En Español

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
2 ratings

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

Getting Started

 

More Wildflowers Questions

First to Bloom in Western PA
October 02, 2010 - What spring wildflower is consistently among the first to bloom in Butler, PA?
view the full question and answer

Identity of sunflower
November 02, 2012 - I am not able to find how to post a picture to help you identify a plant on our campus. I believe the plant I am trying to identify is a rough sunflower. (Helianthus hirsutus) We have zexmenia as ...
view the full question and answer

Wildflowers for April wedding near Austin TX
August 31, 2015 - Home wedding April 2016. Live North of Austin.on 200 acres ranch and would like to plant wildflowers. What to plant? When to plant? Flowers that will sustain in vase or bouquet?
view the full question and answer

Source for seed of Blackfoot Daisy from Amarillo TX
October 29, 2011 - I need help finding Melampodium leucanthum seed. I have spent the last few hours on the web searching for them. I checked the resources in your lists and cannot find seed. I live in Potter Coun...
view the full question and answer

Native flowers for an English garden in New Jersey
August 06, 2008 - I am working on a English type garden and trying to achieve the most color flowers, mainly the longest summer blooms. I live in Port Monmouth NJ. Any suggestions for the best and longest summer bloo...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center