In our efforts to obtain native plants, including native wildflowers, regulations need to be followed to avoid the "wrath of Caesar." Not only is there regulation against international trading in endangered floral species (CITES), but there are restrictions at the national level as well. Restrictions on what plants may be sold internationally will also affect the harvesting of such plants within this country.
The United States Department of Agriculture references examples¹ in which the federal government disallows the harvesting of certain native wildflowers off public lands. The legislation involved is called The Endangered Species Act of 1973.² National Parks do more than frown on the practice-fines can be steep. In fact, criminal penalties may include imprisonment. In addition to restrictions at the federal level, there are often state endangered species regulations. What can an enthusiast do to obtain native wildflowers for his native plantings, rock garden or surrounding woods?
Obtaining Native Wildflowers from Private Land
Due to the nature of evolving governmental laws, plants and animals are treated differently in the regulations. Endangered animals may not be harvested off private lands, as well as public. Plants are only protected on public lands, as plants are considered part of the land and thus come under the direction of the owner. One may obtain native wildflower species from the private lands of family, friends, and in fact, anyone that is willing to bestow the privilege.
By Their Fruits You Will Know Them
Wildflowers produce fruits-seeds. Seeds produce plants. Obtain the seeds that fall from the plants, and you can grow the plants. Still, there is a catch-a sizable percentage of wildflower varieties may require specific temperature cycling, soil types, and growing conditions. Unlike most cultivated plants, germination values may fall well below the 100-percent mark. There is a better way to obtain wildflowers than from cultivating seed.
While partisan organizations abound, many wildflower organizations are conceived by those who love native plants and wish to see them appreciated by others. One of the activities of such organizations is generally the raising and sale of specific wildflower varieties, which are then sold publicly. Why not consider buying wildflowers from such legitimate sources. One example of such an organization is the Virginia Native Plant Society. Such wildflowers are raised "in captivity" by private individuals, generally on their own private property. It is the safe, legal way to obtain the native plants you desire for your garden or woodsy area. If you can't find one online, check with your local information center or library. You may even choose join for additional member benefits, such as scheduled hikes and reduced plant costs.