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Basic Laws of Picking Wild Flowers

It's so tempting to pick wildflowers, like wild bluebells and daffodils, when they fill the countryside in a mass of colourful blooms.

But, unless you are familiar with the laws of picking wild flowers, removing them from forbidden land could cost you a fine up to £5,000 (or imprisonment).

UK Picking Flowers Law Falls Under Two Categories:

  • The Wildlife and Countryside Act of 1981
  • Theft Act 1968 (replacing the Larceny Act 1916)

There is a notable difference between these two laws, even though lawmakers might consider it to be a ‘technicality’.

The rules distinguish between the act of handpicking flowers growing wild, and removing those which someone has ‘purposefully’ planted.

The 1981 Wildlife and Countryside Act protects several hundred species of rare, and endangered, plants in the United Kingdom.

Picking wild flowers protected by the Act can result in a fine up to £5,000. What’s more, the worst offenders may face a prison sentence instead.

The master section covers popular gardening rules and how to deal with common horticultural problems. In the mean time, here is a short reminder of how to avoid a penalty when picking Spring flowers this season.

Rules and Regulations for Picking Flowers

Most of the rules and regulations regarding picking wild flowers on British soil are not too complex. Even so, the authorities use various sets of guidelines and codes of conduct to enforce them.

That said, there is no substitute for common sense on many of the flower picking issues. For example, plucking flowers from someone’s front garden is almost certain to land you in big trouble.

So what about the removal of flowers elsewhere, such as in the English countryside? Extra guidance comes from the Countryside Code, introduced in 2004.

One of the aims of the code is encouraging people to protect the natural environment. It emphasizes the need to avoid damaging, destroying, or removing features found in the UK countryside. Thus, it applies to flowers, plants, rocks, and trees.

Note: Following these 10 rules on picking wild flowers will help you stay on the right side of the law – because the Countryside Code in the United Kingdom can get a little ‘blurry’.

When Picking Flowers, You Should:

  1. Pick flowers that are not critically endangered or privately owned.
  2. Pick only one (1) flower from a patch of twenty (20). It is best to leave them as they are, and not take any, if there are fewer than twenty.
  3. Take flowers from patches where they grow in abundance and leave plenty for other flower pickers to enjoy.
  4. Leave a substantial amount of the plant unharmed (e.g. stem and root) so it can continue to grow.

When Picking Flowers, You Should Not:

  1. Pick flowers that are growing in community gardens or in public parks.
  2. Pick flowers from National Trust property or from nature reserves.
  3. Pick flowers from highway roundabouts (the local councils will be maintaining them).
  4. Intentionally pick, uproot, or destroy any plant unless you have permission from the landowner (or the land occupier).
  5. Pick any flower found on the Schedule 8 list of protected plants.
  6. Disturb any wildlife that exists in the same area. Read more about wildlife and conservation in Great Britain.

Picking Wild Flowers Law in United Kingdom