My plants are precious

Hi I’m thinking about taking all my plants on a van with me when I moved to France (some are treasured) from u.k. what are the chances of being stopped and having to pay import duties?

Well if you dont get stopped you should voluntarily go back as soon as you can and declare them :joy:


Welcome to the forum
You may find this a good or not so read
Moving or sending plants for planting to the EU or Northern Ireland from Great Britain for non-commercial purposes: nursery, registration, and supervision requirements - UK Plant Health Information Portal.

As Wozza’s link shows, import duties are the least of your worries, you’ll need to jump through significant hoops to get the certification to bring them in at all.

I believe that you will need a phyto-sanitary certificate for each plant you wish to import, and there seems to be a complete ban on any kind of soil or growing substrate.

Here’s a link to the French customs document on the subject.

It would be a lot easier to take some of their seeds in a trouser pocket, but of course this too would probably be illegal and in any case I would never suggest to someone else that they break the law. Heaven forbid!

1 Like

If you get caught with plants or seeds not voluntarily declared you would really be for the “high jump” I suspect.

It would not be a good thing for any future plans you might have for France in your life.

Also not sure if technically any vehicle involved could be confiscated - they can be, for some infractions.

Plant movement rules have tightened over the years. Quite sensibly to my mind given the number of serious outbreaks of diseases. The box moth problem that has devastated large areas of France was finally tracked back to some plants coming in from Germany.

Think about bringing seeds, cuttings that are in a growing medium not soil, and washed bare root plants packed in shredded plastic. Far less risky. 15 years on our cuttings are doing very well!

You may think your plants are fine, but how would you feel if they did have a virus that spread here?

We have two, very useful mature bamboo groves nearby, but both are adjacent to the village’s cemeteries. The oldest bamboo is next to the original mediaeval cemetery, high up on the side of the gorge. Coffins used to be hauled up by ropes and the priest read (or shouted?) the mass from down below. This cemetery was abandoned in the mid-C19th because ‘the dead had begun falling out of the sky’ (probably onto our roof -yuk!).

So, I wonder when and why bamboo was introduced - it seems to have been long ago - and was it associated with mourning? - @Susannah, @Véro help!

Introduced to France very actively in the 19thC to combat soil erosion and make fencing.


Every day a school day…

1 Like

Hello @alistair_young1 and welcome to the forum.

I’m sure, if you think about it… you’ll realize that simply bringing plants from one country to another is unlikely to be straight forward.

That’s a bit like asking how long is a piece of string… :wink: :wink:

Best to assume you will be stopped and will have to pay any duties applicable…
Follow the Rules to the letter, have all the documentation completed etc etc
and then you can relax … and enter France to begin your new life. :+1:

It would be a fine and any plants deemed not in accordance withplant passport will be destroyed.

If ypir plants are very preciousI have a trace memory thst individuals can somehow follow a process to get a passport. Look on the Defra website.

Edit: here’s a link:


Please follow the rules. Don’t be tempted to smuggle plants into France. The rules are there for a reason.



Audrey 2 (little shop of horrors)

1 Like

This thread reminds me of the time my friend brought her daughters goldfish from the UK. In an emptied (and refilled with water) wine box. Very ingenious !


This sounds like a plot from an alternative Famous Five universe :rofl:


Ha! Ha! Indeed.

Well, for anyone (one) interested, bamboo is a very long and interesting subject from a Chinese perspective. In Chinese calligraphy still holds the pictograph from which it came.

Use of bamboo in China goes back over 7000 years, when the Shang dynasty folk were using it ti make cooking utensils and not surprisingly, arrows. The plant may have been around far before but that is the first evidence, so far, of its use by man.

At some point new growth bamboo shoots were also found to be a tasty food. Still are but not the leaves, which are toxic, or the stem, which wood be like chewing wood. Shoots need their fibrous exteriors cut away, and then the shoots need to be boiled. When eaten raw, bamboo contains a toxin that produces cyanide in the gut. I do wonder who first discovered that.

From China the customs and reverence for bamboo spread to Japan and countries of Southeast Asia via trade and migration.

Along with the handy usefulness of the many things that could be made from quick growing bamboo went a long and revered Chinese philosophy. For this it has been a principal in fine art and poetry for thousands of years.

The ‘roots’ of this lie entwined with the history of China’s ancient Literati. Principally, in keeping with the all-important Daoist connection to nature, the thinking gentleman was advised to appreciate the many qualities of bamboo, not least in humility, survivability and flexibility.

And, not least, painting bamboo drew reference and skills perfected in the all-important art of calligraphy, as demonstrated by the great Ming dynasty master, 夏昶 Xia Chang in 1460

We can still see bamboo in paintings and on porcelain created by and for the literati to inspire and remind them of who to be. A popular motif has bamboo (竹) beside three other plants—the chrysanthemum (菊), orchid (蘭), and plum blossom (梅). These are called the “four gentlemen,” or the 四君子.

In such a motif, there’s both a seasonal dimension and a sort of “moral” dimension. Seasonally, the bamboo, chrysanthemum, plum blossom, and orchid represent summer, autumn, winter, and spring respectively. The precise meanings are often subject to a degree of interpretation, but often the chrysanthemum symbolises dauntlessness (it blossoms just before the frost, fearing not the hardships ahead), the plum blossom symbolising perseverance (as it blossoms in the winter), the orchid representing elegance and refinement (as the orchids talked about here are often fragrant valley flowers that require shade), and, finally, the bamboo symbolising rectitude (for it is ever-upright).

To understand how the symbol of bamboo may change in relation to with what else it is depicted, there is another popular literati motif:

Bamboo is also one of the “three friends of winter” (歲寒三友) along with the plum blossom (梅) and pine (松), all three of which remain green and flourish in the winter. There’s no implication of summer here on the part of the bamboo, but the focus is on bamboo’s particular unassuming strength and resilience—it is not a “pretty” plant (in the sense that it has no flowers on it), but it remains green, vigorous, and strong in the face of the hardships of the frost. The pine has a similar connotation.

Bamboo’s many physical unique properties leant to its being a very popular medium for accessories in the literati studio. The solid root makes for myriad carvings, which in matter and in form held symbolism. The hollow and compartmentalised stem was perfect for the literati brush pots and even the smooth outer bark could be carefully carved in a technique called , liuqing, as in this 18th century brush pot

For the literati, the symbolism made objects of bamboo just as valuable as those made from ‘precious’ materials. Peerless craftsmanship withstanding.

I could go on but……

A caveat - The common, and largely illiterate people of China adopted an appreciation for bamboo but from the slightly different perspective of their more modest existence, so the symbolism is somewhat different.

Bamboo was and is a humble plant that quietly perseveres growing underground for years before showing itself. Roots are important! Once grown, it is flexible and bends where other woods would break. Many a granny would say that the taller a bamboo grows the more it must bend. Simply, to ordinary folk bamboo symbolised life, longevity, happiness and perseverance. Because bamboo grows in groups it is also a symbol of friendship. A group that stands together will thrive. You can see how bamboo, inexpensive and ubiquitous, became a symbol of the Chinese people, wherever they went.

Another caveat, Chinese is quite full of double and triple meanings. A Cantonese word, 竹升 pronounced “juk-sing” is really not complementary at all. It is a bamboo pole but is a pejorative term for a Chinese person who has become western centric and forgets their roots. Something to do with the compartmentalised bamboo stem preventing water flowing through.


That’s weird, I thought I’d answered here - so apologies if I’ve done so twice. Bamboo was introduced to France in the 19thC, very actively, because it was seen as a way of preventing soil erosion and useful for fencing (and probably chinoiserie conservatory furniture etc).