February 23, 2023

Wildflowers are incredible, so when we see them along the roadside, it’s natural to want to pick them, take them home, and enjoy them. They provide a beautiful color contrast especially in our urban areas, but even there, play an essential role in the local ecosystem. 

As you walk around, you may wonder, is it illegal to pick wildflowers? It’s not going to be jail time, but many people have the belief that it could get you in trouble. So, is it illegal in the U.S. to pick wildflowers growing by the roadside?

Well, don't pull out the handcuffs just yet ... like many answers ... it depends on your situation. For example, according to theTexas Department of Public Safety picking the flowers in the public right of way is legal, but cautions against removing plants. Picking plants on private property will subject you to laws against criminal trespass, but you are perfectly protected by law to pick public wildflowers, even the state flower theTexas Bluebonnet.

 On the other hand, there are areas designated by certain states as wildflower areas. These are often plainly marked and it is illegal to pick flowers in these areas. It’s considered a misdemeanor to pick wildflowers in California, New York,Virginia, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Oregon, and Colorado and you could be fined.

Is it illegal to pick flowers in National Forest, Parks or Monuments?

In National Forests, Parks or Monuments, it is illegal to pick or collect plants without a permit.On Bureau of Land Management (BLM)land it is permissible to pick a few flowers, seeds, berries, seeds, nuts, cones or other plant parts in small amounts as long as they are not intended for commercial use. 

Collecting Wildflowers Legally

First, picking endangered or protected species is always illegal. Second, there are a number of traffic laws that create a problem for those picking wildflowers on the side of the road. For example, it is illegal to impede traffic, walk along or on a highway, block a road, street or highway or park on the median and usually on the emergency shoulder unless you are having an emergency. If you are on private land and you have been given permission by the owner than it is perfectly legal to pick the wildflowers.

Being A Model Citizen

Many wildflowers may wilt and perish soon after being picked, they are often fragile, meant to be enjoyed and admired not taken. Imagine an eye-popping, sherbert colored California Poppy, which provides an incredible buffet for native bees, but when picked lasts less than 24 hours in a vase. Wildflowers are there to support pollinators, birds, and small animals. We encourage you togrow wildflowers if you want to pick them. Butterflies, native bees, hummingbirds, and other insects, depend on seeds, nectar, and pollen for their food, and nutrients.

There is a beautiful sign in San Bruno park that says "Wildflowers are for everyone, please don't pick them." which is a motto I can stand behind. Because aesthetically, they are more potent when you let others enjoy their beauty as well, not to mention the benefit of pollen and nectar for the local pollinators. In states like Texas, Indiana, and Missouri, it’s technically legal but discouraged.

Picking wildflowers in the UK.

If you’re picking wildflowers in the UK, this area of legality is specifically covered under the 1968 Theft Act (England and Wales): That law states that, “A person who picks mushrooms growing wild on any land, or who picks flowers, fruit or foliage from a plant growing wild on any land, does not (although not in possession of the land) steal what he picks, unless he does it for reward, or for sale or other commercial purpose”. So there you go, pick as you go and enjoy throughout the week…

Planting wildflowers is great fun and brings the rainbow right into your world. If this inspires you to grow wildflowers and you find the process rewarding, why not try Best Wildflower Seed Bombs! Click here for details. It’s easier than you think!

Let’s grow the rainbow together! 

Tag us in your growing photos, both planting and growing, for a chance to win 10,000 Seedles! Tag #growtherainbow and #flowerbomb for a chance to win.


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