Dangerous holiday souvenirs

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Hand on heart: Each of us has probably ever brought plants from the holiday, to plant them in their own garden or in the house or as a small holiday gift to friends and family to give away. Why not? After all, there are many great plants in the holiday regions of the world that are often not even available here - and it is also a nice reminder of past holidays. But at least from the Balearic Islands (Mallorca, Menorca, Ibiza) you should now no longer introduce plants to Germany. Because there is a bacterium spreading further, which can be dangerous for our plants.

This bacterium threatens the plants

In the Balearic Islands, the bacterium Xylella fastidiosa has already been detected in several plants. It lives in the vascular system of the plants, which is responsible for the water supply. Thus, as the bacteria multiply, they hinder water transport in the plant, which then begins to dry up. Xylella fastidiosa can attack many different plant species. In some species, it increases so much that the plants dry up and go down over time. This is currently happening with olive trees in southern Italy (Salento), where already over 11 million olive trees have died. In California (USA), Xylella fastidiosa is currently threatening the cultivation of vines. In Mallorca, a first infestation was discovered in the fall of 2016 and meanwhile, various symptoms have already been detected on various plants. Other infestations in Europe can be found in Corsica and on the French Mediterranean coast.

Cicadas are carriers of the bacteria

The transmission of the bacteria happens through cicadas (insects), which suck at the vascular system (xylem) of the plant. In the body of the cicadas an increase can take place. When such cicadas suck on other plants, they transmit the bacteria very effectively. For humans and animals, these bacteria are harmless, they can not be infected.

So you go against the spread of the bacterium

The only realistic way to control this plant disease is to stop further spreading of infected plants. Due to the enormous economic importance of this plant disease, there is a specific EU implementing decision (DB EU 2015/789). It plans to eliminate all potential host plants in the respective infestation zone (perimeter of 100 meters around infested plants) and to regularly inspect all host plants in the buffer zone (10 kilometers around the infested zone) for symptoms of infestation for five years. In addition, the movement of Xylella host plants out of the infestation and buffer zone is prohibited, provided that they are intended for further cultivation in any way. For example, it is forbidden to bring oleander cuttings from Mallorca, Menorca or Ibiza or other infested areas. In the meantime, checks have even been carried out to ensure that the ban on movement is observed. So it will be in the future also random checks at the airport Erfurt-Weimar. On the website of the European Commission, you can download a list of potential host plants whose import in Thuringia is already prohibited. In case of a carryover of the disease very high claims for damages are possible!

The infestation of some plants in a nursery in Pausa (Saxony), which was diagnosed last year, has since been eradicated. All plants of this nursery were disposed of by special waste incineration, all existing objects were cleaned and disinfected. The infestation and buffer zone with the corresponding movement bans remains there for another 5 years. Only if no more infestation can be proven in this time, the zones can be canceled.

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