What type of scion wood is illegal?

Hello friends,

I’ve been informed that certain types of scion wood exchange is not legal in the United States. Does anybody know where I can find more information about statutes regarding international scion wood exchange?

Thank you

Isn’t yours zone 8,Naomi?Brady

You may want to google “Importing plants and plant products, US Customs and Border Protection”.

It is risky and if not followed the rules/regulations, is illegal.

There are three different categories of regulations:

  1. Patented Plant Material. It is illegal to asexually propagate patented plants before the patent expires. Several cultivars of fruiting plants are currently patented.
  2. Phytosanitary regulations. The U.S. Federal government requires that imported plant material be free of certain pests and diseases. Many U.S. State governments have additional restrictions.
  3. Genotype regulations. The U.S. Federal government forbids the import of a few plant species, and several U.S. States have more rigorous restrictions on importation.

The rules for all plant species are long and complicated. It’s easier just to ask about the specific species you are interested in, from where you want to send it, and to where you want to send it.

nope, just Naomi

Whom should I ask?

You can ask right here.

I’m a little confused as to what you are asking. Are you asking about importing scionwood into the United States from outside the county? If so, it it pretty much illegal without proper inspections and paperwork. There are many reasons, but the most important is that anything imported can potentially harbor pathogens. Just don’t do it.



From another thread, you mentioned that someone from Europe would like to give you scionwood. I’d heed Ampersand’s comment. Some people exchange scionwood with people from outside the country. You risk bringing in pathogens or insects that could do serious damage to native plants here.

I believe in general, a person-to-person exchange does not bother to go through hoops (proper inspection and paperwork could be a real pain and costly). There are legal and ethical aspects to consider, too.

In addition, there are people outside the US (we know of those from Europe) who hunt for scionwood from the US. They are scammers who promise people here a fair exchange but sending bad wood while getting good one from honest people here.


This is probably how many diseases (and some insects) entered the U.S. (Plum Pox (currently eradicated in the U.S.), HLB, Dutch Elm disease, Sudden Oak Death, etc.).


What is the the specific species you are interested in, where is it coming from and where is it going?

My area is epicenter for Spotted Lanternfly, Allium Leafminer, and BMSB. Plum Pox wasn’t far away, my grandmother lived in the epicenter of that. Frustrating!

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I do not think patented scion is illegal. I can order patented club apples from the USDA for free. It is not illegal untell you get caught grafting it. It is also totally legal to order a spore print of psilocybin mushrooms. For research purposes of course :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

Have the patents expired?


No. For example the, USDA has offered ambrosia for years. It under patent untell this Summer. They also offer the patented Firecracker Crabapple.

All that means that someone is paying the royalty, or they have an agreement to distribute the genetics royalty free, or they just aren’t doing the right thing and are trying to weasel into educational exemptions as fair use copyright law. If it’s the latter, you would be okay with non commercial fair use as well, until one of you loses in court. If it’s one of the first two, how you ought to treat the wood would depend on the wording of the agreement. If they pay a license fee per stick, you should not subdivide the stick, but if they have some sort of exemption you could split out each bud. You OUGHT to have the right to backups not used for harvest or commercial purposes, but it’s never been court tested that I could find, but would be consistent with all other copyrighted materials. The second you harvest or do anything productive with the backup you would be at fault, technically, if you also have the original.

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The U.S. plant patent law has the research exemption:

7 U.S. Code § 2544 - Research exemption
The use and reproduction of a protected variety for plant breeding or other bona fide research shall not constitute an infringement of the protection provided under this chapter.


I think that as long as you don’t use the produced fruit commercially (for example, if you eat the fruit yourself), it’s not an infringement. The law has the exception for private noncommercial uses:

7 U.S. Code § 2541 - Infringement of plant variety protection
(e) Private noncommercial uses
It shall not be an infringement of the rights of the owner of a variety to perform any act done privately and for noncommercial purposes.

The patent law for plants is different from patent law for inventions and from copyright law, so the usual logic (e.g., making a copy of a movie is illegal) does not fully apply to patented plants.


My piont was that distrubuting sticks of wood is not propagating and can’t violate patent law. Not untell they are grafted.