Plant Passport – Bringing Plants To The States

Q:We will be in Costa Rica this summer. Fodor’s Costa Rica 1999 Travel book states that at Jardin Lankaster Botanical Gardens one may buy orchids which have their own plant “passport”. These are said to allow a plant to travel across international boundaries. Is this true for the return trip to U.S.? I don’t want to invest in plants which will not be allowed into the states.

A: I called the U.S. Customs office and the Georgia Department of Agriculture Plant Protection Division (404-651-9486) to research your question. Neither office can give you blanket permission to bring an orchid back to this country without seeing the form which Jardin Lankaster gives you. I suggest you contact the garden in Costa Rica and ask them to fax a sample of their form to you. You can then fax it to the authorities here and get their opinion.