Forum home Talkback

Stealing or foraging?

TootlesTootles Posts: 1,469

Does anyone know what the official line is on when foraging becomes risk of stealing? For example, picking blackberries in a field; is that foraging? Digging up snowdrops in the wild; is that stealing? Taking cuttings from wild plants; foraging? Picking a daffodil in the wild; stealing? 

Obviously if the landowner is known then one would just ask before doing any of the above, but what about when you are walking in the countryside / wilderness? 



  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Posts: 87,858

    As someone who grew up in a farming family I would never pick blackberries from someone's field without the permission of the farmer - it is theft.  Also, unless there's a public right of way, what would you be doing in the field? 

    Digging up or picking snowdrops and other 'wild' flowers is illegal unless you have the permission of the owner.  Some plants are specifically protected by law and cannot be dug up even with permission. 

    All land belongs to someone - there is no 'wilderness' in the UK. Keep to public rights of way and always ask permission from the owner before picking . 



    Gardening in Central Norfolk on improved gritty moraine over chalk ... free-draining.

  • GemmaJFGemmaJF Posts: 2,286

    In general it will often come down to local bylaws - so a given sight might have a bylaw which makes collection of any plant material and removal from a site an offence. Generally one would assume the land owner 'owns' the material and therefore if one doesn't have their permission to take it, it is theft.

    When it comes to wildlfowers there is a code of conduct here and explanation of the law here:

    There isn't much wilderness in the UK that I can ever find, there is always a land owner, bylaws etc. Though I think simple discretion and common sense prevails in most circumstances. image

  • GemmaJFGemmaJF Posts: 2,286

    Was still typing when you posted Dove, glad we were pretty consistent in our replies. image

  • Tropical SamTropical Sam Posts: 1,488

    I have no problems in taking seeds from gardens, restaurants, garden centres, parks etc. Taking seeds off of plants is normally benign and the odd one that ends up in your pocket is not going to make a difference.

    Going out with a shovel and taking a whole plant is clearly different as you are depriving someone of something.

    Cuttings are a gray area for me - an overgrown plant and no one will notice but I know some people steal from rare plants and they are literally picked to death, so difficult to give a generic answer.

  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Posts: 87,858

    Gemma image

    Pansyface - many years ago Ma had a couple of sacks of daffodil bulbs as a present as we knew she'd long wanted to plant daffodils either side of the farm driveway.  She spent ages digging holes in the rough grass and planting the daffs.

    One day we came home from shopping to find a car parked in the driveway and two strangers picking Ma's daffodils - they had buckets full - and couldn't see they'd done anything wrong  image


    Gardening in Central Norfolk on improved gritty moraine over chalk ... free-draining.

  • Zoomer44Zoomer44 Posts: 3,267

    Tootles has something prompted your Q.

    Just to add...I've invasive brambles growing over the fence onto my allotment plot from the railway embankment, is it stealing or foraging to pick the blackberries and should BR be asked first if it's ok to pick them or is this public land?   

  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Posts: 87,858
    Zoomer44 wrote (see)

    .............. should BR be asked first if it's ok to pick them or is this public land?   

    Not since privatisation!!! image

    Gardening in Central Norfolk on improved gritty moraine over chalk ... free-draining.

  • TootlesTootles Posts: 1,469

    Hi Zoomer

    Yes. Stayed at a holiday cottage in rural Wales last week and there was a lovely book on foraging; what is safe to eat with pictures, and also ideas for things to make from bits and bobs you can collect on a typical country walk. It also showed things you can eat that grow wildly in urban areas.  

    Some of the responses have got me thinking though; for example, with your blackberries. When does the overgrowth into your plot become trespass on the part of BR?  

    We have some overhanging elderflower from a field. Is it ok for me to pick it? Was hoping to have a go at elderflower cordial this year. I prune it back most years as if I didn't it would have covered my greenhouse roof by now. 

    Of course, stealing flowers from someone's garden is terrible, and this just reminds me that all land belongs to someone so maybe foraging is more hassle than it's worth. Can't imagine writing to the land registry for the sake of some wild garlic!




Sign In or Register to comment.