Wild Plants and the Law


The law governing foraging, the picking of wild plants for your personal use, varies from country to country around the world.  You should always check with the authority relevant to your local situation prior to foraging for wild plants.  Even in the UK, laws relating to access rights are different in Scotland to those in and England and Wales.

In the UK, all wild plants are given some protection under the law.  Under the Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981, it is illegal to uproot (defined as to ‘dig up or otherwise remove the plant from the land on which it is growing’), any wild plants without permission from the landowner or the occupier of that land. Under the Act, the term ‘plant’ includes algae, lichens and fungi as well the higher plants (e.g. mosses, liverworts and plants that produce seeds).

It is an offence to uproot plants for commercial purposes without authorisation.

Some plants are specially protected.  The Wildlife and Countryside Act contains a list of endangered plants, which are protected against intentional picking, uprooting and destruction. These plants are also protected against sale.

Fundamentally, the aim is to promote the conservation of wild plants, whilst encouraging the enjoyment of the countryside.

Fundamentally, the aim is to promote the conservation of wild plants, whilst encouraging the enjoyment of the countryside. This means that picking is acceptable in some cases, but in other circumstances plants are better left for others to enjoy.

There are some general rules.  Take flowers and foliage only from large patches of the plant.  Always pick in moderation so that plenty is left for others to enjoy and be careful not to damage other vegetation when picking.

There are a number of websites offering advice about the legality of foraging (see links attached).  They are well summarised by Mark Williams of Galloway Wild Foods. “Generally speaking, most foraging is fine if exercised with care, a little research and respect for other land users or owners.”

For further information see (UK only)…




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