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saw palmetto bush with fan-like leaves

Permit now required to sell saw palmetto berries

ripe saw palmetto berries are black ovals

Many companies use dried, ripe berries from the saw palmetto (Serenoa repens) to make an herbal extract. The extract is used to treat symptoms associated with enlarged prostate glands. In Florida, saw palmetto berries ripen in August-October, so that is prime season for berry pickers. However, as of July 17, 2018, harvesters who hope to sell their product need to have a permit to do so.

About the permit

The permit to harvest endangered or commercially exploited plants is now required for saw palmettoes. This permit is issued by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS). The permit also applies to many other plants that are on the state’s regulated plant list.

Do I need a permit to collect berries on my own property?

If you want to sell the berries, the answer is, “Yes, you do need a permit, even if you are collecting on your own property. If you want to allow someone else to harvest and sell berries from your property, you do not need a permit yourself, but the collector will need one.

Can I collect on public lands, like state forests?

You need to request permission from the property manager. Be aware that harvest of saw palmetto berries is not allowed in many public parks and forests. If the manager does give you permission, you need to submit a letter from them with your application, just as you would for any other property owner.

What do I need to submit in order to get a permit?

You will need to fill out the permit application form. You will also need a letter from the property owner (if collecting on someone else’s land). This letter should include the property owner’s name  and should say that the owner is giving you permission to collect saw palmetto berries at a specific location (giving the address) that he/she owns.

Unripe saw palmetto berries are green and oval-shaped. They hang in clusters from the plant.

I have workers helping me–do they each need their own permit?

No, you can include other people’s names on your permit. You will list them under “names of person(s) authorized to collect under this permit (item #3 on the application form). See how to do this on the sample application.

Do I need a separate permit for each location where I plan to harvest berries?

If you plan to collect saw palmetto berries on multiple properties (one owner or multiple owners), you can list each of these owners and locations on a separate sheet of paper and attach that to your application form. Write “see attached” in items #4 and 5 on the form. You need to be sure to include the information required in items # 4 and 5 for each location.

Where do I send my permit application? How long will it take to be approved?

The FDACS Division of Plant Industry office in Gainesville is processing these permits. Their address is at the top of the application form. You must submit your form at least 14 days before you plan to start your collection. It is important that you take care to fill out the form completely and correctly, and that you remember to include the letter(s) from the property owner(s) with your application.

Where can I learn more?

The FDACS has created a website specifically to address the saw palmetto berry permit. It includes sample forms (filled out) so you can see exactly how the form should be completed. It also has a list of frequently asked questions (with their answers).

Sol Looker, UF/IFAS Extension Flagler County horticulture agent, contributed to this blog post.

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