Learn which plants thrive in your Hardiness Zone with our new interactive map!

Law Regarding Picking Fruit From Someone's Tree

By Noel Shankel
Never pick fruit off a tree without getting the owner's consent first.
Jupiterimages/Creatas/Getty Images

Few things taste better than homegrown fruit picked ripe from a tree. While it may be tempting to pick ripe fruit, it's not always legal. Fruit-picking laws protect tree owners who have put time and effort into growing their own fruit.

The Law

Under most circumstances, the fruit that grows on a tree belongs to the owner of the tree. If a tree branch containing fruit hangs over the property line between two neighbors, the neighbor of the tree's owner does not have the right to pick it. She may trim the branch back to the property line, but the tree owner retains the right to the fruit.

Public Trees

Fruit trees that grow on public land are open to the public. People have the right to pick this fruit, regardless of whether the tree belongs to them or not. If the tree rests on private property but the fruit hangs over into public land, residents can legally pick it.

Fallen Fruit

Some people assume that if fruit falls from a neighbor's tree and lands on their property, they have the legal right to eat it. This is not always the case. Without the tree owner's consent, the fruit must be returned and cannot be consumed.


About the Author


Based in California, Noel Shankel has been writing and directing since 2002. His work has been published in "Law of Inertia Magazine." Shankel has a Bachelor of Arts in film and writing from San Francisco State University.