Guidelines for responsible wildcrafting;
or, how to use natural materials without wrecking nature:

  • always ask for permission before collecting on property that you don’t own, including public land;
  • don’t harvest everything!  Leave more than enough to allow the population to reproduce, to provide resources for the ecological community, and to avoid harm to the organism. Never take more than 25% of what you find and don’t focus in one place. Don’t take more than you need;
  • know your plants – don’t gather the wrong thing;
  • know the conservation status — don’t gather rare things;
  • know what parts to harvest, when to harvest (for beneficial use and for health of the plant) and how to do it (e.g. oak galls from wasps);
  • some places to avoid: don’t take anything from a stressed population or from a polluted area (including roadsides) and don’t harvest from the first patch you find, because it’s likely to be seen and harvested by more people;
  • give thanks;
  • leave the area better than you found it; e.g. pick up litter;
  • consider invasive species as sources, but harvest, use and dispose of them knowledgeably;
  • and, always consider the impact of your activity and ask what would happen if 5 more people did this today.

Resources for understanding plant distribution & conservation status

National invasive Species Information Center

USDA Plants Database

United Plant Savers