Contrary to what you might read on wikipedia, or occasionally hear along the byeways and bridlepaths, it is not illegal to pick primroses. It’s a common conception, “there aren’t as many around as there used to be”, but they are not a species in jeopardy, and they do not feature on the list of plants (Schedule 8) which accompanies the protective law in this country (The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981).
There are restrictions on picking for commercial gain in Britain – harvests would belong to the landowner not the picker, plus the legal system’s notion of human nature is that, if there is money to be made, boundless greed and exploitation of resources logically follow. (To be sure, there’ll be plenty of precedents for this…)
Interestingly, in America, a license from the forest service ought to be acquired for any wild plant collection. In Australia, permits now cover the import and export of certain regulated species. Their parliament has argued in favour of a wild flower industry worth $30 million in the late 1990s, stating, “The Western Australian Government believes that the bush harvesting of wildflowers is a good example of sustainable use of wildlife aiding conservation because the placement of an economic value on natural habitats provides an incentive for landholders to retain remnant bushland.”
The other stipulation in British law is that plants shouldn’t be dug up without the landowner’s permission. Again, the law leans in to contend matters of property. But anyone foraging wisely, who cares about the sustainability of their find, would already be a little averse to digging things up.
So the message this mother’s day is go forth and pick her some primroses!