Lawrence’s ‘harming plants’ law in action

Rain falls on flowers on the University of Kansas campus Monday, May 16, 2016, as a passerby with an umbrella walks in the background.

In Lawrence there’s a law against harming plants. And every once in a while I’ve seen people arrested and booked into jail on suspicion of violating it. Here’s one recent incident that happened on the University of Kansas campus, although in this case the alleged plant-harmer is still at large.

Last week, according to the online KU police crime log, someone reported that a vehicle went off the road overnight, did some doughnuts and damaged the grass near the Library Annex, 1880 Westbrooke St. over on West Campus. The case is still open, according to the crime log.

Not that I’m not curious, but being pretty busy covering things like murder and rape cases I haven’t dug into any of the other harming-plants arrests to see what they were about. The ordinance appears it would cover everything from angrily ripping up your neighbor’s flower bed to stealing a snack from a fruit tree that isn’t yours (unless it belongs to the city).

Here’s the city’s ordinance against harming plants, a category of criminal damage to property:

No person shall willfully injure or
destroy any plant, tree, vine, or
flower, the property of another,
standing on or attached to the land of
another, or shall pick, destroy, or
carry away therefrom or in any way
interfere with any part of the flowers
or fruit thereof; except that this
section shall not prohibit the picking
or carrying away of the ripe fruit of
any tree, plant, or vine on any
property owned by the City of
Lawrence; provided, however, that no
ripe fruit of any tree, plant or vine
located in a public right-of-way or
leased to another party shall be so
picked or carried away.

— I’m the Journal-World’s public safety reporter. Reach me by email at or by phone at 785-832-7187. I’m also on Twitter, @saramarieshep.