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Taking Leis from Hawaii to the U.S. Mainland

Know the Lei of the Land

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) prohibits certain items, including some flowers used in Hawaiian leis, from entering the U.S. mainland to protect against harmful plant pests.  If you wish to bring Hawaiian leis back to the U.S. mainland, you’ll want to make sure all the components in your lei are allowed to return with you.


Fortunately, that’s not too hard to do. When you buy a lei, simply ask the seller to confirm that does not include fresh botanical fruits, such as berries and pandanus fruit, or any of the following prohibited items: any citrus or citrus-related flowers, leaves, or other plant parts, as well as jade vine or Mauna Loa. Please be aware that citrus-related plant parts include mock orange flowers and leaves, which are sometimes used in making leis. See figures 1 and 2 for examples of mock orange used in leis.

This question is a very important one for you to ask the seller. USDA enforces a Federal quarantine to prevent the spread of the Asian citrus psyllid, a gnat-sized insect capable of transmitting one of the world’s most serious citrus diseases—citrus greening disease. This harmful pest feeds on all citrus and other fruit and ornamental plants. Some kukui-nut and other types of leis often contain citrus or citrus-related leaves. USDA inspectors will examine your leis at the airport for prohibited items and any signs of plant infestation or infection.

Help protect America’s citrus and other agricultural industries. Before you buy a lei to take back to the U.S. mainland, ask the seller to confirm that does not contain prohibited materials.

Figure 1. Leis containing mock orange leaves (Murraya paniculata)
Figure 2. Leis made of mock orange leaves and sea grape fruits*

For More Information

Learn more about what you can bring to the U.S. mainland from Hawaii on USDA’s “Traveler Information” Web page at https://www.aphis.usda.gov/travel.

For questions or for more information, call the USDA office in Hawaii at (808) 834-3240 or (808) 834-3241.


* Most fresh fruits and vegetables from Hawaii are not allowed to enter the continental United States due to the risk of introducing certain invasive plant pests and diseases. However, fresh pineapple and coconut are permitted after inspection. Fresh papaya, abiu, atemoya, banana, curry leaf, dragon fruit, longan, lychee, mangosteen, rambutan, starfruit, and sweet potato are permitted, but must be treated at a USDA-approved facility and packed in sealed boxes that are properly marked and stamped.

 


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