border crossings: USA/Canada

Wed Jun 3 11:15:27 CDT 1998

Wed 3 Jun 1104h


    Thanks to all of you who have contacted me concerning your
experiences with getting plant presses into the USA from Canada.
Here's a short summary of what I've learned:

    1. Whether or not your bulging plant presses will attract
attention or concern from the border personnel seems to be a
chancy thing: perhaps dependent on the weather, how nice you are, how
many people are in line trying to cross behind your car
(interestingly, some say that you are safer in a long line of people
trying to cross, others argue that a short line is better. One
figures that if there is a short line of people trying to cross the
border, the border people might be more interested in looking your at
your stuff more thoroughly.)

    2. It is apparently legal to bring DRIED plant specimens into the
US from Canada. Living, intact , i.e., unpressed plants will
certainly raise eyebrows, especially if they (the plants) are what
might be called of "commercial significance".

    3. Dirt on the roots will get you in trouble, probably, so clean
them off.

    4. If you can only half-way play a banjo (like me), or an
accordion, you might start playing it whilst the guards are dealing
with your car. They will surely truncate their efforts.

    My chief concern in all of this is that, unless your collecting
trip is long enough, it's very unlikely that you could re-enter the
US with really dried specimens: there would surely be some wet stuff,
especially if your trip was short in duration, and you've collected
material that day. Therefore, the best tactic (and one I am taking)
is to make an atrrangement with a local herbarium on the Canada
side to dry all your material and then send them to you. Since this
can be a burden monetarily, I would suggest that efforts be made to
defray any shipping charges, etc. that might result during the
generosity offered by the herbarium being dealt with. (One
possibility would be to return an equally-sized shipment of pressed
material from your area as a token of thanks.)

    Later John Nelson

John B. Nelson
Curator of the Herbarium (USCH)
Department of Biological Sciences
University of South Carolina
Columbia SC 29208

nelson at
803-777-8196 phone
803-777-4002 fax

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