a question about the ethics of "stealing"

Discussion in 'Conversations Forum' started by Annell, Jun 15, 2008.

  1. Katalina25

    Katalina25 New Member

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    There was this I found during the week,

     
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  2. C8luvs2gardn

    C8luvs2gardn Active Member

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    Here in Ottawa there have been many instances of gardens being raided, especially gardens planted and tended by seniors in apartment buildings which are adjacent to public areas (Nasty x about 6 trillion!) In Ontario the trillium is protected as the provincial flower and picking or digging up is strictly prohibited. That being said however, many people simply go across the bridge to Quebec and dig them up from QC provincial parks (go figure that one)!

    I have been out walking and stopped to admire private gardens, engaged in conversation with the gardeners, and even without asking I have often been offered seeds, plants, etc. even from strangers (gardeners are the best!).

    I have on occasion harvested seeds from open areas, hiking areas, vacant lots, etc. but I always ask myself this question: Am I the only one doing this? We may think that by taking 3 of 12 plants or harvesting the seeds from 2 out of 20 plants is ok because we are leaving some for other passersby to admire. BUT, what if the next person takes 2 of 9 plants (thinks its ok because they see someone else has been there and dug some up), and the next 2 of 7, and so on? Our actions may have deeper ramifications than we think or want to admit.

    Please think carefully before 'sampling' the merchandise. Even if you know for sure that it is a nasty invasive (such as purple loosestrife, Lythrum salicaria, for example), unless you know HOW to remove without further impacting the environment, then it is best to leave it alone (my understanding of L.salicaria is that harvesting without proper care can release thousands and thousands of seeds back into the environment you are trying to remove it from!)

    We may run, walk, stumble, drive, or fly, but let us never lose sight of the reason for the journey, or miss a chance to see a rainbow on the way. - Gloria Gaither
     
  3. ToddTheLorax

    ToddTheLorax Active Member

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    As for this statement "Notice that everyone in your list as a European or North American, usually collecting in areas occupied by non-whites - sometimes as part of a European empire taking away plants as well as everything else of interest"

    Jeez, I doubt the plant collecting expeditions described above amounted to the level of an international incident. Plus, to be fair, the exploited, proleteriat masses of the developing world aren't exactly doing a bang up job of protecting their native flora these days, and us evil white imperialists are the only ones trying to save it.

    As for my own plant collecting, I would rarely / never collect a wild plant, but have and do take seeds and cuttings. I have destroyed exotic plants that escaped cultivation in local woods. I like to propagate plants and often, when I've grown too many, guerilla garden them back to their native habitat. My conscience is clear. This is a service to the environment as far as Im concerned.
     
  4. lorax

    lorax Rising Contributor 10 Years

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    Speaking as a member of the "proletariat masses of a developing country", I'm going to take exception to that one, oh fellow Lorax. The "evil white imperialists" here seem bent on cutting down our old growth, and only the "proles" are doing anything to stop it... Our current goverment is actually very active in preservation and conservation of our native flora here in Ecuador.

    I beleive my previous post in this thread makes clear my attitude towards wild plant collection....
     
  5. ToddTheLorax

    ToddTheLorax Active Member

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    sure there are exceptions, but in many places population growth and crude agriculture lead to massive deforestation to create lousy farm land. Of course this leads to erosion, desertification, more deforestation etc. Precious rainforest habitat scarcely known to science is becoming just plain scarce. In mexico small and rare hundred year old pine trees are cut for firewood etc. And even where people are very poor and life is relatively difficult, population growth is steady....

    We've certainly done our part to muck up the environment but 'stealing' plants from many places can be altruistic.

    Didn't mean to offend you lorax sorry. I was reacting mostly to this trendy (and in my view erroneous) view of American history that pretends the only thing worth discussing is the non-unique displacement of native peoples and exploitation 'their' resources, non-unique exploitation of slave labor etc.
     
  6. lorax

    lorax Rising Contributor 10 Years

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    No offence taken; certainly our neighbour Peru has taken the approach you describe and look at its deserts! And under the Inca, certainly both countries were dealing with slavery, displacement, etc....
     
  7. ToddTheLorax

    ToddTheLorax Active Member

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    what a good topic for the conversation forum. some people say any 'stealing' is wrong. some people say in certain circumstances could be justified. and some probably have no qualms in any situation (the you can't own a tree crowd).

    Guess I'm in the middle, I could 'steal' some plant material to serve a higher purpose. Just like MLK broke the law in his quest for civil rights. but at the same time I respect property rights to some degree and more importantly the effect on the environment.

    As an example, I stole a dozen or so cuttings of 'swanes golden' italian cypress from some shopping center landscaping this past winter, from several different clones. And now I have five or six tiny plants, one or two Ill end up keeping, and will give the rest away. The stock plants are fine and no one will ever notice the difference. But people will notice the new propagations for many years to come. And the multimillionaire who owns the development will never notice the tiny clippings are gone, if he ever knew the plants were there.

    I also took several cuttings from a nice weeping juniper along a local highway at the same time. it was not a cultivated form, just a nice seedling from an unidentified species. Two or three out of twenty or so successfully rooted. And one of those may die. Funny thing is just two months later city landscapers 'pruned' the tree, removing 3/4 of the foliage and it is already in decline and will likely die. So I have the only clones of something very special that would otherwise be lost.

    here is a picture of the juniper, i also tried grafting onto j.ashei seedlings with no success. and some pictures of the golden cypresses. BTW I have a couple of extras (of the cypress) if you want a rooted cutting.......
     

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  8. lorax

    lorax Rising Contributor 10 Years

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    See, and I would not by any pale call that stealing - it's not as though you've uprooted his trees! Equally, I don't consider it stealing, nor even do I consider it wrong, to pull up and burn Kudzu vines or any other alien invasive I find in my landscape. I'll generally let the native invasives go, though, provided that they're native to the biome in which I find them.
     
  9. Michael F

    Michael F Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    Just out of curiosity, now the need arises, what's the plural of Lorax? Loraxes? Loraces? Loraxen?

    ;-)
     
  10. Katalina25

    Katalina25 New Member

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    So,

    Don't shout I have migraine..*grin

    These 'cuttings' you 'aquired' were not in *your garden* but you freely accept you did'nt steal..strange law lol

    It matters not why you decided to trim a few for future generations. The law as it stands here looks at it this way.

    Lets say its me that did that then I would be charged with intent to steal by reason of having an implement to aid my theft.

    I *do understand your motives though..honest!

    Here you can trim a neighbours tree that overhangs your property but you must throw the clippings back over to them..haahahahahahahha
     
  11. lorax

    lorax Rising Contributor 10 Years

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    Todd, I always though of it as Lorices. Kind of like the plural of Vortex is Vortices.... Although, given the name's Suessian origins, I'd also accept Loraxiceae. Which kind of makes us sound like plants, lol.
     
  12. jeanneaxler

    jeanneaxler Active Member

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    If I take a cutting or a plant from a public place like a forest where it won't be missed immediately, and I grow several plants from this cutting then return two of them back to where I took it from would that be stealing or can I say I borrowed it and returned it with interest?
     
  13. Katalina25

    Katalina25 New Member

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    LOL

    No. You must return them all, more so if your thinking of gain from the deed. The forests are depleated enough thanks.

    I suppose you could always donate to the Forestry Commision..lmaooooooooooooo

    *smile
     
  14. togata57

    togata57 Contributor 10 Years

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    Obviously, a complex issue. I own several plants which began as broken-off remnants found on store floors, in the dust...a now-magnificent variegated Tradescantia on a 12" hanging pot started as three wilted leaves on a stem, walked upon by passersby. Would it have been a better decision to leave this poor fragment to be swept into a landfill? I think not. ---Of course digging hostas from your neighbor's flowerbed is WRONG. Removing ladyslipper orchids from parks is WRONG. But rescuing abandoned houseplants from a trash can IS the right thing to do.---I have an urge to start a "Plant Rescue" group: when I see a schefflera in an office window, leggy from lack of light and shriveling up from lack of water, I want to enter the place and forcibly remove this living thing from a certain death. But I don't, because it's not mine. ---The manager at my place of work is, shall I say, Not Good With Plants. When she received a beautiful gardenia as a gift I knew what would happen...Tempted as I was to snatch the plant from her desk, I did not. In hindsight, I believe I should have asked her if I could take over the gardenia's care. Guess that's a key element of my perspective: asking. And, as plant lovers, we should try to educate folks about the importance of plants and their habitats. I was once told: "What seems obvious to you may not be so to someone else." As time goes by this statement has been proven to me innumerable times. We must attempt to see from a different perspective---there are people who would tramp right through a patch of dwarf larkspur, not because they are evil incarnate but because the beauty and interrelatedness of nature has never been shown to them. Knowledge is power, and we who know have the power to teach others.
    I would like to commend and encourage "Honoryourlife" (see above). I was once a teenager with my nose buried in nature handbooks, growing plants on my windowsill and browsing dreamily through seed catalogues. It is good to hear from you.
     
  15. lorax

    lorax Rising Contributor 10 Years

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    Another thing I´m not sure has been brought up here yet is the ethics of rescuing plants from areas that are being cleared for development. I personally have no qualms whatsoever going along behind the oil pipeline clearers and saving aroids.
     
  16. Weekend Gardener

    Weekend Gardener Active Member 10 Years

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    If you have permission, it is not stealing. If you haven't asked, or have asked and was denied permission, it clearly is stealing. I don't think there is any argument about that.

    But whether it is ethical to "steal" under certain circumstances is a discussion loaded with landmines.

    But I can turn the question the other way around - what is the ethics of not doing something to rescue plants when you know that impending destruction is a certainty. This was a situation I faced 20 years ago. My brother in law lived in a new subdivision. The lots across the street from him has been subdivided, but not built on yet. It was an area of secondary growth - not of general interest, except for the carpet of trilliums that emerge every spring. When the developer decided to start building, I approached them to collect some of the rhizomes. To my surprise, the answer was "no".

    Now, if I hadn't asked, I might have been tempted to go and collect some rhizomes anyway, knowing that they will be bulldozed within a week. But, having asked, and been denied the permission changed the situation completely, because if I then go on and collect those plants, it will be blatant theft. So, I left it at that.

    Sure enough, the following week, the whole area was bulldozed, the vegetation built into a large pile, and burnt.

    To this day, I still regret not having done something about it.
     
  17. ToddTheLorax

    ToddTheLorax Active Member

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    The last post is an example of the "it's better to ask for forgiveness than permission" principle. Since you asked and were told no, it's hard to dig up the plants. But had you done it without ever asking and the builder knew, he would have never bothered to do a thing about it and as a practical matter couldn't. Plus the guy sounds like a real jerk.
     
  18. Scherle

    Scherle Member

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    Although I am new in writing on this forum, I have been reading it for some time and enjoying much of the content.

    As well gardening for years.

    This subject does interest me and I am writing a short note

    I have dug up, with and sometimes without permission a plant or two from
    area that is going to be a new highway

    abandoned farms or homes, where sometimes old varieties of plants have managed to survive unattended for years.

    This spring, with permission, I dug up about 70 daffodils.
    The place was an abandoned apple growing farm. At one time there must have been some very nice gardens.

    In spring there where row upon row of these daffodils. Just beginning to bloom. A simple daffodil but a creamy colour.

    The plants where so thick, it was difficult to dig and took a bit of time.

    I dug up two clumps and now have them in a garden bed at the front of my home, a new garden bed, in an older subdivision.

    It makes me happy to have a bit of the garden from someone, now gone, who had a love for the garden.

    Perhaps in years, my flower bed, as well, will grow thick as was this bed.
    Hopefully though, someone would come along and divide the plants and share them.
     
  19. Weekend Gardener

    Weekend Gardener Active Member 10 Years

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    Todd, you said it!
     
  20. jeanneaxler

    jeanneaxler Active Member

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    This thread is great.

    Just a reminder of the definition of ethics from Wikipidia:
    "Ethics is a major branch of philosophy, encompassing right conduct and good life."

    And a reminder of stealing:
    "is the illegal taking of another person's property without that person's freely-given consent. "

    The eternal problem of what is lawful vs what is moral. I find it very uplifting that so many think moral is more important than legality.
     
  21. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    It's always a matter of who owns or administers the land the plants are on, and what their wishes or rules are. If you don't ask first or find out the pertinent regulations it can at least be considered rude if not actually illegal. There can be reasons or at least motivations for denying permission that you are not aware of. It might sometimes even be something like concerns about being liable if you injure yourself while collecting the plants or cuttings.
     
  22. et2007

    et2007 Active Member

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    My "chicken heart" hot pepper didn't growed well this summer, it only 4", produced 2 peppers + 3 flowers. The first two peppers almost ripe, one disappeared, I thought the "chipmun" did it but my neighbor said someone is go around stealing people veg. I didn't think so but 2 weeks later the other pepper disappeared, I think someone or it must like the burning pain. Well, I have only two little peppers left, the weather is getting cold so i dug up my first time "chicken heart" hot pepper bring it indoor, hope it survice so I can have seeds for next year.
    I know the economy is in trouble but " hot peppers?"
     
  23. Michael F

    Michael F Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    Could be birds, too - they don't taste chilli as hot and will eat them very readily.
     
  24. Derek Denim

    Derek Denim Member

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    Once when I was walking down a old country road. I spotted a bright flower standing out amongst weeds. Taking a closer look I discovered it to be phlox. Looking around I discovered two other colors of Phlox nearby. It was then that I noticed the old stone foundation of a house long gone. Obviously years ago people lived there and these 3 phlox plants were straglers from their garden. Each plant was a single stalk barely surviving the area [it was in complete shade]. Since the house was gone the place had become overgrown. I then came back later and dug up the plants and to this day they are thriving in my garden. They are quite hardy and spread quickly so each year I dig some up and give to friends and relatives. Now they are blooming in over 8 different gardens around my town. In this instance I feel like what I did was ok since they were stuggling to survive and not being enjoyed by anyone. Now they are enjoyed by countless people. But with every issue, it depends on the circumstances. This is definately not a black and white issue. DD
     
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2008
  25. et2007

    et2007 Active Member

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    Hi, Micheal F...hm... after I dug up and looked at the evidence left by finger nail couldn't go though the first time close to the body then moved out to the tender part I beleive it is a human job... it's not a big deal, just that I beleive in asking first for what is not your...
     

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