Be sure to check with local authorities before you gather fruit, flowers, and foliage in the wild for personal use. Below are a few guidelines that should always be followed when harvesting plants:
- Don’t pick anything unless you’re absolutely sure of its identity. It is very easy to confuse two plants that look alike or have similar names; or example, harmless, edible, sweet cicely (Myrrhis odorata) and toxic hemlock (Conium maculatum) look very similar. Take a well-illustrated field guide with you to help identify plants.
- Don’t pick alongside busy roads or on agricultural land, because the plants are likely to be polluted or sprayed with pesticides and chemical fertilizers. Remember, pesticides can travel a large distance in the wind so it is important to find out about chemical use in your area before doing any picking.
- Harvest only as much as you will use, and don’t take more than half the leaves, fruit or stems of any plant. Always leave enough for wildlife to eat and to ensure future plant generations. If there’s not enough of a plant to leave some of it behind, then don’t pick it.
- Check with the local property owner before digging anything up: You have a legal obligation to get permission first. Also, it is illegal to remove plants from a national park.
- Don’t dig up roots unless they are from a prolific plant, such as dandelion. Also be sure not to harvest too many roots from any one area.
- Never pick a rare or endangered species.