Abstract Five Gram-negative, rod-shaped, non-spore-forming bacteria were isolated from galls on different plant species in Hungary: strain 39/7T from Prunus cerasifera Myrobalan, strain 0 from grapevine var. Ezerjó, strain 7/1 from raspberry var. Findus and in Poland, strain C3.4.1 from Colt rootstock (Prunus avium×Prunus pseudocerasus) and strain CP17.2.2 from Prunus avium. Only one of these isolates, strain 0, is able to cause crown gall on different plant species. On the basis of 16S rRNA gene sequence similarity, the strains cluster together and belong to the genus Rhizobium and their closest relative is Rhizobium radiobacter (99.1%). Phylogenetic analysis of the novel strains using housekeeping genes atpD, glnA, gyrB, recA and rpoB revealed their distinct position separate from other known Rhizobium species and confirmed their relation to Rhizobium radiobacter. The major cellular fatty acids are 18:1 w7c, 16:0, 16:0 3OH, summed feature 2 (comprising 12:0 aldehyde, 16:1 iso I and/or 14:0 3OH) and summed feature 3 (comprising 16:1 w7c and/or 15 iso 2OH). DNA–DNA hybridization of strain 39/7T with the type strain of R. radiobacter LMG 140T revealed 45% DNA–DNA hybridization. Phenotypic and physiological properties differentiate the novel isolates from other closely related species. On the basis of the results obtained, the five isolates are considered to represent a novel species of the genus Rhizobium, for which the name Rhizobium nepotum sp. nov. (type strain 39/7T=LMG 26435T=CFBP 7436T) is proposed.