Scofflaw Lemon Tree Escapes Florida, Causes Interstate Incident

Florida is apparently under quarantine because of diseases that affect the quality of citrus fruit. This isn’t information your average person from Wisconsin is in possession of, so when the United States Department of Agriculture wrote to one Waukesha woman to let her know that she’d have to give up her Meyer lemon tree, she was a little confused.

“Unfortunately,” the letter from the Department of Agriculture said, “Meyer Lemon Tree shipped your tree in violation of multiple quarantine laws enacted to prevent the spread of harmful plant diseases and pests,” including citrus greening and citrus canker disease, reports the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.

Apparently this is a really big deal. Federal agents wanted to come and remove the tree. No throwing it out.

The woman called the nearest USDA office in Des Plaines, IL, where an agent offered to personally confiscate the tree. Attempts to persuade them to reconsider were futile.

“If you are refusing to give up the tree, we will come to your house and quarantine the tree in the house,” the agent’s supervisor said. Fines were also possible.

The tree eventually found its way into a giant red quarantine bag and a replacement tree has been offered by the mail-order company. They blame a scofflaw Florida supplier that they have since stop using.

Speaking of lemons, we couldn’t help but think of the immortal Cave Johnson’s thoughts on what to do when life hands you the sour yellow fruit:

Mail-order potted citrus plant ripens into pickle of a problem [JS Online]