RMD-13-04: Consolidated Pest Risk Management Document for pest plants regulated by Canada
Appendix 7B: Risk Management Considerations for Echium plantagineum (Paterson's curse)

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Potential Hardiness of Echium plantagineum in Canada

Echium plantagineum should be able to establish and thrive in USDA Plant Hardiness Zones 5-8 in Canada, putting at risk pasture, livestock, crops, hay and honey production in the following areas: Vancouver Island, the Queen Charlotte Islands, the west coast of BC, a large area in south-central British Columbia, the southernmost parts of Ontario, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, a small area of southern New Brunswick, and eastern Newfoundland. Echium plantagineum may also be able to establish in colder regions up to USDA Plant Hardiness Zones 2 or 3, but is less likely to flourish in them. Figure 1 shows the USDA hardiness zones 3a and higher.

In Canada, Echium plantagineum has been historically collected from sites in southern Manitoba, southern Ontario, and Newfoundland (Scoggan, 1978). It has not persisted indefinitely at any of these sites. Lack of persistence would seem to provide support for low invasive risk of Echium plantagineum in Canada. However, examination of the label data on the specimens provides evidence to the contrary.

A specimen collected in 1931 from Murray's Pond, Newfoundland (NFLD) (near St. John's) is located at the Harvard University Herbarium (GH). It was submitted with a note stating "planted 12 years ago", "have at last got it nearly all dug out" and "garden weed (pest)". These statements indicate that Echium plantagineum can persist as a weed from year to year in that area of Newfoundland, which is located in approximately USDA Plant Hardiness zone 6b. CLIMEX software was used to determine other locations in Canada with similar climates to St. John's, NFLD (Figure 2). Areas with similar climates include parts of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, and to a lesser extent, southern Ontario, and coastal British Columbia.

Figure 1: USDA Plant Hardiness Zones 3a and higher

Figure 1. Description follows.
Description for Figure 1:

This image shows locations in North America with a similar climate as St. John's, Newfoundland. This is done through the implementation of a Composite Match Index with four blue circles, each circle getting bigger than the last, symbolizing the ranges of 0.7, 0.8, 0.9, and 1 respectively.

The specimen collected in 1953 from Brandon, Manitoba (MB) is located at the Agriculture and Agri-food Canada Herbarium (DAO). The label on this specimen states "Roadside. Dry soil. Occasional volunteer plants [plants]." Brandon has a much harsher climate than St. John's, NFLD, but evidently Echium plantagineum is capable of producing volunteers there as well. Brandon is in USDA Hardiness zone 3a and has a climate similar to much of the Prairie provinces.

There are two specimens of Echium plantagineum in the University of Guelph herbarium (OAC). One was collected in 1940 from Vineland, ON, where it was collected in habitat described as "Waste ground, near garden." The second is a white form of the species, cultivated at the Ontario Agricultural College in Guelph, (Ontario) ON and collected in 1935. The former suggests that the Echium plantagineum is capable of becoming a garden escape. Vineland, ON is in approximately USDA Hardiness zone 5b.

Figure 2: Locations in North America with similar climates to St. John's, NFLD

Figure 2. Description follows.
Description for Figure 2:

This map contains scattered blue dots across the Maritime Provinces as well as throughout southern Ontario and into the United States deceasing in size as it proceeds downwards. Moreover, occasional spots can be found across the western coast.

Composite Match Index is the product of six component indices (total rainfall, rainfall pattern, humidity, soil moisture, and maximum and minimum temperature) (Sutherst et al., 2006). The value ranges from 0 to 1, with 1 representing a perfect climate match. Map generated using Climex software.

With the exception of the first specimen from Murray's Pond, NFLD, it is not known why Echium plantagineum did not persist in Brandon, MB or Vineland, ON. Lack of persistence may have been due to eradication efforts (physical, mechanical or chemical), as was the case in NFLD, rather than climatic factors. The label data suggests that the species can re-seed and potentially spread at both locations. A seed bank decay rate study by Sheppard and Smyth (2002) showed that Echium plantagineum seed longevity was closely linked with field conditions, but may last tens of years.

Several stakeholders indicated that Echium plantagineum is unlikely to become invasive in New Brunswick because New Brunswick differs significantly from this species' circum-Mediterranean distribution. As shown in Figure 2, there are many locations throughout the Atlantic Maritimes that have similar climates to St. John's, NFLD where this species was a known pest. It is also important to note that the scope of this risk management document for Echium plantagineum includes all of Canada, not just New Brunswick where trials have been proposed. Therefore, the invasive risk of Echium plantagineum must be considered for the entire country.

The CFIA weed risk assessment on Echium plantagineum determined that there is potential for this species to establish in USDA Plant Hardiness Zones 5-8 in Canada based on its native geographic distribution, which includes northern Africa, parts of eastern Asia and much of Europe, including central and southern Russia (Gibbs, 1972). Its center of origin is Mediterranean, but its native range clearly extends beyond this region. There are also records of Echium plantagineum in Norway and Sweden (GBIF, 2008). Evidence of volunteering in Manitoba suggests that this species may be capable of establishing in even colder hardiness zones. It should also be noted that Echium plantagineum has shown high levels of genetic diversity and phenotypic plasticity (Wood and Degabriele, 1985). Seed collected from harsher climatic regions of its native or introduced range may have a better chance of success in Canadian climates than those collected in warmer regions.

It should be noted that even if Echium plantagineum does not survive as an autumn germinated plant, and complete its lifecycle as a winter annual, there is a risk that the species may overwinter as seed, germinate in spring, and complete its lifecycle as an annual plant. Experience with this plant indicates that it reproduces quickly, and can begin flowering within two weeks of emergence in spring (B. Myers-Shenai, 21 Apr. 2008, pers. comm.).

In summary, the potential for adaptation of Echium plantagineum to the Canadian environment appears to be high due to several factors. The species has wide climatic amplitude and an extensive native range. It is capable of establishing new populations where introduced and, notably, it is capable of invading disturbed sites. Seed production is high. It behaves as an annual, winter annual or biennial, conferring greater adaptation potential than perennial species. Genetic variation is also high, and it is capable of a great deal of phenotypic plasticity in response to localized environmental factors. Collectively, these factors suggest a highly adaptable weed potentially capable of establishing throughout most of Canada's agriculturally productive lands.

Areas of Commercial Cultivation

Several stakeholders have indicated that Echium plantagineum is cultivated in the United Kingdom (UK) and New Zealand with few or no issues of invasiveness. IENICA (2000, 2002) report that Echium plantagineum has only been grown in pilot studies in the UK and that details about European production are unknown. Production in the UK was limited to 20 ha in 1997 and 190 ha in 1998. It appears that production in the UK in the past ten years has been small-scale. Experience with the plant in the UK indicates that it grows rapidly and is able to out compete weeds in early stages, and it tolerates infertile soils.

The United Kingdom is considered part of the native range of Echium plantagineum (Clapham et al., 1962; CABI , 2006). Species in their native ranges are generally kept in check by factors such as native community composition and natural predators. In the absence of these factors, some species become invasive where introduced. For this reason, lack of invasiveness in the United Kingdom is not compelling evidence to support the suggestion that Echium plantagineum would not have the potential to become invasive in Canada. Many of Canada's invasive plant species have been introduced from Europe and are not invasive in their native range.

However, it should also be noted that Echium plantagineum has been described as weedy even in its native range. It is considered a 'principal' weed in Tunisia (Holm et al., 1979). Echium plantagineum is also considered an arable weed of Europe (Hanf, 1983). It is introduced occasionally into central Europe from its main native range as a seed contaminant (Hanf, 1983). Clapham et al. (1962) indicate that Echium plantagineum can also occur as a garden-escape in some parts of the British Isles.

Echium plantagineum has also been cultivated in New Zealand but has not caused problems to the same degree as in Australia. However, it is still considered a weed in New Zealand and is described as a "Common weed of road-side and waste places in the north of NI" (Roy et al., 1998). Its habitat is old habitations, road-sides and waste places. Roy et al. (1998) also indicates that grazed pastures in New Zealand are "probably too competitive for it to invade." It is also sold in garden centers in New Zealand.

Field Trial Information

There is little information on the behaviour of Echium plantagineum in cultivation in North America to date. Trials have been conducted in North Dakota, Maine and Saskatchewan. Echium plantagineum has been grown in trials in at least four locations (Carrington, Langdon, Minot, and Prosper) in North Dakota since 2002 (Berti et al., 2007). Seed sources for the trials were from the United Kingdom and wild populations in Chile, collected between 35°S and 40°S. Trials were sown in late May and flowered 31 to 49 days later, with the exception of the Chilean lines, which flowered between 52 and 80 days after sowing or not at all (2 lines). The results state the following: "The harvest index for Echium plantagineum is extremely low indicating little domestication and plant breeding improvement. High lodging of the crop after full bloom contributes to seed shattering, white mold [Sclerotinia sclerotiorum (Lib.) De Bary] infection, and poor seed appearance." In addition, the following statements are made: "Echium invasiveness risk is low in North Dakota. No volunteer plants were observed from shattered seed the following season."

There is no indication in this article about the methodology used to determine low invasive risk and the absence of volunteers. The climate in North Dakota is similar to that of southern Manitoba where Echium plantagineum has indeed produced occasional volunteers. Attempts have been made to contact the author of this paper to inquire further about the trials and the method for evaluating invasive risk but no response has been given to date.

A trial on Echium plantagineum was also conducted on 8 acres in Aroostook County, Maine in 2007. The recommendation was given to destroy the trial prior to seed set (Sexton, 2007). The recommendation was based on several factors, including concern regarding infestations in Oregon and California, the species' prolonged seed longevity and prolific seed production, and the potential to harm grain and hay markets (Sexton, 2007). The final decision was to destroy most of the trial, but allow 3 acres to set seed and be harvested. It will not be replanted in the future, and measures will be taken to ensure that this species does not establish and spread from this site (A. Gibbs, ME Dept of Agriculture, 28 Apr. 2008, pers. comm.). Due to the short-term nature of this trial, there is insufficient evidence to indicate that Echium plantagineum has low invasive risk in Maine.

Echium plantagineum trials have also been grown near Saskatoon, Saskatachewan for several years. Information on these trials cannot be included because of a request for confidentiality from the owners of the data.

Economic Impacts in Countries other than Australia

In addition to Australia, where Echium plantagineum has caused significant economic impacts, this specieshas become invasive in South Africa, Chile, Uruguay, Argentina, Brazil, and the US (Oregon and California). There are few reports of economic impacts from this species in these other countries. However, reports that quantify economic impacts of invasive plant species are few in general. Echium plantagineum has been reported to cause harm to livestock in Brazil (Mendez et al., 1985; Santos et al., 2008). In the US, Echium plantagineum has also shown the capability to dominate in cattle pastures. In South Africa, Echium plantagineum is described as a roadside weed (Retief and Van Wyk, 1998).

The Australian experience did not occur under managed conditions, however it has been demonstrated that Echium plantagineum can become invasive as a result of a very limited introduction sometimes consisting of a few plants. Although best management practices can mitigate the risk, they cannot reduce it to an acceptable level. The potential for this species to escape into the wild or into other agricultural crops and pastureland will increase substantially if this species is allowed to be grown commercially throughout Canada.

Agricultural Values at Risk

Echium plantagineum has the potential to cause negative economic impacts including pasture degradation, livestock and crop yield losses, hay and seed contamination, and increased costs of control. Although in the past Echium plantagineum was considered a valuable honey plant, concerns have been raised about the levels of pyrrolizidine alkaloids that carry over into the honey. Due to the presence of toxic alkaloids in Echium plantagineum, Echium plantagineum honey must be blended with non-Echium plantagineum honeys. The Canadian Honey Council has issued a warning regarding the use of honey from Echium plantagineum based on information from Food Standards Australia New Zealand (Canadian Honey Council 2005). Canadian honey producers in proximity to Echium plantagineum crops may therefore be negatively affected. The Canadian Honey Council has expressed concern over the potential requirement for blending honey should Echium plantagineum be present in the Canadian environment, as blending would add significant costs to honey production (H. Clay, Canadian Honey Council, 22 Apr. 2008, pers. comm.).

Although a comprehensive cost-benefit analysis is not within the scope of this document, a rough assessment of the agricultural values that are at risk within the potential range of Echium plantagineum in Canada is shown in tables 1-3. Table 1 shows the number of beekeepers and value of honey production. Provinces within USDA Plant Hardiness Zones 5-8, its primary potential range, are indicated with an asterisk. In 2004 the value of Canadian honey production was $121 million. Recent correspondence with the Canadian Honey Council indicates that the beekeeping industry of Canada includes 8,000 apiculturists, 600,000 colonies of honey bees and has a current value of two million dollars in honey production and one billion dollars in the pollination of agricultural crops. Canadian pure honey is renowned world-wide for its quality and flavour. Approximately seventy-eight percent of Canadian honey production is concentrated in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba.

Table 1: Honey Production in 2004
Province No. of beekeepers Value $,000
Nova ScotiaTable Note 13751,100
New BrunswickTable Note 1225 355
Prince Edward IslandTable Note 130 150
OntarioTable Note 12,650 14,005
British ColumbiaTable Note 12,11011,535
Total: Canada7,925121,105

Source: Honey Council Canada.

Table Notes

Table Note 1

Within primary potential range.

Return to table note 1 referrer

Table 2: Pasture Production in 2006
Province Hectares of Tame (Seeded) Pasture Hectares of Natural Pasture
NewfoundlandTable Note 22,348 10,288
Nova ScotiaTable Note 223,381 31,708
New BrunswickTable Note 217,013 24,995
Prince Edward IslandTable Note 210,847 12,315
Quebec147,387 158,602
OntarioTable Note 2303,400 959,935
British ColumbiaTable Note 2245,7931,499,563
Total: Canada5,694,388 15,951,255

Source: Statistics Canada.

Table Notes

Table Note 2

Within primary potential range.

Return to table note 2 referrer

Tables 1 and 2 indicate the areas in forage production which is the foundation of Canada's beef and dairy industries. The beef and dairy industries have traditionally been the second and third ranking primary agriculture sectors in Canada after the grain sector.

According to the 2001 Census of Agriculture, throughout Canada, over 27 million hectares were devoted for livestock grazing and forage production (Agriculture and Agri-food Canada 2007). Of this, about 15.4 million hectares were native pasture, 4.8 million hectares were tame or seeded pasture, and nearly 7 million hectares were cultivated tame hay, including 5 million hectares located in Western Canada. In total, it is estimated that approximately 40% of Canada's total farm area is allocated for grazing and growing forage crops. Harvested area for tame hay was 6.7 million hectares in 2005.

Table 3: Tame Hay Production in 2005
Province Tonnes ('000)
NewfoundlandTable Note 318
Nova ScotiaTable Note 3339
New BrunswickTable Note 3354
Prince Edward IslandTable Note 3258
OntarioTable Note 34,563
British ColumbiaTable Note 31,556
Total: Canada26,630

Source: Agriculture and Agri-food Canada 2007.

Table Notes

Table Note 3

Within primary potential range.

Return to table note 3 referrer

Herbicide Resistance

In Australia, Echium plantagineum has developed resistance to a group of herbicides known as acetolactate synthase (ALS) inhibitors. This group of herbicides includes the sulfonylurea family of herbicides, to which this population of Echium plantagineum is highly resistant, and the imidazolinone family of herbicides, to which it exhibits low-level resistance (Preston 2006). Herbicide resistance in Echium plantagineum can lead to increased costs of control and reduced choices for herbicide use over the long term. In Australia, it is considered likely that ALS resistance will persist over the affected areas for many years even if ALS inhibitors are not used, due to the long lived seed bank (Preston 2006).

It should be noted, however that many cases of ALS herbicide resistance over several species are well documented as established in Canada. These are most prevalent in central and western Canada which historically uses multiple products in this herbicide group. Increased cost of control would not result if more cost-effective herbicide groups, such as phenoxy herbicides were used for Echium plantagineum. With any responsible management program, rotation of herbicide groups are highly suggested regardless of the crop. Canadian growers recognize this and practice this in their farming operations. Australia has experienced herbicide resistance to most groups of herbicides including the first case of glyphosate resistance in the world due in part to poor management practices.

Socio-economic Impacts

Negative Impacts:

Although impacts would take many years to accumulate, costs to Canadians relating to Echium plantagineum after several decades could eventually compare to those currently experienced in Australia. The plant has spread over millions of acres in New South Wales, Western Australia and Victoria provinces. In Australia, lost pasture productivity, control costs and wool contamination due to Echium plantagineum are estimated to cost sheep and cattle producers $250 million AUD annually which is the current equivalent of $220 million CAN annually.

It has been suggested that farmers will greatly benefit from increased revenue associated from growing Echium plantagineum as opposed to cereal crops, especially in New Brunswick. Since New Brunswick is a net importer of feed grains, the reduction of New Brunswick-based grain supplies because of potato farmers switching from cereal rotation to rotation with Echium plantagineum may actually have significant impacts on the New Brunswick livestock industry. The rising costs of feed grains are seriously compromising the Canadian livestock sector.

Canadian honey is world renowned as being exceptional in quality; however the introduction and spread of Echium plantagineum in Canada could potentially affect this reputation and impose a requirement for blending at additional cost to the apiculturist. The total value of Canadian honey in 2004 (the most recent year available from Statistics Canada) was $121.1 million. Recent correspondence with the Canadian Honey Council indicates that the beekeeping industry of Canada includes 8,000 apiculturists, 600,000 colonies of honey bees and has a current value of two million dollars in honey production and one billion dollars in the pollination of agricultural crops.

Potential environmental and social impacts include toxicity to animals and humans, increased or changed herbicide usage in association with herbicide resistance, decreased soil fertility and increased soil erosion, and changes in community composition in natural ecosystems. Pyrrolizidine alkaloids and cytochrome C allergens are two known potentially toxic constituents that are found in Echium plantagineum. Pyrrolizidine alkaloids are harmful to human health, when consumed in products such as milk or milk products, honey or cereals. Liver poisoning by pyrrolizidine alkaloids in humans is gradual and cumulative, and there is no known therapy (Klemow et al., 2002). Furthermore, pyrrolizidine alkaloids "inhibit mitosis, cause chromosomal abnormalities, and are mutagenic, teratogenic and carcinogenic (Culvenor 1985). Ingestion of pyrrolizidine alkaloids may result in cancerous lesions on the lung and liver (Huxtable 1980)" (Klemow et al., 2002). Pyrrolizidine alkaloids in herbal teas have caused poisoning of human infants (Huxtable, 1980, cited in Klemow et al., 2002). Cases of poisoning have been noted in rats (in studies), horses, pigs, cattle, and sheep. Monogastric animals such as horses and pigs are much more susceptible than ruminants, and can be lethally poisoned within a single season of grazing (Peterson 1985). Deaths in sheep may occur over the longer term, and are usually associated with chronic copper poisoning (Peterson 1985). Another invasive plant species in Canada also contains alkaloids (Senecio jacobaea, Tansy Ragwort), however this is not a sufficient justification to overlook the significance of introducing yet one more into the Canadian environment.

Pollen from plants in the genus Echium plantagineum has also been associated with respiratory allergies (cytochrome C allergens) (UK Advisory Committee on Novel Foods and Processes 2007). The hairiness of Echium plantagineum has caused dermatitis, inflammation and itching to both humans and animals (Castro 2007).

Positive Impacts:

Crop diversification is widely promoted by federal and provincial agricultural agencies throughout Canada, and the addition of Echium plantagineum as a potentially profitable market-niche crop in Canada would further that goal. The development of Echium plantagineum as a potato rotational crop in New Brunswick has, in particular, received a great deal of attention. While the cereal grains (barley, oats, wheat) have traditionally played a large role as rotation crops for potatoes in New Brunswick, the contribution of those crops to farm economics is marginal. Grain is priced largely in global markets, and New Brunswick/Atlantic Canada, with relatively cool summers and a small land base, does not support a vibrant grains industry. New Brunswick and Atlantic Canada are net importers of feed grain for livestock.

There is a need for new players to provide market access to enable the New Brunswick agri-food and agri-products sector to participate in the new bioeconomy with its emerging opportunities in natural health products, functional foods and industrial bioproducts. These markets are not easily negotiated by agricultural producers, or even cooperatives, which do not have market clout and easy access to global markets outside of commodity regimes. For this reason, the Strategic Innovation Group (SIG) of the New Brunswick Potato Cluster was formed in 2004. The SIG is chaired by the Minister of the New Brunswick Department of Agriculture and Aquaculture and consists of stakeholders from industry, government, university, R & D, consumer groups and additional external advisors.

While large by New Brunswick's standards, the 22,000 or so hectares that the New Brunswick potato industry has to offer for rotation, falls in to a category better described as "niche" on the scale of global crops. The relatively exacting requirements for potato production place the growers in a favourable situation for understanding the more exacting requirements of niche cropping and strict accountability in crop management. Cooler climates, such as found in Atlantic Canada, typically result in the production of seed oils that are more enriched in the polyunsaturated fatty acids of interest. New Brunswick's summers have warm (not hot) days and cool nights, a characteristic deemed vital for the accumulation of the desirable oil constituents in Echium plantagineum.

In addition to the role that that Echium plantagineum promises to offer in diversifying New Brunswick's potato industry, there are several other benefits including:

It has been suggested that farmers will greatly benefit from increased revenue associated from growing Echium plantagineum as opposed to cereal crops, especially in New Brunswick. It is important to note, however that since cereal grain prices are rising in North America, the difference in revenue may not be significant.

Currently there are no concrete proposals to extract the seed oils in Canada. The construction of a processing plant would cost approximately $25 million and the plant would potentially employ up to 25 people. If a refinery was not constructed in Canada, however, the product would probably be exported and Canadian economic benefits would be restricted to crop production.

The cultivation of Echium plantagineum would provide a reliable source of essential fatty acids if a refinery was developed in Canada. The seed oil of Echium plantagineum contains a unique oil profile that is rich in essential fatty acids. Essential fatty acids are not produced by the body, but must be obtained through the diet or by supplementation. Of particular interest are the gamma linolenic (GLA) and stearidonic fatty acids present in the seed oil. Echium plantagineum seed oil contains 10-11% GLA; other sources include borage oil (22-25%), black current oil (about 15%), evening primrose oil (8-10%), and biotechnology-derived safflower oils (35-65%) and canola oils (36-40%) (Patterson 2006). GLA is considered to have many beneficial effects, and has been found effective as a treatment for eczema, hyperactivity disorders, certain cancers, high blood pressure, and swelling.

Stearidonic (SDA) acid is uncommon in plants. Seed oil produced from Echium plantagineum, however, can contain 9 to 16% stearidonic acid according to Berti et al. (2007). Guil-Guerrero et al. (2007) reports 30% saponifiable oil with 13% SDA for Echium plantagineum. Other sources of stearidonic acid include hemp seed (2-3%) (Callaway et al. 1996) and black current seed (2%) (Clough 1993), as well as other Echium species. Guil-Guerrero et al. (2003) report 28.7% saponifiable oil with 13.3% SDA for Echium vulgare, a very similar plant which is also weedy and non-native, but is already present in every province in Canada. Guil-Guerrero et al. (2007) list numerous other plants with similar or even higher levels of SDA in the Boraginaceae and Primulaceae families. Stearidonic acid is also valuable as a health supplement and for its moisturizing and anti-inflammatory action. Echium plantagineum has food use approval in the USA and is awaiting full approval in the EU.

The recent approval of refined echium oil by the FDA in the US has created an increased market opportunity. The approval of echium oil in the UK is still pending.

Potential Trade Impacts

Echium plantagineum is considered a noxious weed in all states and territories of Australia, with the exception of Queensland (Parsons and Cuthbertson 1992). It is regulated as a Category 1 weed in South Africa. In the US, it is considered a quarantine weed for the state of Oregon (USDA, NRCS 2007). If Echium plantagineum was allowed to be cultivated as a crop in Canada and became established, exports of Canada's major crops and other agricultural commodities would potentially be subject to quarantine measures by these or other countries.

Prohibition of Echium plantagineum from Canada would have minimal trade implications. A Phytosanitary Certificate is currently required for all grain imports from off-continent and for all imports of barley, wheat, triticale and rye from the continental US therefore the proposed measure will not require any additional documentation for these crops. Persons responsible for issuing a Phytosanitary Certificate for imports of grain into Canada would need to be confident that the shipment was free from Echium plantagineum as is the case now for three other invasive plant genera: Cuscuta, Orobanche and Striga. A table of major cereal grain imports into Canada for the past few years from countries and states known to support populations of Echium plantagineum has been included (Table 4). The countries which are known to support populations of Echium plantagineum are listed in the pest risk assessment (Castro 2007).

Table 4: Source and Value ($ Canadian) of Some Major Cereal Imports into Canada in 2007 from countries and states with Echium plantagineum
Barley Oats Rye Wheat Sorghum Corn
US-North Dakota8,454,224294,00631,627528,61420,76264,776,228
United Kingdom14324/27,372/12
New Zealand45411/7,598/84

Source: Trade Data Online (2008)

Note: Items highlighted in bold indicate higher level of risk based on quantity and cereal type. Figures are for 2007 only and may not be indicative of future trends.

The distribution of Echium plantagineum in the US is limited. It is known from two counties in Oregon and is under official control. Field trials were conducted in North Dakota, however they were limited. A 3 acre field trial occurred last year in Maine, but has been discontinued. A Phytosanitary Certificate is currently not required for soybean, corn and oats from Maine, however the risk of contamination of Echium plantagineum in corn and soybean is considered relatively low due to the large seed size of the commodity and harvesting height. California has the most significant infestation of Echium plantagineum in North America. However, in terms of cereal crops, Canada imports mainly corn from California.

Echium plantagineum is also grown and marketed in some parts of the world as a garden species because of its attractive flowers; however, the plant is rarely if ever sold in Canada. It has been identified as a component of three imported flower mixtures since 2007 (CFIA 2010, internal data). The average value of flower seeds, including seed mixtures, imported to Canada in the past five years is about $17,000 every year (Statistics Canada, 2010). Echium plantagineum can be avoided or replaced in flower mixtures by similar flower species without trade impacts.

Existing Domestic, Provincial or other Programs

Echium plantagineum has only recently been considered for use as a new, alternative crop in Canada. The species is not known to occur in Canada outside of cultivation. As a result, there are no existing Canadian programs related to its management.

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