Explore Plants

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
    
 

Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
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 Plant Laws Questions

Moving plants from Texas to Florida
September 27, 2013 - Hi, I found your answer for the person traveling from Florida to Texas, I am going the opposite way. Do I need to have my house and yard plants certified by Texas Dept of Agriculutre? If so how do I ...
view the full question and answer

Optimum mowing times for wildflower garden
November 09, 2004 - I live in Washington County and have 4 acres that contain both an abundance of spring wildflowers and native grasses (silver and little bluestem, Texas grama). The homeowners restrictions require that...
view the full question and answer

Is it legal to pick wildflowers from the roadside in NY?
July 10, 2011 - Hi, Is it legal to pick most wildflowers from the roadside in upstate NY? Thanks!
view the full question and answer

Florida law on removing orange trees
March 24, 2007 - I live in a co-op mobile home park with a board of directors that tell me that if I have to cut down my orange tree that Florida law says that I have to replace it with another orange tree. I say that...
view the full question and answer

Moving houseplants from New York to Florida
August 02, 2011 - We are relocating to Florida from New York and would like to bring our houseplants with us. Are there any laws forbidding indoor plant transport into Florida???
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.