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Tuesday - September 21, 2010

From: Blue Ridge, NC
Region: Southeast
Topic: Seed and Plant Sources
Title: Wildflower Seed Collection Along Public Road in Blue Ridge, North Carolina
Answered by: Marilyn Kircus

QUESTION:

I live in North Carolina and would like to plant native wildflowers on a steep bank in my yard. I live on a rural dirt road and most of the plants I want grow wild on the side of the road. Can I legally harvest seeds from the native, non-threatened/endangered/protected wildflowers during my daily walks? I hate to buy non-native versions of these plants and risk having one self-seed and displace the natives. I don't want to harvest the plants or venture off the roadway onto someone's property.

ANSWER:

Mr. Smarty Plants is not a lawyer so can't give you legal advice.  You can  look up the laws for your state. But you can probably gather seed without getting arrested. In Texas, I have helped to gather grass seed along a railroad to replant native prairies. And if it is legal for you to collect seeds in your state, be sure to leave some to replant the collection area.

Some of native plant seeds need to be chilled before they will sprout. It may be easier to just buy the seeds from a native seed store than to find out how to treat each species of seed.  But you can sow the seeds this fall and they will continue to sprout over the next few years.

You might also want to check to see if your local chapter of the Native Plant Society has sales or seed/plant swaps. Click here to see the web page for the state. I see they sponser plant rescues.  If you help with a plant rescue, you usually donate some of the plants you rescue and get to keep the rest.  I've had enjoyable times rescuing grasses, shrubs and trees this way but some of the perennial wildflowers, like prairie verbena, can also be dug and moved to your slope. You can also collect seeds if the plants have them.

Click here to see a list of nurseries and seed suppliers from North Carolina.

 

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