Everyone knows that importing plants from overseas is strictly regulated due to the need for protection against pests, diseases and disorders. Holiday makers are well advised to avoid bringing in any plants. US customs are particularly rigid when travelling into the United States with any sort of plant or fruit material, as many of you will know. However, many of us have purchased packets of seed whilst on holiday to bring home and try at home. Often results are poor, but you would expect that because the varieties have been bred to suit the environmental conditions of the source location. Import of GM seeds is understandably circumscribe.
The guidance for seed importation is given in ' A guide to Seed Imports from other Member States and Third Countries' published by DEFRA. These detailed regulations are harmonised across the EC, and are dependent on testing certified by the International Seed Testing Association (ISTA). The principal test laboratory for England and Wales is the Official Seed Testing Station at the National Institute for Agricultural Botany (NIAB) at Cambridge. The rules are primarily aimed at agricultural and marketing uses of seeds in England and Wales.
A relative of mine brought back a packet of wild flower seeds from Yosemite National Park in USA. They were Pacific Aster (Symphyotricum chilense), California Poppy (Escholzia californica) and Wild Buckwheat (Eriogonum umbellatum). The California poppy is well known here, but the other two are not. Buckwheat seems to be a name given to several different species of wild flower in USA.
They were described on the packet as requiring an over-Winter cold stratification, so I planted them at the end of September. Within a week many of them had germinated, so I now await with interest to see if I can keep them going until next Summer!