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Protected species: plants and fungi

In Scotland, all wild plants are protected from being uprooted without the landowner’s permission, and some species enjoy greater protection.

All wild plant and fungi species receive a level of protection under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended). Some more rare or vulnerable species are given added protection under Schedule 8 of the same Act.

Three Scottish plant species are European protected species:

  • Killarney fern
  • slender naiad
  • yellow marsh saxifrage

These species receive protection under the Conservation (Natural Habitats, &c.) Regulations 1994 (as amended).

Read the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 Schedule 8 – protected species of plants

You can see our summary of offences in relation to these protected species below. For the definitive list of offences, you should consult the actual legislation.

Discover more about Scotland’s:

Offences: all wild plants

It is an offence to intentionally or recklessly uproot any wild plant (which the 1981 Act defines as including fungi) without the permission of the owner or occupier of the land it grows on.

Offences: European protected species of plant

For European protected species of plant, it is an offence to:

  • intentionally or recklessly pick, collect, cut, uproot or destroy such a plant or anything derived from it
  • possess specimens or derivatives of plants
  • sell, exchange or offer for sale or exchange these plants or derivatives of them

Offences: Schedule 8 plant species

For any Schedule 8 plant and fungus species, it is an offence to:

  • intentionally or recklessly pick, uproot or destroy any wild plant or fungus (or its seeds or spores)
  • sell, offer for sale, possess or transport for the purpose of sale any living or dead plant or fungus

Partial protection of a species under Schedule 8 generally prohibits you from selling or advertising for sale any plant or fungus. But it isn’t an offence to pick such plants or fungi.

Offences: floating-leaved water plantain

Floating-leaved water plantain has been introduced to Scotland. As this species isn’t found naturally in Scotland, it doesn’t have European protected species status here. But, as an Annex IV species, it is protected in Scotland from possession, transport and sale.

Licensing

Licensing allows named individuals to carry out actions that could otherwise constitute an offence. If you’re planning any activities that could affect wild plants or the places they grow, you must make sure you stay within the law.

Find out about licensing for plants and fungi.

Learn more about licensing.

Find out more

Protected species known to occur naturally in Scotland and their protection