View Full Version : Harvesting of Flora

05-04-2010, 02:01 PM
Does anyone know the regulations on harvesting flora for personal consumption in the national forests? Specifically ramps, branch lettuce, & morels.

I'm thinking its frowned upon and(or) illegal, although I have eaten ramps at camp and taken morels home.

I've looked on the FS website, but I can't find anything. I'm doing a weekend in the mountains towards the end of ramp season (soon), and I'd like to know what the official rules & regs are. I've got a new pan fried trout n ramps recipie I want to try.

05-04-2010, 02:31 PM
Hate to say it, but to the best of my knowledge it is illegal to harvest anything you mentioned within park bounderies. The Park Service has even begun to inject dye into some plants so that if a person is found with them in their possession the dye can be used as evidence for prosecution. I think they used to allow ramps to be harvested, but a recent article in one of the park newsletters mentioned that they are no longer, due to over harvesting.


PS: Might do a search on the GSMNP website for specifics

Here is a statement included at their site related to back country camping

11. All plants, wildlife, and natural and historic features are protected by law. Do not carve, deface, or cut any trees or shrubs.

05-04-2010, 02:34 PM
I've looked this up a couple years ago, so my info my be outdated, or I've gotten some things mixed up, but here's what I remember. **Harvesting of ramps is illegal**. Morels and so forth can be harvested if they are located 500' from any trail, manway, structure, and it doesn't effect the integrity of the natural ecosystem. Basically, if morels are growing where they can be viewed by tourists, you have to leave them alone. If you are off trail, have at it. I've gone back and tried to find where I saw this, but can only find where harvesting ramps is illegal, and I can't find what is legal to harvest.

05-04-2010, 02:34 PM
I do know that to harvest ginseing and other herbs along with shrubbery and firewood you have to get a permit for the compartment that you are harvesting. I would stop by a local forest service office and ask them, but if you are just getting a handful or two there may not be a problem. This applies to the National Forest as Grannyknot was asking. In the GSMP berries for personal consumtion are okay and I am pretty sure that morels are good also. Ramps, ginseing and any flower or shrub will get you in trouble. I know for a fact that ginseing plants are injected with a tracking dye in certain parts of the park.:rolleyes:

05-04-2010, 02:43 PM
Just an addendum to my question....I am referring solely to the rules & regulation within the Cherokee & Nantahala National Forests, not the national park.

05-04-2010, 03:33 PM
It pays to fully read a post before replying.

Same disclaimer as before, but if I remember right, nuts berries and fruit may be harvested for personal consumption without a permit. You need a permit to harvest ginseng, mushrooms, anything else wether it is for personal harvest or commercial use. Best bet is to call the district office.

05-04-2010, 09:24 PM
Where can I apply for the job of ginseng injector? Sounds like an exciting career opportunity ;).

You know most people would be shocked to learn that I participate in one of the only activities in the national park where you are allowed to come in physical contact with wildlife, handle it, admire it, even kill and eat it in some cases. Yep fly fishing is great...

05-05-2010, 08:40 AM
After several hours of searching last night I found that it has been illegal to harvest ramps in The park since 2002, and as of 2006, you have to obtain a permit to harvest ramps in the national forest.

I couldn't find any details on the permit, so I'll stop by the district office on my way through.

I didn't find anything specific about morels or branch lettuce in the park or national forest.

05-05-2010, 08:45 AM
I did some volunteer work with the NPS and we found morels and took them home she said it was legal to take morels in the park I have no clue as to the laws in the National Forests call that ranger district office and ask.