Is winterberry protected by law or not?
This page sponsored by:
The best I could find on-line sounded like it was protected
from rapacious harvesting and benefitting monetarily from selling
it. I also understood that you may cut as much of your own growing
winterberry as you want. Can you help us get through this
muddle on the winterberry fact or fiction? - T.K. -
You have it right if you're in Michigan. You're on the right
track in most other places. And then there are the common
sense rules our Mentors' gave us that say to respect others'
You can cut all you want of winterberry (Ilex
verticillata, also known as Michigan holly) on your own
property, and probably you can cut from others' plants if you have
(written) permission to cut. But in any other place or situation,
if you are tempted to cut, check
first. As you say, these are means to prevent rapacious
• Michigan's Christmas Greens act prohibits
harvesting of plant matter from public lands and requires you to
show written permission to do so on private property not your
• In Washington State, cutting on public land is
regulated and when the State determines an area can be harvested
for evergreen boughs, it auctions the cutting rights.
• In Montana, rules vary by area. For instance, when you inquire
in the Flathead National Forest office you may receive a guide that explains, for evergreen boughs,
that "No permit or fee required for up to 100 lbs. green weight
(except for Pacific Yew which has a 50 lb limit). Amounts greater
than 100 lbs (or 50 lbs. for Pacific Yew) requires a commercial-use
So where we took winterberry's picture for issue #164, along a
highway on property of unknown ownership, we could admire it but
not cut it.
Of course other laws, including endangered species acts, protect some plants to the extent that
a person is in violation if he/she molests the plant even on his/her
own property. Winterberry is on Iowa's endangered list, and
Arkansas' threatened list.
You can get information about
protection status for any native plant from the USDA's plant
database. Enter the plant name and then scroll on its profile
page to "Threatened and Endangered Information."
Stupidity or Gall?
Ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) root has proven medical
use, is in great demand, and is difficult to grow outside the wild.
It's been clear for over a hundred years that careful management is required to keep people
from digging this plant to extinction.
Michigan and Maine are two States that prohibit cutting or
digging the plant in the wild and require sellers to have proof
their plants were artificially cultivated. Federal land use
agencies and other public land management bureaus monitor wild
ginseng traffic, and grant permits to harvest ginseng in certain
seasons and places. Permits require those who harvest to follow
conservation measures such as sowing fresh seed at the time and
place mature plants are removed.
Illegal ginseng digging is prosecuted every year. Diggers commonly claim
ignorance of laws even while in possession of hundreds of roots and
well aware of their great economic value.