Florists warned over use of kiwifruit vine cuttings

By John Cousins


Florists have been asked to stop using kiwifruit vine offcuts in their floral arrangements because of fears they could be contributing to the spread of the vine killing disease Psa-V.

Kiwifruit Vine Health (KVH) said there was a "very real risk" that the disease could be spread by the movement of floral arrangements and bouquets.

"It makes you realise how innocent things can have fairly devastating consequences," KVH board member Peter Ombler told the Bay of Plenty Times Weekend. He represents New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers on the board.

Mr Ombler said the vines had been used as floral art for years and plant material was not always dead.

It could go anywhere, including to uninfected areas of the country.

He said KVH was not pinpointing blame and there was no evidence to suggest floral arrangements had contributed to the spread of Psa, but it was a risk. Kiwifruit plant material in floral arrangements could carry the disease without any physical expression of the symptoms, he said.

Brambles Boutique Florist owner Donna Macpherson said the use of kiwifruit vines was discussed informally at a recent meeting of florists where it was agreed that, to be on the safe side, they should stop using them.

"It is obviously problematic."

She has never used kiwifruit vines in her arrangements, preferring softer vines, and believes it is not commonly used by other florists. Kiwifruit vines were seasonal, reasonably expensive for a few strands of vine and not always available, she said.

Most kiwifruit prunings went in the mulcher but someone in Auckland had seized the opportunity to go to growers and take away some of their offcuts. They were then cleaned and bundled for presentation on the auction floor.

Rachel Masters from Tauranga's biggest florist, Grey Street Flower Company, said they always sourced their vines commercially rather than going directly to a grower. It was premium florist-grade material and although she did not know where the vines came from originally, they assumed it would be safe to use.

"We have not used it for a while ... different florists source their material from different places." She said it was possible but highly unlikely that florists would courier their arrangements or bouquets outside the region they lived in. "It would damage the flowers."

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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