Feds Take Woman’s Lemon Tree

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WAUKESHA, Wis., Aug. 31 (UPI) — A Wisconsin woman says she’s more than a little sour now that the U.S. government has forced her to turn over her lemon tree on grounds it could spread disease.

Bridget Donovan bought the tree online for $70 nearly three years ago and planted it in the yard of her Waukesha home, where she and her niece nurtured it, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.

It grew and yielded lemons and seemed to be healthy.

Then she got a letter from the U.S. Agriculture Department.

“Unfortunately, Meyer Lemon Tree (the seller) shipped your tree in violation of multiple quarantine laws enacted to prevent the spread of harmful plant diseases and pests,” the letter stated.

The Journal Sentinel said the tree had come from Florida, under quarantine at the time of the purchase because of diseases, and the government tracked where nursery stock had been shipped.

Last week, the Journal Sentinel said, she uprooted the tree, with five unripened lemons, and put it in a trash bag, as instructed.

A USDA officer met her at the school where she works to pick up the tree.

Alyn Kiel, a spokeswoman for the Agriculture Department, said about 1,000 citrus plant owners have been affected by the seizures.

Meanwhile, Meyer Lemon Tree, which lists a Georgia address, apologized and offered Donovan a free replacement tree.

“I just hope the USDA is correct in that these (replacement trees) are now compliant, and I don’t have them show up again in three years,” Donovan said. “I’ll be on a citrus watch list.”

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