En EspaŅol

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?


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
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
Not Yet Rated

Sunday - March 08, 2009

From: Saxton, PA
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Shrubs
Title: Penalty for picking Kalmia latifolia in Pennsylvania
Answered by: Nan Hampton


What if any is the penalty for picking the Mountain Laurel wild flower in Pennsylvania when it is in bloom?


Here is what the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation says about Kalmia latifolia (mountain laurel):

"There is a persistent myth that the designation of State flower affords Mountain laurel a protected status. This is not true. No one may remove any plant from public or private land without the landowner's or land manager's permission. But there are no legal restrictions on the cultivation of Mountain laurel."

So, if you have a friend with a mountain laurel, you can pick the flowers with no penalty if they don't mind.  If you pick the flowers on private land without the owner's consent, you could be cited for trespassing and, perhaps, theft.  The rules that apply on public lands are below.

The rules and regulations (applicable to public lands) of the Pennsylvania Conservation and Natural Resources  17 PA CODE § 11.210 say: 

"(a) The following activities are prohibited except with written permission of the Department, or except as provided in subsection (b):  (1)  Cutting, picking, digging, damaging or removing, in whole or in part, a living or dead tree, shrub or plant."

Subsection (b) deals with edible fruits, nuts, berries and fungi that may be gathered "in reasonable amounts, for one's own personal or family cosumption".

Violation of rules regarding conduct on Common wealth property - 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 7506 says:

"Violation penalty.--A person who violates any of the rules and regulations promulgated pursuant to this section is guilty of a summary offense."

A summary offense in Pennsylvania, according to post from a police officer on "Ask a Cop" is "any offense that is punishable by a fine of up to $300 and/or 90 days (max) in jail."

Summary offenses are heard and decided by a district judge. You can read more about them here.

Kalmia latifolia





More Shrubs Questions

Apartment Landscaping
September 13, 2005 - I live in an apartment and have a small patch filled with rocks and an ugly plant I don't know the name of. I want to take out the existing plants and put something else in. It has to be hearty,low m...
view the full question and answer

Picture in newspaper from Austin
June 02, 2012 - Your gardening story for the Jan 21,2012 in the Austin American Statesman pictured a pale green bush with purple flowers, however the plant was not identified. Can you tell me what it is? Thanks
view the full question and answer

Blue Mist Ageratum Shrub?
June 16, 2015 - Is there a shrub version of Blue Mistflower Ageratum? I believe we saw some at the Butterfly Center in MacAllen. Would it survive in Georgetown, TX?
view the full question and answer

What fertilizer can make potted plants flower in Austin, TX?
July 05, 2011 - I have a Lantana and esmarelda planted in large pots. They froze last winter but have both come back strong except they do not bloom even though I have fertilized. Is there something special I need ...
view the full question and answer

Care of non-native Buddha Belly bamboos
November 08, 2014 - I have several budha belly bamboos. They froze down last winter. I have got them back to 5 ft. I need them around 8-10 for privacy. Any suggestions? Also how to I protect them this winter?
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center