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Episode 80: Plant Laws and Plant Patents

Today I speak with several people about various aspects of laws around plants- whether it’s importing plants from abroad or seeking to patent plants in the states. First we hear a tale from a friend of the show, Alessia from @apartmentbotanist, about how the USDA seized a plant that was illegally shipped to her. Then I speak to Lydia Colon, Head of the Plant for Planting Policy Unit at the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service or APHIS. We discuss why it’s important to acquire proper paperwork when ordering plants from overseas. Next we talk to Angela Treadwell who is the founder of Plants Nouveau, a company referred to as a “breeders agent” that helps breeders license and develop new plants to be introduced to market. Angela shares why and how plant patents are obtained. Last we hear a word to the wise from our favorite recurring plant lady on BAGR, Leslie Halleck.

The overall objective of this episode is to begin to bring awareness to our community of the “back end” of horticulture. Rules and regulations we might not understand when just purchasing plants. This might become a series as we continue to learn about how plants come to market, and how and why they are regulated around the world, as we've barely scratched the surface.


In this episode we learn:

  • How and why the USDA regulates plant imports
  • State vs country laws
  • What is APHIS?
  • What do we need to know about ordering plants internationally?
  • What is a phytosanitary certificate?
  • Why are there domestic laws that differ from state to state when it comes to plants?
  • Plant Patents- what are the!?
  • What is Plants Nouveau?
  • Why do people get plants patented
  • What is does it take to get a plant patent?
  • Can you propagate a patented plant?
  • Where to learn more about plant patents


Thank you to this weeks episode sponsors!

For more information on Modern Sprout's amazing line of indoor grow lights and adorable and innovative hydroponic grow kits, visit and use code “BLOOM15” at checkout for 15% off. (Don't forget to check out their AMAZING Black Friday sales!!!)

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Mentioned in the interview with Lydia Colon

APHIS Web Page:

USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service is an Agency that regulates the import of agricultural products—such as plants—to facilitate safe trade.

Rules for traveler with plants:

This site is a resource for travelers coming from abroad that would like to bring a plant back home.

Plants and plant products import permits:

This website lists all of the import permits that cover regulated plant and plant products.

Plant Permit Help Desk:

Telephone (301) 851-2046 or (877) 770-5990 (Toll-Free Automated System);

Fax (301) 734-5786;


The plant permit help desk can help you navigate the permitting process by helping identify the requirements and what you need to do to meet them.

Lacey Act information (rare or endangered species):

The Lacey Act regulates trade in threatened or endangered species. If you are importing a threatened or endangered species there may be additional requirements you need to meet.

National Plant Board – State Regulatory Official

This lists the State Plant Regulatory Official for each state with contact information. These contacts will help you determine what requirements are necessary from moving plants across state lines. Contact the official in the destination state to learn the requirements.

Follow Alessia from @Apartmentbotanist

Instagram @apartmentbotanist



Follow Angela and Plants Nouveau

Twitter: @plantweenie

Facebook: /plantsnouveau

Instagram: @plants_nouveau




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