Foraging rules – by James Wong

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.

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