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Glossary of phytosanitary terms

Phytosanitary terms and definitions



This reference standard presents a list of terms and definitions with specific meaning to plant quarantine personnel worldwide. It has been developed to provide an internationally recognized vocabulary for construction and implementation of phytosanitary measures so as to facilitate communication between trading parties.


Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures, 1994. World Trade Organization, Geneva.
FAO Glossary of Phytosanitary Terms, FAO Plant Protection Bulletin, 38 (1) 1990:5-23.
Guidelines for pest risk analysis, 1996. ISPM Pub. No. 2, FAO, Rome.
International Plant Protection Convention, 1992. FAO, Rome.
Requirements for the establishment of pest free areas, 1996. ISPM Pub. No. 4, FAO, Rome.

Outline of reference

This first revision of the Glossary supersedes the list originated as the "FAO Glossary of Phytosanitary Terms" published in English, French and Spanish (FAO, 1990). It includes phytosanitary terminology compiled and periodically reviewed by an international group of plant quarantine experts, with assistance provided by the Regional Plant Protection Organizations. This list has been prepared to assist National Plant Protection Organizations in information exchange on phytosanitary issues and in their harmonization of wording in official plant quarantine documents.

The new Glossary has been expanded to include the list in Arabic and Chinese as well, and is accompanied by a multilingual index cross-referencing all terms. A number of terms have been revised to improve technical and language clarity. Terms not found in this list may have been deleted as no longer needing a specialized description, or may still lack agreement internationally over their general meaning. Others may be so new that common definitions have yet to be developed.

Every attempt has been made to keep definitions simple and ensure consistency of language usage within the Glossary. Many words are already well accepted in agricultural trade. Core vocabulary terms are printed in bold and defined in relation to one another to avoid unnecessary repetition of elements described elsewhere. For example, "plants" includes "parts of so "parts of is not repeated. "Area" is "officially" defined, so it is not specified as such again.

It is hoped that new terms introduced in this revision will receive equivalent wide acceptance. As phytosanitary science develops further, additional terminology will be adopted and incorporated into future editions of the Glossary.

Phytosanitary terms and definitions

Additional declaration

A statement that is required by an importing country to be entered on a phytosanitary certificate and which provides specific additional information pertinent to the phytosanitary condition of a consignment


An officially defined country, part of a country or all or parts of several countries [revised, 1995]

Area endangered

See Endangered area

Bulbs and tubers

Dormant underground organs of plants intended for planting


An official document which attests to the phytosanitary status of any consignment affected by phytosanitary regulations

(of a consignment)

Verification of compliance with phytosanitary regulations [new, 1995]


A type of plant, plant product, or other regulated article being moved for trade or other purpose

Commodity class

A category of similar commodities that can be considered together in phytosanitary regulations


A quantity of plants, plant products and/or other regulated articles being moved from one country to another and covered by a single phytosanitary certificate (a consignment may be composed of one or more lots)


The application of phytosanitary measures in and around an infested area to prevent spread of a pest [new, 1995]

Control (of a pest)

Suppression, containment or eradication of a pest population [new, 1995]

Country of origin*

Country where a consignment of plants was grown

Country of re-export*

Country through which a consignment of plants passed and was split up, stored or had its packaging changed

Country of transit*

Country through which a consignment of plants passed without being split up, stored or having its packaging changed, without being exposed to contamination by pests in that country

Cut flowers and branches

Fresh parts of plants intended for decorative use and not for planting


Removal of bark from round wood (debarking does not necessarily make the wood bark-free)

Delimiting survey

Survey conducted to establish the boundaries of an area considered to be infested by or free from a pest

Detection survey

Survey conducted in an area to determine if pests are present [revised, 1995]


Keeping a consignment in official custody or confinement for phytosanitary reasons [revised, 1995]


Wood used to wedge or support cargo

Endangered area

An area where ecological factors favour the establishment of a pest whose presence in the area will result in economically important loss [new, 1995]

Entry (of a consignment)

Movement through a point of entry into an area [new, 1995]

Entry (of a pest)

Movement of a pest into an area where it is not yet present, or present but not widely distributed and being officially controlled [new, 1995]


The situation of phytosanitary measures which are not identical but have the same effect [new, 1995]


Application of phytosanitary measures to eliminate a pest from an area [revised, 1995; formerly Eradicate]

*Application of these terms to plant products and regulated articles depends on their nature


Perpetuation, for the foreseeable future, of a pest within an area after entry [revised, 1995; formerly Established]


Plot of land with defined boundaries within a place of production on which a commodity is grown

Field inspection

Inspection of plants in a field during the growing season

Find free

To inspect a consignment, field or place of production and consider it to be free from a specific pest

Free from

Of a consignment, field or place of production, without pests (or a specific pest) in numbers or quantities that can be detected by the application of phytosanitary procedures [revised, 1995]


Living; not dried, deep-frozen or otherwise conserved

Fruits and vegetables

Fresh parts of plants intended for consumption or processing


Treatment with a chemical agent that reaches the commodity wholly or primarily in a gaseous state [revised, 1995]


Plants intended for use in breeding or conservation programmes


Seeds intended for processing or consumption and not for planting (see Seeds)

Growing medium

Any material in which plant roots are growing or intended for that purpose

Growing season

Period of the year when plants will actively grow in an area

Growing season inspection See Field inspection


The establishment, recognition and application by different countries of phytosanitary measures based on common standards [new, 1995; definition based on the World Trade Organization Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures]

Host range

Species of plants capable, under natural conditions, of sustaining a specific pest

Immediate vicinity

Fields adjacent to a field, or places of production adjacent to a place of production

Import permit

Official document authorizing importation of a commodity in accordance with specified phytosanitary requirements [revised, 1995]


Official visual examination of plants, plant products or other regulated articles to determine if pests are present and/or to determine compliance with phytosanitary regulations [revised, 1995; formerly Inspect]


Person authorized by a National Plant Protection Organization to discharge its functions

(of a consignment)

The refusal or controlled entry of an imported consignment due to failure to comply with phytosanitary regulations [revised, 1995]

(of a pest)

The detection of a pest during inspection of an imported consignment


Entry of a pest resulting in its establishment [revised, 1995]


Abbreviation for the International Plant Protection Convention, as deposited in 1951 with FAO in Rome and as subsequently amended


A number of units of a single commodity, identifiable by its homogeneity of composition, origin, etc., forming part of a consignment

Monitoring survey

Ongoing survey to verify the characteristics of a pest population [new, 1995]

National Plant Protection Organization

Official service established by a government to discharge the functions specified by the IPPC [formerly Plant Protection Organization (National)]

Non-quarantine pest

Pest that is not a quarantine pest for an area [new, 1995]


Abbreviation for National Plant Protection Organization


The presence in an area of a pest officially reported to be indigenous or introduced and/or not officially reported to have been eradicated [revised, 1995; formerly Occur]


Established, authorized or performed by a National Plant Protection Organization


An isolated pest population, recently detected and expected to survive for the immediate future [new, 1995]


Any means that allows the entry or spread of a pest [revised, 1995]


Any species, strain or biotype of plant, animal, or pathogenic agent, injurious to plants or plant products [revised, 1995; definition subject to formal amendment of IPPC]

Pest free area

An area in which a specific pest does not occur as demonstrated by scientific evidence and in which, where appropriate, this condition is being officially maintained [new, 1995]

Pest risk analysis

Pest risk assessment and pest risk management [new, 1995]

Pest risk assessment

Determination of whether a pest is a quarantine pest and evaluation of its introduction potential [new, 1995]

Pest risk management

The decision-making process of reducing the risk of introduction of a quarantine pest [new, 1995]


Abbreviation for pest free area [new, 1995]


Pertaining to plant quarantine

Phytosanitary certificate

Certificate patterned after the model certificates of the IPPC

Phytosanitary certification

Use of phytosanitary procedures leading to the issue of a phytosanitary certificate

Phytosanitary legislation

Basic laws granting legal authority to a National Plant Protection Organization from which phytosanitary regulations may be drafted [revised, 1995]

Phytosanitary measure

Any legislation, regulation or official procedure having the purpose to prevent the introduction and/or spread of quarantine pests [new, 1995]

Phytosanitary procedure

Any officially prescribed method for performing inspections, tests, surveys or treatments in connection with plant quarantine [formerly Quarantine procedure]

Phytosanitary regulation

Official rule to prevent the introduction and/or spread of quarantine pests, by regulating the production, movement or existence of commodities or other articles, or the normal activity of persons, and by establishing schemes for phytosanitary certification [revised, 1995]

Place of production

Any premises or collection of fields operated as a single production or fanning unit

Plant pest

See Pest

Plant product

Unmanufactured material of plant origin (including grain) and those manufactured products that, by their nature or that of their processing, may create a risk for the spread of pests

Plant protection organization

See National Plant Protection Organization and Regional Plant Protection Organization

Plant quarantine

All activities designed to prevent the introduction and/or spread of quarantine pests or to ensure their official control [revised, 1995]

(including replanting)

Any operations for the placing of plants in a growing medium to ensure their subsequent growth, reproduction or propagation


Living plants and parts thereof, including seeds

Plants for planting

Plants intended to remain planted, to be planted or replanted

Plants in tissue culture

Plants in a clear aseptic medium in a closed transparent container

Point of entry

Airport, seaport or land border point officially designated for the importation of consignments, and/or entrance of passengers [new, 1995]

Post-entry quarantine

Quarantine applied to a consignment after entry [new, 1995]


Abbreviation for pest risk analysis [new, 1995]

PRA area

Area in relation to which a pest risk analysis is conducted [new, 1995]

Practically free

Of a consignment, field or place of production, without pests (or a specific pest) in numbers or quantities in excess of those that can be expected to result from, and be consistent with, good culturing and handling practices employed in the production and marketing of the commodity [revised, 1995]


Phytosanitary certification and/or clearance in the country of origin, performed by or under the regular supervision of the National Plant Protection Organization of the country of destination [revised, 1995]


A phytosanitary regulation forbidding the importation or movement of specified pests or commodities [revised, 1995]

Propagative material

See Plants for planting


Official confinement of plants or plant products subject to phytosanitary regulations for observation and research or for farther inspection, testing and/or treatment [revised, 1995]

Quarantine area

An area within which a quarantine pest is present and is being officially controlled [revised, 1995]

Quarantine pest

A pest of potential economic importance to the area endangered thereby and not yet present there, or present but not widely distributed and being officially controlled [revised, 1995; definition subject to formal amendment of IPPC]

Quarantine procedure

See Phytosanitary procedure

Quarantine station

Official station for holding plants or plant products in quarantine [revised, 1995; formerly Quarantine station or facility]


Forbidding entry of a consignment or other regulated article when it fails to comply with phytosanitary regulations [revised, 1995]


The combined territories of the member countries of a Regional Plant Protection Organization

Regional Plant Protection Organization

Intergovernmental organization with the functions laid down by Article VIII of the IPPC [formerly Plant Protection Organization (Regional)]

Regulated article

Any storage place, conveyance, container or any other object or material capable of harbouring or spreading pests, particularly where international transportation is involved [revised, 1995]

(of a consignment)

Authorization for entry after clearance [new, 1995]


See Planting

Round wood

Wood not sawn longitudinally, carrying its natural rounded surface, with or without bark


Abbreviation for Regional Plant Protection Organization

Sawn wood

Wood sawn longitudinally, with or without its natural rounded surface, with or without bark


Seeds for planting, not for consumption or processing (see Grain)


Expansion of the geographical distribution of a pest within an area [new, 1995]


Document, established by consensus and approved by a recognized body, that provides, for common and repeated use, rules, guidelines or characteristics for activities or their results, aimed at the achievement of the optimum degree of order in a given context [new, 1995; ISO/IEC GUIDE 2: 1991 definition]

Stored product

Unmanufactured plant product intended for consumption or processing, stored in a dried form (this includes in particular grain and dried fruits and vegetables)


The application of phytosanitary measures in an infested area to reduce pest populations and thereby limit spread [new, 1995]


Methodical procedure to determine the characteristics of a pest population or to determine which species occur in an area


Official examination, other than visual, to determine if pests are present or to identify pests

Tissue culture

See Plants in tissue culture


See Country of transit


The principle of making available, at the international level, phytosanitary measures and their rationale [new, 1995]


Officially authorized procedure for the killing, removal or rendering infertile of pests [revised, 1995]


Round wood, sawn wood, wood chips or dunnage, with or without bark

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