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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





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