Would you like a bouquet of snowdrops? Why you shouldn’t pick primroses and how you can be punished for it

Would you like a bouquet of snowdrops?  Why you shouldn’t pick primroses and how you can be punished for it


With the onset of spring, the counters of Ukrainian markets abound with colorful flowers: snowdrops, snowdrops and other primroses. Grandmothers offer to buy a bundle of fragrant pine trees from them. Also, in some regions of Ukraine, there is a tradition to pluck or dig up the first flowers and carry them to the cemetery. People often forget that these plants are at the stage of extinction and are listed in the Red Book. Oleksiy Vasylyuk, the head of the public organization “Ukrainian Nature Conservation Group”, told “UP Life” why early flowering plants should not be plucked, what punishment awaits for this and how important these plants are for the ecology as a whole. Are all primroses in danger of extinction Primroses are the collective popular name for early blooming spring plants. In total, there are more than 40 species of such plants. There is also a “primitive of spring” flower, but it blooms later – in April-May. Bouquets are not made from it. Oleksiy Vasylyuk says that not all early-flowering plant species are listed in the Red Book, but this does not mean that they should be plucked. However, it includes most species that are attractive for creating bouquets. Photo: servickuz/Depositphotos Primroses listed in the Red Book of Ukraine: spring white flower (geophyte); snowdrop: snow-white, folded, Elveza; late flower trifoliate (Ankara); rastka: bent, mountain; tulip: two-flowered, fragrant, Bibersteina; saffron: reticulate, narrow-leaved (Suz), Banat, Heifel (Carpathian), Purinia; the band is multi-colored; canine tooth (erythronium); cyclamen koski (Kuznetsova); chess grouse; Odesa recluse (gymnospermium); viper onion is cluster-shaped; cheremsha (bear’s onion). The only ones that are not in danger of extinction are starlings or goose onions (small yellow flowers that look like snowdrops) and some other species that people usually don’t pay attention to. He says that there was a debate among scientists about whether to continue to consider bear’s onion, which is popularly called cheremshe, red book. After all, in those places where it grows, there is a lot of it. But in fact, every year its number decreases. Nevertheless, in 2021, this plant was left on the list of endangered plants in Ukraine. Cheremsha sometimes occupies huge areas. For example, there are hundreds of hectares in Kholodny Yar in Cherkasy region. But every year the area becomes smaller due to climatic factors and mass extermination. It may take several years or decades before it disappears completely. Therefore, you should not pay attention to the arguments of lovers of forbidden red book salad that there is a lot of it. It’s just that in those places where it still exists, the plant grows quite densely. The only difference between spring onions and other primroses is that they are edible. “It is a distant relative of garlic, which we are used to planting at home, but this does not make the plant not rare or domestic. It grows in a period when there are no domestic greens yet, so many people liked it simply because it already has leaves when the domestic the garlic hasn’t grown yet,” says the public activist. Alternatively, you can simply put a few bulbs in water and after a week you will have your own green onions, which taste little different. Oleksiy Vasylyuk says that there are many other beautiful plants that bloom in early spring, for example, net crocuses that grow in the steppes. But it is impossible to make a bouquet from them, because they have a short flower stalk. According to him, the dream flower blooms a little later. It also disappears in nature and is listed in the Red Book. Bouquets with her are timed for the so-called memorial days a week after Easter. In Kyiv region and Lviv region, according to Oleksiy Vasylyuk, the flower grows in the forests. It is sold to be planted on graves, so in nature it is completely dug up, leaving no chance of survival where these plants grew naturally. At the same time, in Donetsk region and Luhansk region, all cemeteries are blooming with wild tulips and hollyhocks. It grows there right in the beams. Flowers are dug up and transplanted. If the cemetery is poorly maintained and the soil is not dug up there, then the transplant does not affect the destruction of individual plants, but where they grew, they no longer remain. Why are primroses important? Oleksiy Vasyliuk says that the appearance of these plants means the beginning of a certain interconnected process in nature. And if they are already blooming, then insects will appear to pollinate them. The meaning of early flowering, according to the expert, is that insects have time to pollinate them before the moment when tall grass will grow in these places, somewhere in the steppe or in the forest, or leaves will grow on the trees and the primroses will simply become invisible. “These plants are in a hurry to use the narrow period of time when they will still have time to be pollinated by insects, but all the other plants will not be there yet. It is a very daring adventure invented by nature so that many different types of plants can grow in the same space,” added the head of the public organizations As the expert said, insects need primroses not only for pollination, but also for nutrition, because they wake up in early spring and feed on the nectar of these plants. They fly out when there are the first flowers, but if they are not there, the insects will begin to die. The expert adds that all types of plants are equally important, only those species that are on the verge of extinction are listed in the Red Book. Why are primroses disappearing “First of all, primroses are destroyed by humans – this is the main reason. Also, the decrease in their number is affected by the spread of foreign plant species that have been brought to us from other continents, for example, ragweed. They fill the space where Ukrainian plant species should grow”, – says Oleksiy Vasyliuk. According to him, another reason for the disappearance of primroses is the burning of grass and plowing of territories. After all, in this way, plants simply disappear altogether. For example, nothing alive remains after plowing. Also, according to the expert, the extinction of primroses contributes to the plucking of flower tops. Many people mistakenly think that if you leave the bulb, it is completely safe for the plant. In fact, this is not the case. They are injured no less, because the bulbs do not have a green mass of leaves to gain strength until next year. At the same time, primroses are flowering plants, and therefore they reproduce by seeds, plucking flowers does not allow them to do this. The public activist adds that legal responsibility does not divide whole or not whole plants. Each flower is the same amount of damage and liability. Why you can’t sell and buy primroses As the State Environmental Inspection informed “UP. Life”, fines from 1.7 thousand UAH to 3.4 thousand UAH with confiscation of plants are provided for the purchase and sale of flowers from the Red Book in Ukraine. What threatens violators? for those who pluck red-listed plants, punishment is provided: from 510 UAH to 850 UAH for citizens and from 850 to 1.4 thousand UAH for officials with confiscation of flowers (Article 90 of the Code of Administrative Offenses); for the illegal purchase and sale of primroses, the fine ranges from UAH 510 to UAH 1.7 thousand (Article 88-1 of the Criminal Procedure Code); for the same actions in relation to plants that grow on the territory of the nature reserve fund and are listed in the Red Book of Ukraine, or are protected in accordance with the international treaties of our country, the penalty is from 1.7 thousand UAH to 3.7 thousand UAH with confiscation plants (Part 2 of Article 88-1 of the Criminal Procedure Code). for one copy of an illegally harvested red book plant, appropriate compensation is provided for its destruction. The amount varies in each region, ranging from UAH 30 to 62, depending on the region and type of plant. You will have to pay 31 to 62 hryvnias for pine trees, saffron or snowdrops, and for grass – from 37 hryvnias to 62 hryvnias. For example, in Ternopil and Khmelnytskyi regions, the fine for cherry trees is UAH 62, for saffron and snowdrop – from UAH 49 to UAH 62 depending on the species, for grass – from UAH 37 to UAH 62. In the Carpathians, the amount of the fine is from UAH 42 per flower. In the Vinnytsia region, you will have to pay UAH 31 for uprooted pine trees, snowdrops or dream grass. Eco-inspectors emphasize that trade in primroses (sale and purchase) is a violation of the laws of Ukraine “On the Red Book of Ukraine”, “On Plant Life”, “On Environmental Protection of Ukraine” and others. To combat the destruction and sale of primroses, the so-called “Operation Primrose” began in Ukraine in mid-February and will last until May 15. These are raids by the Ecoinspection together with the National Police of Ukraine on places where plants are sold. “If you discover a violation of the law – destruction of the natural population of primroses, plucking them into bouquets or selling them – immediately inform the law enforcement officers by calling 102! Buying primroses – you support flower poachers and become an accomplice to the crime,” the ecoinspection adds. Oleksiy Vasyliuk said that scheduled checks on the plucking or sale of primroses have been prohibited since 2014 by the Cabinet of Ministers’ Resolution “On Termination of State Supervision (Control) and State Market Supervision in Martial Law”. “Perhaps such raids are conducted somewhere, but not in the markets, where they are sold en masse, and not in the forests, where they are plucked, because there needs to be an official scheduled inspection. They do it somewhere for PR in the subway or just as a promotion until March 8. But this is not patrolling forests, not scheduled inspections of trains, and not raids on markets, as was the case before 2014. There are a maximum of three or four eco-inspectors for the whole of Kyiv or the region,” the expert noted. He adds that he remembers the last raids of the transport police in 2005. Passengers arriving by train from the Carpathians and the Crimea were stopped, all their bags and boxes were checked. “After the annexation of Crimea in 2014, of course, primroses are not brought to us from there. But they are still plucked in the Carpathians and sold in various cities of Ukraine. The situation has developed that it is only possible to hope for the consciousness of people who will not pluck or buy these species plants,” says the public activist. According to the expert, no one goes far into the forest for one bouquet. Sellers create whole schemes. There are some people who collect a huge amount of these plants. Others are packed in boxes and brought to cities, then distributed among merchants. “Already at that time, women with an unhappy appearance appear on street corners, standing and holding several bouquets for sale. Although, usually, in the shop nearby, there are whole boxes of flowers, which contain approximately 500 bouquets,” says the expert. If law enforcement officers approach them, they answer that they have several bouquets that they grew at home and talk about a sick heart. Although in reality, this is a large-scale and dishonest business. Often people buy picked primroses by the box at a wholesale price and later resell them. “I remember how, at the beginning of my nature conservation activities, my colleagues and I created and agreed on the placement of a social advertisement in the Kyiv metro, where it was said that primroses are given by boys who save money on girls,” emphasizes Oleksiy Vasylyuk. This outraged many. But in fact it is. A bouquet of roses grown in a greenhouse is worth much more than snowdrops picked in the forest. But choosing the latter, buyers not only save money, but also leave Ukraine without its natural treasures. Wildlife pays for saving people. It will be recalled that in Italy, one of the gastronomic universities released the atlas “The Ark of Taste in Ukraine”, which collected food products that are disappearing. Read also: Invasive trees have no place in the wild: why the Ministry of Environment should ban their planting


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