Wildflowers & The Law

I was about to enjoy some self-righteous indignation, calling out a few people for breaking the law by picking wildflowers in Texas. Being the person I am, I wanted to cite the actual law.

O tempora! O mores!

It is not illegal to pick wildflowers in Texas. I’ve always been told it was, but it seems those doing the telling were either lying or misinformed.

The Texas Department of Public Safety lays it out for you. Picking the flowers isn’t illegal, but:

  • Trespassing on private property (to pick flowers or do anything else) is illegal, so don’t do that.
  • Many traffic laws exist that could create problems when you pull over on the freeway to snap photos.
  • There are laws against destroying public property and messing up the right-of-way, and picking enough flowers could put you across the line into those areas.
  • You could get chewed up by fire ants or bitten by snakes in the grass, so there’s that karmic punishment to consider.

DPS reminds you that wildflowers grow each year because they are allowed to re-seed, so you shouldn’t be a chump and spoil it for everyone else by picking them, but you’re not prohibited by law from doing so on a minor scale. They don’t say don’t be a chump, but they’re trying to be nice.

Given our human race’s staggering inability to share natural resources in a respectful way that demonstrates our willingness to sacrifice for the common good, I think we should make it illegal to pick wildflowers. Maybe this is my knee-jerk reaction. What do you think?

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7 Responses to Wildflowers & The Law

  1. Bill Shirley says:

    If you’ve ever tried to eradicate a certain type of flower from your spring lawn by picking them all as soon as they appear, you know that Mother Nature always finds a way.

  2. $10 Idea Man says:

    Ooh, also someone needs to start the StopingTheScenery.com with bucolic photos of people in fields of wildflowers.

  3. Artemis says:

    I have never noticed any impact on the vast quantities of wildflowers along our roadsides in TX from people picking them. The lushness of the displays varies directly with the rains, and that’s it. Billions of seeds out there; we’re not going to miss a few thousand.

    Furthermore, what happens when a 2-year-old breaks the law? Should the parents have to hover over their small children every second they’re enjoying the wildflowers, to make sure they don’t pick one? Out of billions?

    If you want to pass or amend laws, how about making it illegal for HOAs to force homeowners to mow wildflowers or otherwise dismantle native landscaping?

    • It is dreadful when you read about HOAs opposing native landscaping – I would offer incentives of every kind to promote native landscaping, especially low-water in areas where droughts are a problem (which seems to be just about everywhere).

      This post was more about my surprise that it wasn’t illegal, as we’d always been told growing up. Funny how once you’ve internalized that something is wrong, it can be hard to shift to thinking it is OK, even if you rationally know it is.

      I don’t think anyone would miss a bluebonnet plucked by a 2-year-old. I would worry about someone coming along and wiping out an entire embankment to cart them back to their private land or retail development. That seems highly unlikely, I realize, but it is also unlikely to imagine that a homeowner’s association would sue a widow for having a stained glass window installed, and yet, that happens.

      But true, drought is the bigger threat for sure. I probably still won’t ever pick wildflowers, because old habits die hard, but I wouldn’t jail the 2-year-olds. The 8-year-olds though … 😉

  4. Dawn Morrill says:

    I have a question re wildflowers on private property. We own two one acre lots on a residential street, in a suburban/country town of one acre lots. We have our house on one lot and have cultivated a wildflower meadow on the other. This lot has always been a meadow, we bought it from the neighbor who originally owned it, with the intent to continue the beautiful meadow (we’re at the end of a cul de sac, and the back of the lots share a boundary with a horse farm) Over the past 17 YEARS we have added seeds of different varieties and have been rewarded with beautiful displays of bluebonnets, paintbrush, Indian blanket, thistle, etc until everything goes to seed and we mow around July 4th. I came home today (May 7th) to find a letter from the City that they now consider our meadow to be a WEED PATCH and are demanding that we mow or be fined! Are there any legal protections for our meadow??

    • I’m sorry that I can’t provide legal advice about this. If you don’t have a mandatory HOA, then the first level of government I’d check with is the city to see if someone else might overrule the decision. It might also be that a neighbor complained – I’ve seen people put up signs explaining why a wildflower patch looks scraggly and won’t be mowed until it goes to seed.

      • Dawn Morrill says:

        Thanks for your reply, I had put in a call to the code compliance officer who sent out the letter (no response so far), but a neighbor was able to attend the city council meeting last night and lobbied on my behalf re the joy of having wildflowers on private property. The council said they “would review it”. We shall see . . .

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