Locked-down Brits could face fines for picking wildflowers on daily walk

Thursday, 7th May 2020, 12:39 pm
Updated Thursday, 7th May 2020, 12:39 pm

Locked-down Brits taking their government approved daily walk have been warned not to pick wildflowers on their route, as doing so could result in imprisonment or an eye-watering £5,000 fine.

Plant experts from online garden centre GardeningExpress.co.uk have reminded households of the laws regarding picking daffodils and bluebells from forbidden areas this spring.

The legislation largely falls under two categories – that which is part of the Wildlife and Countryside Act of 1981 and the Theft Act of 1968.

This means flowers growing in council parks are legally off-limits, and the same goes for council-maintained displays on roundabouts, verges, nature reserves or protected land.

You should not pick flowers off private land either, otherwise you’d be breaking the 1968 Theft Act.

If fruit, foliage, fungi or flowers are growing wild and are to be picked for your personal use only, it’s not normally an offence to do so.

Dozens of rare or endangered plants are, however, protected under the 1981 Wildlife and Countryside Act. Pick any of these and you could face arrest, up to six months imprisonment and a maximum £5,000 fine.

Even if you’re legally permitted to pick certain wildflowers, you should never uproot them to be re-planted unless you have explicit permission to do so.You should also only pick one flower for every 20 in the patch. If there are fewer than 20, leave them be.

The Countryside Code was introduced in 2004 to encourage people to enjoy the countryside responsibly and outlines that people should protect the natural environment by taking care not to damage, destroy or remove features such as rocks, trees and plants.

Chris Bonnett from GardeningExpress.co.uk said: “Brits are permitted to take one walk or form of exercise outdoors per day at the moment – but make sure you’re not tempted to pick any wildflowers whilst you’re at it.

“All wild plants are given some sort of protection under the laws of the UK and the Republic of Ireland, making it illegal to uproot or pick a large majority.

“And if any rare or endangered plants are growing near your home, you could face arrest, up to six months imprisonment and a maximum £5,000 fine for picking them.

“You are allowed to pick flowers which are not privately owned or critically endangered – but only one in every twenty, and only from patches where there are lots of flowers, so you leave plenty for others to enjoy.

“You should also leave a substantial amount of the plant to allow it to continue to grow.

“Don’t ever pick flowers in public parks, community gardens, or on National Trust property or nature reserves.

“This includes flowers from roundabouts, which are maintained by councils.“Intentionally picking, uprooting or destroying a plant without permission from the landowner or occupier is an offence, and you should never pick any flower found in the Schedule 8 list of protected plants.

“Also take care not to disturb any wildlife with an area.”