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Plant Industry - Plant Protection Section -
Plant Conservation Program

Protected Plant Permits/Certificates of Origin

North Carolina regulations specify that activities such as collecting, selling/trading, and purchasing protected plant species require a permit or certificate of origin issued by the NC Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services. The information below summarizes the regulations [02 NCAC 48F .0400] and operational procedures into a written description as well as a flowchart below to help you determine if your activities will require a protected plant permit/certificate of origin or not. If you have any questions, you may contact us directly at (919) 707-3758.

THIS PROGRAM DOES NOT ISSUE PERMITS FOR GINSENG HARVEST. THOSE INTENDING TO HARVEST GINSENG NEED WRITTEN PERMISSION FROM THE LANDOWNER OR AGENCY.
Application for North Carolina Ginseng Dealer PermitPDF Document
More Information for NC Ginseng Harvesters and Dealers

Collecting: A protected plant permit is required when rescuing or collecting (scientific collections included) protected plants species on land you do not own- even with land-owner permission. This is true for whole plants as well as plant parts (i.e. seeds, leaves, rhizomes, etc.). If you are collecting protected plants or plant parts from your own property and NOT selling or giving them away, then no permit is needed.

Acquiring/Purchasing: Individuals who purchase protected species to plant in a home garden do not need a permit; however, a permit IS needed (1) to acquire and relocate a protected species in a non-garden setting--this includes rescuing plants, (2) to propagate, or (3) to re-sell, auction, or otherwise give away a protected species. All commercial operations regarding purchase of protected plant species will require a certificate of origin.

Propagating and/or Offering (Selling/Trading/Bartering/or Exchanging): No wild collected protected plants (or plant parts) may be offered for sale or trade. Only propagated stock may be sold, traded, or otherwise exchanged, even if for free. All commercial operations must acquire protected plant permits or certificates of origin for each protected plant species they propagate and sell. These forms are obtainable through the NCDA&CS nursery inspector assigned to your county. All individuals, non-profit organizations, and exempt entities will also require protected plant permits to sell plants with protected status.

More information can be found at the Nursery Registration page for more information regarding establishing a commerical operation (i.e. nursery).

TO APPLY FOR A PROTECTED PLANT COLLECTION OR PROPAGATION PERMIT, submit a cover letter and written proposal (maximum 5 pages) to Lesley Starke, lesley.starke@ncagr.gov for review. You must include your name on all documents that you submit for review, preferable in the header of the document.

A written proposal must include:
(1) The name of the species you are requesting to collect, rescue, propagate, etc., as well as the nature of the proposed project:
(a) Propagation for Sale or Trade,
(b) Research/Scientific Collection,
(c) Rescue (removal of wild plants only as a last resort and in lieu of their destruction), or
(d) Placing Plants into the Wild (if moved from within the same piece of property, then no permit is needed).
(2) The total number of plants to be impacted by your work.
(3) The origin/location of the plants or plant material; please be detailed and provide a map if you are able. If you know the NC Element Occurrence number, please provide this. If you will be collecting from more than one location, indicate the number of plants per occurrence to be impacted by your project.
(4) A clear and detailed description of the need for this work, methods, and expected results.
(5) Contact information for all land owners/land managers of the plant populations you will visit.
(6) Whether or not you are requesting access to a Plant Conservation Preserve, if so, which one(s).
(7) The names of other individuals who will be working under the permit as well as their affiliations.
(8) The name, affiliation, and contact information for the principal investigator of this work if different from the permit applicant.
(9) The time frame of your project including start and end dates and the (approximate) number of visits requested if you request access to a Plant Conservation Preserve.

Please also include a copy of the written permission from the land owner/ land manager to collect or otherwise work with protected plant species. For private land owners this can be in the form of a signed, dated letter; for public lands, contact the land manager to appy for permission with their agency. If your project requires any federal permits, you must also submit a copy with your proposal. Lastly, be sure to indicate if you will be working with multiple protected plant species and be sure to clearly state how they will be handled differently if this is the case.

Permit applications are reviewed by committee four times per year. This is typically the first week of the following months: January, April, July, and October. All permit requests will be reviewed in the next review period based on the order they are received in.

*Note* If you are requesting access to a Plant Conservation Preserve and will not be impacting any flora or fauna on the property, then please fill out the online access permit application form.

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Chart A:



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Chart B
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For Additional Information Contact:
NC Plant Conservation Program Administrator - David Welch
Phone: (919) 707-3760 | FAX: (919) 733-1041

NCDA&CS Plant Industry Division - Plant Protection Section
Plant Pest Administrator - Phillip L. Wilson
Mailing Address: 1060 Mail Service Center, Raleigh NC 27699-1060
Physical Address: 216 West Jones Street, Raleigh NC 27603
Phone: 919) 707-3753 | FAX: (919) 733-1041