The harvesting of wild plants, particularly for use as food or in herbal medicines. Also: wild-crafting, wild crafting.
The harvesting of wild plants (known as "wildcrafting") is more complicated than one might imagine. Ethical wildcrafting includes positive species identification and the avoidance of any environmental impact on the plant in question as well as on the other interdependent elements in the ecosystem. Once a harvest is completed the area involved should look as though the wildcrafter was never there. The bottom line is sustainability.
Kerry Hackett, "Some herbs now at risk or near extinction," Stratford Beacon Herald (Stratford, Ontario), March 12, 2004
It is generally a good idea to harvest where the plant appears to be thriving, as that is where we will be able to find the strongest plants. Always be sure to leave enough to that the plant can easily recover its growth. The art of "wildcrafting," which is picking wild herbs, actually can be practiced in such a way as to aid the growth of wild plants by judicious thinning and pruning.
John Lust, The Natural Remedy Bible, Pocket Books, April 1, 2003
Some members [of the International Herb Growers and Marketers Association] are herb growers. Others deal in decorative products using herbs; some deal in aromatics; others in kitchen herbs, and some are wildcrafters, or people who collect herbs and other plants in the wild, Buehrle said.
Wildcrafters sell to medical and pharmaceutical companies.
"One business does more than $1 million in wildcrafting," she said.
Dick Wright, "Herb-growers' meet includes garden trip," The Baton Rouge Sunday Advocate, April 3, 1988
Utne magazine ran a recent article about wildcrafting with the title, "The Guerrilla Gatherers," which is apt since much wildcrafting is technically illegal (because it often occurs in protected wilderness areas). The Utne article was reprinted from Whole Terrain, a journal devoted to ecological and social issues (under the less inflammatory title "The Give and Take of Wildcrafting").
Note that an earlier sense of wildcrafting — skill in or knowledge of matters relating to survival in a wilderness environment — dates to about 1924, according to the Oxford English Dictionary.