FWC: Picking saw palmetto berries could get you arrested

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saw palmetto berries, ocala news, ocala post
saw palmetto berries

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission wants to remind everyone that as the berries come to fruit to follow the laws of Florida.

According to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, as of July 2018, a permit is required to harvest saw palmetto berries in Florida.

In 2019, Ocala Post reported on two Marion County residents who were illegally harvesting the berries and arrested by the Marion County Sheriff’s Office. The two were harvesting the berries after midnight on a Friday in the vicinity of the Baseline Trailhead Park when they were spotted as the MCSO helicopter happened to be in the area.

What are the new requirements for a contract harvester of palmetto berries on public or private land?

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  • The contract harvester must possess written permission from the landowner or the legal representative prior to harvest
  • The contract harvester must also possess a Native Plant Harvesting Permit from the Department prior to harvest.
  • The permit application must be submitted fourteen (14) days prior to the intended date of harvest.

What are the new requirements for any person transporting for sale, selling, or offering for sale saw palmetto berries?

  • A person transporting for sale, selling, or offering for sale saw palmetto berries, which is harvested from the person’s own property, must possess a Native Plant Harvesting Permit from the Department.
  • The permit application must be submitted fourteen (14) days prior to the intended date of harvest.

What enforcement action can be taken if these requirements are not followed?

If found by law enforcement officials to not meet the requirements above, the harvester or person transporting for sale, selling, or offering for sale saw palmetto berries may be charged with a misdemeanor. The illegally harvested berries will be confiscated and returned to the owner. If the owner cannot be located, the berries will be destroyed.

According to officials, saw palmetto is a supplement made from the fruit of the Serenoa repens tree, which is commercially exploited.

It’s often used to treat enlarged prostate, improve urinary function, and enhance hair growth. Some also use the supplement to boost libido and fertility and reduce inflammation. Additionally, saw palmetto is claimed to have anti-cancer effects.

Allegedly, Native Americans have long used the berry for its nutritional, sedative, diuretic, aphrodisiac, and cough-reducing properties.