Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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

More on bluebonnets
May 02, 2006 - How are bluebonnets used by wildlife?
view the full question and answer

Is it illegal to pick the state flower (Mountain laurel) in Connecticut?
March 25, 2009 - Is it illegal to pick the state flower (mountain laurel) in CT?
view the full question and answer

Establishing a wildflower meadow in Madison GA
January 21, 2010 - Can a wildflower meadow be established by seeding in a sunny pasture without removing all existing vegetation, just mowing low and slightly loosening soil with the teeth on a front end loader?
view the full question and answer

Wildflower preparation for winter
October 22, 2009 - I live in Onieda New York and I would like to know what do I do with my wild flowers before winter so they look great next year?
view the full question and answer

Seeding south Florida native wildflower meadow
March 06, 2008 - Information about seeding a south Florida native wildflower meadow. Have only found information north Florida.
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.