Wild plants: sell them legally

Find out which plants are banned from sale, which need a licence and how to get a licence.

You must follow the rules explained in this guide if you want to sell wild plants in England.

Wild plants are any plant which is or was growing wild before it was taken and which ordinarily grows wild in Great Britain. This includes parts of wild plants like seeds and bulbs, but excludes plants grown in gardens or commercially cultivated.

If you want to import or export wild plants or seeds into or out of the UK you should read the guidance on importing and exporting endangered species and in plant health controls.

This guide does not apply to selling or using species listed on CITES commercially, for example charging a fee for showing them. CITES is the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.

Sell wild plants

Plants banned from sale

You must not sell, advertise for sale or keep for the purposes of selling any of the following invasive non-native aquatic plants:

  • water fern (Azolla filiculoides)
  • parrot’s feather (Myriophyllum aquaticum)
  • floating water pennywort (Hydrocotyle ranunculoides)
  • water primrose (Ludwigia grandiflora)
  • Australian swamp stonecrop, also known as New Zealand Pygmy weed (Crassula helmsii, also sold as Tilia)

You could be prosecuted and have to pay a fine of up to £5,000 if you commit any of these offences.

Plants you need a licence to sell

You need a licence to sell plants that are listed on:

  • schedule 8 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act and taken after 30 October 1981
  • Annex IV b of the EU Habitats Directive and taken after June 1994 - this includes plants known as European protected species (EPS)

The following plants are EPS:

  • creeping marshwort (Apium repens)
  • early gentian (Gentianella anglica)
  • fen orchid (Liparis loeselii)
  • floating water-plantain (Luronium natans)
  • Killarney fern (Trichomanes speciosum)
  • lady’s slipper (Cypripedium calceolus)
  • marsh saxifrage (Saxifrage hirulus)
  • shore dock (Rumex rupestris)
  • slender naiad (Najas flexilis)

You also need a licence if the plant is an EPS and was taken after 30 October 1981.

You could be prosecuted or have to pay a fine of up to £5,000 if you sell a wild plant without a licence.

Plants you do not need a licence to sell

With the exception of EPS, you do not need a licence to sell plants which are listed on Annex IV(b) if they’re any of the following:

  • grown in captivity
  • taken from the wild outside the EC
  • lawfully taken from the wild before 10 June 1994

Get a licence

Apply for a licence to sell plants.

Label plants for sale

You must make sure that all packaging and labelling is clear about the species and the source of the plant. You could be breaking the law if your information is misleading in any way.

You should always use the correct Latin name as well as the common name of the plant to avoid confusion.

Keep wild plants

You do not need a licence to keep a wild plant unless you intend to sell it and it’s listed on either of the following:

  • schedule 8 of the WCA
  • Annex IV(b)

You need to be able to prove if asked that you own your plant legally. You should keep evidence of the origin of the plant to show you own it legally. This does not include plants that are growing wild on your land.

Published 28 May 2015