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Agricultural Commodity Identification Aid Manual

Commodities by Name Search

Select Commodity


The following people have contributed to the production of this aid, both at the California Department of Food and Agriculture and the United States Department of Agriculture: Doug Barbe, Tad Bell, Naomi Britt, Jackie Chesi, Nick Condos, Suki Diaz, Jim Effenberger, Jeff Hillard, Sharon Ishikawa, Asif Maan, Dave Nelson, Ralph Percious, Sharlene Schaffer, Janamjeet Sohal, Trena Toney, Timothy Torbett, Steve Travis, Richard Wion, and the Plant Protection Officers of Los Angeles and San Francisco International Airports. The photographs in this aid are credited to Vince Arellano and Laurie Smith.


As the growing demand for foreign or "exotic" agricultural commodities increases the risk of introducing unwanted pests, it concomitantly requires agricultural inspectors to make regulatory decisions on items not commonly seen in North America.

Thus, this pictorial index was created as an aid to assist inspectors with the identification of commodities not normally encountered in California. We stress the word "aid," as final determinations should be made by a qualified plant biologist or botanist.

Common names, scientific names, and descriptions were compiled from a list of references. Authorities cited to the scientific names were verified, where possible, through the United States Department of Agriculture's GRIN database. Descriptions are in the generic, as well as the pictures. Please be aware that varieties vary throughout the world. For example, there are hundreds of varieties of mangoes in the world; they vary in shape, size, and color. We have included a picture of a mango from Thailand. It might not look exactly like a mango from the Philippines. The same goes for eggplants, peppers, papayas, etc., from different sources and countries. We hope you get the picture (no pun intended). Origins, more appropriately common international origins, were compiled by personal interviews at California's international ports of entry.

We hope to periodically update this aid to include a range of commodities that may represent an increased risk of introducing new pests into California.

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