Two people were arrested for allegedly harvesting saw palmetto berries.
According to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, as of last July, a permit is required to harvest the berries in Florida.
The two were harvesting the berries after midnight on Friday in the vicinity of the Baseline Trailhead Park when they were seen as the MCSO helicopter happened to be in the area.
Those on the helicopter then radioed to a deputy who tracked down the man and woman, later identified as Elizabeth Merson, 32, and Frederick Allen Graff, 45.
The two were booked into the Marion County jail on misdemeanor charges.
What are the new requirements for a contract harvester of palmetto berries on public or private land?
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
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
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.