skip to main content

Protected species - plants and fungi

What are they?

There are around 2,000 flowering plant species, 12,000 different fungi , 1,500 lichens and 1,000 species of moss and liverworts in Scotland - that's a lot of different species, and that's not even including some groups like algae!

How are they protected?

All wild plant 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 that Act by being listed on Schedule 8  PDF document .  A small number are classified as European protected species under the Conservation (Natural Habitats, &c.) Regulations 1994 (as amended).

For a definitive list of protected plant and fungi species and the protection afforded to them you should consult our full list of protected species in Scotland.  PDF document


The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended) makes it an offence to intentionally or recklessly uproot any wild plant if you do not have permission from the owner or occupier of the piece of land in question. 

It is an offence to intentionally or recklessly pick, uproot or destroy any wild plant (or its seeds or spores) listed on Schedule 8  PDF document  of the Act.  It is also an offence to sell, offer, advertise or possess for sale live or dead plants listed on Schedule 8 of the Act.

Some species, such as the bluebell are listed on Schedule 8, but only receive partial protection under this schedule.  This means that while it isn't an offence to pick bluebells, it is an offence to sell them, advertise for sale etc.

Killarney fern, slender naiad, floating leaved water plantain, and yellow marsh saxifrage are all listed as European protected species of plant. This makes it an offence to:

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

Licensing and plants

Licences are available to allow specified people to carry out actions that could otherwise constitute an offence.  As with any protected species, licences can only be issued for specific purposes that are set out in the legislation.  If you are planning any activities that could affect protected species or the places they use, you should make sure that you stay within the law.

If you are proposing to undertake an action that might otherwise constitute an offence, you may need a licence and should refer to our licensing and plants and fungi pages.



*Please Note* The summary of legislation and list of offences on this page are not comprehensive, and is intended for use as a guide only. For a definitive list of offences you should consult the actual legislation. It is also important to note that this is the law in Scotland, elsewhere in the UK the legislation may differ.

Last updated on Friday 19th February 2016 at 11:08 AM. Click here to comment on this page