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Tuesday - May 20, 2008

From: Edgewood, PA
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Plant Laws, Wildflowers
Title: Laws concerning picking wildflowers in Pennsylvania
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

What is the law (in Pennsylvania or Federal law) that makes it illegal to pick wildflowers and/or other native plants?

ANSWER:

Oh, my, the wildflower picking rumors are flying again. In Texas, at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, every year we hear parents admonishing their children not to pick the bluebonnets or they will go to jail. Of course, we ask that flowers not be picked on the Center property, so that all can enjoy them, but we don't call up the police to come and take offenders to jail.

Most botanical gardens and State and National parks and forests will urge you not to pick the native plants for the same reason, so that others may enjoy them. Just about anywhere, going onto private property to remove anything, including wildflowers, without the permission of the owner, is criminal trespass. Highway departments all over the country urge drivers not to pull off on the roadway to pick flowers because of the hazards, and they certainly frown on digging up plants on the right-of-way.

In Pennsylvania, there is a law prohibiting the moving of the native (and state flower) Kalmia latifolia (mountain laurel). That, of course, is to keep unscrupulous dealers from denuding the land of the plant in order to sell it to landscapers. This U.S. Department of the Interior National Park Service website on the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area (on the New Jersey and Pennslvania shores of the Middle Delaware River) says that the wildflowers within the Area are protected by Federal law and may not be picked nor dug up for transplanting. This is likely the case on many State and Federal properties, and there will be signs clearly posted with the rules.

On the Federal level, there is the Endangered Species Act of 1973. There are very specific penalties for violating this law, so it would pay anyone to not pick any wildflower not identified as common and unprotected.

Finally, we have some articles on wildflowers we would like you to read. We particularly like the suggestion in the one on arranging wildflowers that you grow your own. That's one way to avoid the problem of whose property you are on, etc. So, we also threw in an article on wildflower gardening.

Alternatives to Collecting Wildflowers

Wildflower Arrangements

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