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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 Central Norfolk UKPosts: 79,298

    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 . 



    “I am not lost, for I know where I am. But however, where I am may be lost.” Winnie the Pooh

  • 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.

  • pansyfacepansyface PEAK DISTRICT DerbyshirePosts: 20,544

    I am no longer amazed to see people walking past my house and picking bunches of daffodils and snowdrops from the verge outside. The Easter Bunny puts them there for people to take, obviously, and it would be rude not to accept the offer.image

    Apophthegm -  a big word for a small thought.
  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 79,298

    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


    “I am not lost, for I know where I am. But however, where I am may be lost.” Winnie the Pooh

  • pansyfacepansyface PEAK DISTRICT DerbyshirePosts: 20,544

    imageA lesson in how to run faster,  Verdun.

    Apophthegm -  a big word for a small thought.
  • Zoomer44Zoomer44 Posts: 3,264

    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?   

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