Is Arnica-harvesting allowed? If so, subject to what conditions?

The harvesting of wild flowers and fruits is regulated in particular by the Civil Code, which prohibits any harvesting on others’ land. Land, a thatch or a forest always belong to someone, whether a private individual, a municipality or the State. Thus, as with mushrooms or blueberries, no foraging is allowed without the owner’s permission.

In practice, wild harvesting is generally tolerated, outside foraging areas, and must remain within “reasonable” removal volumes.

However, in the Hautes-Vosges, Arnica is the subject of a management agreement that organises harvesting because this area is the largest professional harvesting zone in France, and even in Europe. Within the framework of this organisation, it is provided that anyone wishing to harvest Arnica for family consumption should contact the owner municipalities to secure a harvesting permit. In the event of an inspection, permit-holders can thus show that they have complied with the protocol and are consequently spared any fines.

Notwithstanding, in 2020, given the very limited flowering of Arnica, particularly following the long spring drought, it is not considered reasonable practice to pick the flowers, which are few in number. When treated with care, the flowers can pollinate and sexually reproduce, and thus be maintained sustainably.