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Annual St. Patrick’s Day Shamrock Gift Highlights Relationship Between Ireland and the United States and the Importance of Plant Health

The spirit of The International Year of Plant Health (IYPH) was in full force this St. Patrick’s Day when President Joe Biden was presented with a shamrock bowl by the Irish Taoiseach (Irish for “chief or leader” – pronounced “tee-shuhk”), Micheál Martin, on March 17, 2021 at the White House. The shamrock bowl was delivered to the White House earlier in the week and presented to President Biden virtually. The tradition of this annual gift from the people of Ireland started in the early 1950s when Ireland’s first Ambassador, John J. Hearne, sent a small box of shamrocks to President Harry Truman.

Spread the Word, Not the Weeds

Deceptively delicate and fragile in appearance, the Eurasian watermilfoil forms thick mats in shallow areas of a lake, quickly growing and spreading to block sunlight, killing off native aquatic plants that fish and other underwater species rely on for food and shelter.

A Story of Plant Protection: Ireland’s St. Patrick’s Day Gift to President Trump

Plants can serve as a profound symbol of friendship, especially when they cross an ocean to help two nations strengthen their bonds. I witnessed this firsthand on March 9, when I visited the Irish Embassy in Washington, D.C., joining Irish Ambassador to the United States Daniel Mulhall as he received a shipment of Ireland’s iconic shamrock plants. Embassy staff later arranged those shamrocks in an elegant, engraved crystal bowl for Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar to present to President Trump as a St. Patrick’s Day gift. That token of goodwill continued an annual tradition spanning 50 years.

Tribal Plant Nurseries are About More than Growing Plants

Numerous tribes throughout the US are growing native plants for reforestation and restoration. For many of them however, there are deeper connections with the plants they’re propagating. Sure, the plants fulfill an ecological purpose for the projects they’re intended for, but often there can be deeper cultural connections as well. That is, seedlings intended for a restoration project may contain species of plants the tribe used traditionally.

Traveling to South Korea for the Olympics? Bring Back Great Memories, Not a Pest or Disease

The Winter Olympics begin shortly in South Korea, bringing us two weeks of incredible athletic performances. While many of us will watch the games from our TVs, computers or phones, some lucky individuals will travel to witness the games in person. And when traveling, people often bring back items as souvenirs or as gifts for those of us at home. If you are traveling to the Olympics (or anywhere outside the country), keep in mind there are rules about agricultural products being brought into the U.S.