About Roadside Plants
Many people enjoy our many wildflowers and other plants growing along our roadways. Some occur naturally and some have been planted. Some people want to take these plants home to their gardens. This raises both legal issues and ethical issues. KNPS does NOT advocate digging plants from roadsides or from any native habitat.
Legality of Digging Roadside Plants
It is illegal to dig plants from roadsides. Clay Adams, District 1 Engineer for KDOT explains, “The Secretary of Transportation has jurisdiction over the state highway right of way. No one is allowed to do anything on the right of way with out the permission of the Secretary. This is normally handled with a Use of Right of Way permit from the District office. We have not, and would not allow this type of activity by the public.”
Ethics of Digging Roadside Plants
Most people try to transplant plants when they are blooming. This is the most stressful time for a plant, and usually guarantees failure. Furthermore many of our prairie plants have deep roots and it’s difficult to get but a small part of the root when transplanting. By trying to dig plants from the wild, the plant is eliminated from its habitat. There are much better alternatives to digging plants from roadsides.
Alternatives to Digging Roadside Plants
A better alternative is to purchase plants or seeds from a nursery. If there is a plant you want in your garden, study the plant. Learn what conditions it needs to thrive in. Make sure your yard meets those conditions, and you should meet with success. See our Resources for information on landscaping with native plants. Included is a list of commercial resources of seeds and plants.
Collecting seeds is another option. Seed must be mature. Do not overcollect seed. A few seed "heads" can have hundreds if not thousands of seeds. That should be enough for a garden. Do your research on collecting seeds. Our Recommended Books lists restoration guides that have good information on collecting seed.