Some of us here at Placer Land Trust were reminiscing about the days when, as children, we wandered through meadows chasing after butterflies, singing to ladybugs, and letting caterpillars tickle our toes. We’d be all blissed out on sunshine and the sweet scent of wildflowers, until the moment when we reached to pluck one of hundreds of bright, orange, California poppies freckling the field, and suddenly, out of nowhere, a grown-up would shout, “DON’T PICK THE POPPIES! IT’S ILLEGAL! YOU’LL BE FINED A MILLION DOLLARS AND THROWN IN JAIL!” thereby totally harshing our mellow.
Maybe this happened to you, too? Well, it turns out California children are not alone. In Texas, kids are told not to pick the blue bonnets, in New Hampshire it’s the lady slippers, and in Ontario it’s the trillium.
Now I can’t speak for those other places, but in California at least, it’s all a bunch of poppycock. OK, it’s not all poppycock, but I had to go for the pun. Here’s the real deal: It’s illegal to pick pretty much anything if it’s on a state or county highway, public land, or private land not owned by the person doing the picking. Those who don’t follow these rules could be fined up to $1,000 and receive jail time. It is fine to pick anything, including poppies, from land that you own and even private land if you have written permission from the owner, according to California Penal Code 384a (not to be confused with 384(a) which states that a Chatty Cathy must hang up a party line during an emergency. Somehow I don’t think they’re talking about the mobile app).
The gist of the poppy question is this: There is no law specifically forbidding the picking of poppies, so If the poppies are on your very own personal land, have at them– although, they are said to fair better in the ground than in a vase. We at Placer Land Trust don’t mind if you pick a few poppies on our preserves, but if you feel so inclined, we sure would appreciate a donation so that we may continue fill our preserves with poppies, as well as the other native flowers and plants that the native pollinators love so much.