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Fruit, flowers, foliage and fungi – fair game, or off limits?

Matthew Chatfield
Latest posts by Matthew Chatfield (see all)

It’s a little known but reassuringly archaic fact that under English common law you can normally pick the “Four F’s” if growing wild – fruit, fungi, flowers and foliage, for non-commercial use, anywhere where you can legally go.

A basket of field mushrooms (credit: Colin Pope)

It’s a nice law, and the Ranger thinks it a proper law – after all, the picking of such things is pleasant, and encourages people to enjoy their environment and remember where things come from. But can you imagine the chances of introducing such a right now, if it didn’t already exist? The braying of defiance from landowners would be almost equalled by the massed reedy whines of the environmentalists – until both were brushed aside by the behemoth of public health and safety. Surely we could not permit people – perhaps even children – to just go up to things in the countryside and pick them? Maybe even to eat them! What if the fruit were dirty? Diseased? Infected? Poisonous? A filthy, unclean, unwholesome thing from the earth? Who could be sued if a child were hurt? Who would take the blame? Better perhaps that we take our fun in digital form, and our nutrition from clean, packaged fare safely obtained from a reputable retailer.

Matthew Chatfield

Uncooperative crusty. Unofficial Isle of Wight cultural ambassador. Conservation, countryside and the environment, with extra stuff about spiders.

2 thoughts on “Fruit, flowers, foliage and fungi – fair game, or off limits?

  • Dental Lake Werth

    There are some fungi that is safe to eat. Maybe we should educate our kids about this fungi thing and for them to know what they should do if they saw some.

  • crunchy_with_ketchup

    Ah, so all those nice Dafs in the park are mine for the picking? Fab. The wife loves them, and moneys tight with the credit crunch n all.

    The Ranger responds: you spotted my omission, well done. This only applies to things growing wild. I’ve corrected the post. Now leave those daffs alone!!


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