Is it ok to gather seeds from a botonical garden

paulan70(5)July 3, 2007

I was just wondering if it was ok to snatch/gather seeds from a walk thru of a botonical garden or is it illegal. In other words if I get caught would I be in trouble. Thanks

The botonically garden would be in South Carolina. Thanks


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The bontanic garden here has a rule about "no collecting" which I think pretty muchcovers that. Do they have asign?

    Bookmark   July 3, 2007 at 4:38PM
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No, it's not okay and the majority of places will alert you to that fact. Botanical gardens, aside from providing enjoyment to the public, maintain their collections for education, research, and conservation and not for people to go through with their little nippers and baggies. Could/should be fined for stealing or destruction of property and escorted off the premises.

Sorry for the rant, but I have a low tolerance for thinking any place is fair game for seed snatching.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2007 at 12:54AM
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zeedman Zone 5 Wisconsin

I find myself in complete agreement with Duluthinbloom. Botanical gardens are generally, to at least some extent, preservation projects... and as a preservationist myself, I understand the value of their work. Some of the plants may only be there because they are endangered, and the very purpose in growing them might be to produce seed or stock.

If you are a serious gardener, a simple request may get you the seed or stock that interests you. But as my DD grandmother told me, "don't ask if you can't accept 'no'". If the seed is rare, they might wish to save it for those with the skill to propagate it successfully. To then take the seed anyway could be to push it further toward extinction, and is unconscionable.

Put yourself in their shoes. Would you want neighbors & friends snatching at will from your garden? If you found a hole in the garden where a treasured heirloom used to be, would you be OK with that? You are allowed to tour the botanical garden in good faith... don't betray that trust.


    Bookmark   July 16, 2007 at 5:20PM
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I beg to differ. Of course it would not be right to take the seeds of a rare plant that may or may not be raised for the purpose of providing more seed. However, if you have a big bed of, say snapdragons, and the seeds are blowing away in the wind, you are not going to convince me that it is wrong to rescue a few. I never go to a botanical garden without a ziploc bag in my pocket. So arrest me!!!!!!!

    Bookmark   July 18, 2007 at 7:52AM
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I don't want to get into a test of wills here because there will always be two camps on this topic. I doubt that snapdragons gone to seed are what people are looking for in arboretums. Any activity can be justified in some manner; just review some of the old threads here on seed snatching and the general rounds of applause for the "cute" anecdotes of using kids as look outs, or pinching plants you have no intention of purchasing at garden centers, etc. If you really think it's right and okay, why is it generally done surreptitiously?

    Bookmark   July 18, 2007 at 12:27PM
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Being a botanical garden member, my answer is no. It is stealing. Just because there are a lot of seeds does not justify taking them. And how could you possibly draw the line between what is an acceptable plant to take seeds from and which are not? Let me go to your house and start taking stuff because I think you have too much and couldn't possibly use it all. Imagine having hundreds of people who feel it is ok and take what they want. Pretty soon there are no seeds. Also, how do you know someone at the garden is not planning to save seeds of that particular plant. Unfortunately so many people think they can do whatever they want or have an everyone else is doing it attitude.
It is just like the koi ponds in botanical garden. There are easy to read signs stating do not throw coins in, but people do. It is not good for the fish. I know the poor lady who has to go retrieve all those coins. I saw a lady who was going to give her kid coins to throw in even after her child read the sign. She still thought it was ok because other coins were in there! I gave her a good stare, and she didn't do it.
Also, my botanical garden has a large plant sale(with great prices!) and also rare plant auction every spring, so it is possible to get plants you want the legal way.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2007 at 12:32PM
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zeedman Zone 5 Wisconsin

"...Of course it would not be right to take the seeds of a rare plant that may or may not be raised for the purpose of providing more seed."

Of course, if you are stealing, you are not asking... so how would you know the difference? Or would you really care?

"I never go to a botanical garden without a ziploc bag in my pocket."

Nor do I. I am also a member of the Seed Savers Exchange, and spend a weekend each year touring their growout, looking for promising vegetable cultivars. As I walk the rows, I take notes, including locations of any that interest me. I do _not_ steal seeds as I go.

When my tour & list are completed, I talk to the staff. There are always varieties I am allowed to take seed or cuttings from; but others are reserved strictly for replenishing seed stocks, due to limited quantities. I thank them for the seed they can spare, which I then go out & collect as per their instructions. As for those I am not allowed to take... I let the staff know I am interested, and wait for them to become available in the future.

Botanical gardens are no different. Some of what they grow is for the display gardens & plant sales that support the organization - hence the beds of snapdragons "blowing in the wind". But other plants are grown for more important purposes, which you might sabotage by removing material without permission. Unfortunately, the rarest of the rare seem to be the plants the "snatchers" often go for.

If there is plenty of seed or stock available, an inquiry or a small donation might get you all that you desire. Even for plants in short supply, once you convince them that you will propagate & share anything they give you (and have the skills to do so) they generally offer seed freely, and perhaps a little stock. But sometimes they won't part with something you really want... be an adult, and accept it.

The point is, always _ask_. I will never understand the mentality of those who feel entitled to take what they wish from another's property, or who think stealing is "cute". All the more disappointing, given that such attitudes run counter to the nurturing, sharing nature of our hobby.

Yes, there will always be two camps on this issue; those that respect the rights of others - and those that don't. A thief is a thief.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2007 at 5:24PM
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Well like I said, Arrest me......after you come down from your high horse.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2007 at 10:22PM
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I asked a gardener at my botanical gardens for a response to this thread. Here is the response they sent me:

We are a bit more unusual- our small size makes us able to offer brief
one on one discussions with gardeners, whereas I find other botanical
gardens do not list gardeners' emails, nor do they call a gardener to
discuss a matter with a visitor if that visitor has a question. In
that way, we are a bit more personal, and a bit more one on one with
our visitors.

Our policy is that anyone visiting the gardens is welcome to cuttings
or seeds of any plant as long as they ask, a gardener gives
permission, and a gardener does the cuttings. This may not apply to
other gardens because they may not have gardeners to ask in the first

So, to make a long story short, I do not see taking seeds from
botanical gardens as stealing, I just see it as being downright rude.
If you really want something and you try hard enough, you will find
someone to ask, and the person that you ask should give freely of
plants and plant parts so long as they are not being utilized for any
other purpose.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2007 at 7:04PM
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Well, as I was reading down through this, my thought was if you really want to know "ask". Of course, remy's email seems to concur. If they don't want you to have it, they'll tell you so. You may get lucky and be allowed to leave with the seeds, and then would not have to worry about being sneaky, or have a guilty conscience. I'm sure they have been asked before, and don't think they would chastise you for asking. All they can do is say no.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2007 at 10:03AM
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i feel that if you snatch it from someones yard or a botanical garden then its stealing. you should ask. i would be so very offended and pissed if someone stole from me, but on the other hand if someone came up and asked for a clipping or some of my seeds, 9 x's out of 10 they'll leave with an arm full. i'm sooo not kidding. i LOVE to share!! that's MY thing!! almost anyone could tell you this. but stealing is UNFORGIVABLE in my book!! imho Medo

    Bookmark   April 29, 2008 at 9:30PM
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jqpublic(7b/8a Wake County NC)

Wow Paula never showed her face again did she? hehe

    Bookmark   May 5, 2008 at 11:43PM
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No I am still here I never got the chance to visit the bot. garden on our visit so it was a moot point. And besides it was just a question. I am not here in the seed saving forum very often.


    Bookmark   May 16, 2008 at 9:44PM
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nick_b79(4/5 Southeast MN)

It would be best to ask permission first. At the state arboretum here, all it took was a phone call to the arboretum director, and a week later I received a permit to collect seeds in the mail. Of course, none of the species I wanted to collect were rare or valuable, so that might make a difference.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2008 at 2:57AM
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rosebush(z7 NC)

Have seen similar threads on other forums, but as I was browsing this one, just had to put my 2 cents in. . .
I agree with Medo; if someone asks me for something from my garden, I am only too happy to share in a big way. But if someone were to just snatch something from my garden, then I would consider it the height of arrogance, rudeness, and it would totally tick me off. I would consider it stealing.
All this to say, isn't it just better to ask? All they can do is say no, but the flip side is you might leave with more treasures than you could have pilfered without asking.

    Bookmark   June 4, 2008 at 2:48PM
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