Legal to plant natives?

learn2turn(6)March 14, 2013

I ran into this document on Purple Milkweed (Asclepias purpurascens) in Massachusetts--

Since it's endangered in the state it says "All listed species are protected from killing, collecting, possessing, or sale and from activities that would destroy habitat and thus directly or indirectly cause mortality or disrupt critical behaviors."

I don't get how to interpret that. Would it be illegal to buy a $2 packet of seed and plant some on my property because it's illegal to "possess"? Or would that only apply to wild-collected plants?

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bostedo(8a tx-bp-dfw)

I'm not a lawyer, but bet you'd be okay in the very unlikely event some authority calls you out on it as long as you keep your receipts. Usually with these sorts of restrictions, being able to show the provenance was legal is good enough.

Of course, you'd still be at risk of ignorance or meanness. A Houston area landscaper was raided a few years back when a neighbor reported he was growing pot in his yard and the investigating cops couldn't properly identify it as hibiscus coccineus (Texas Star Hibiscus). It's a fairly common N.A. native ornamental well known to resemble marijuana, so they were either not very well trained or were already out for the guy for other reasons. Oh well.... it lives on as a good gardening story.

Here is a link that might be useful: Police mistake landscaper's hibiscus for pot

    Bookmark   March 14, 2013 at 6:00PM
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I have quite a few plants that fall into the similar dilemma, but I've never been too concerned with the legal issues. As long as you are buying from a nursery with credentials you should be fine. The seed they use is documented and therefore legal to grow.

It is this sort of language that government agencies need to fix! I understand that they want to protect the plants, but at the same time the language used does not encourage people to help fix the problems in our environment.

Here is a link that might be useful: Improved Ecosystems

    Bookmark   March 16, 2013 at 1:06AM
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terrene(5b MA)

The language is a little obtuse, but I think they're talking about wild native populations of the plant, which apparently only exist in western Mass now. Anyway, I live in Mass and have been attempting to grow A. purpurascens from seed for 5 years. The seed was originally from Prairie Moon Nursery, but I also got some from a poster on the butterfly forum who did a SASBE offer 2 years ago.

I've got a small population of Purple milkweed plants but haven't seen a single bloom yet. First of all, it takes about 3 years to bloom, and the past 2 years some dumb critter has nipped the tops off my 2 oldest plants which were forming buds! Probably a deer.

That Texas Hibiscus does kind of have foliage like Cannabis. Kind of doofy though, like the people who mistake Cleome for pot!

    Bookmark   March 18, 2013 at 9:05PM
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Thanks for the responses.

Good luck with the A. purpurascens Terrene. Post and update when you get it to bloom.

I have flats of about a half dozen species of seeds I got from PM outside vernalizing now. One is swamp milkweed as I live near wetland. Next winter's project may include A. purpurascens. I'm gradually replacing all the typical horticultural varieties on my property with natives.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2013 at 7:00AM
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In NC, I cannot share divisions or seeds of listed plants, even if the parent plant was obtained via a legal nursery. I need a permit to share, and I can never give away my "stock" plant. The laws were written with nurseries in mind, but individual private gardeners who are not selling still fall under the regulations. I have been trying to clarify and exempt private, non-commercial gardeners.

It has become very complicated, and most of my native plants friends have thrown up their hands in frustration. I think we are all now "criminals."

    Bookmark   March 24, 2013 at 9:59AM
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pamelagrace(7b Raleigh NC)

ncrescue..thank you for the info. I tried to be more involved with natives but now am a bit nervous. Never been arrested and too old to start now.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2013 at 9:03PM
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Suzi AKA DesertDance Zone 9b

Natives usually plant themselves...right where you don't want them!!

    Bookmark   March 26, 2013 at 11:32AM
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I talked to an expert in Massachusetts plants and learned that the warning in those documents doesn't really have any legal binding. It's just there to more or less scare people into not doing things injurious to native plants. There's nothing illegal about growing them on your own property from legal-obtained sources.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2013 at 10:09AM
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I can grow them; I just cannot share them...without a permit.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2013 at 7:51AM
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