One of the 39 Melachot
, the reaping category
includes cutting or plucking any growing thing.
Agriculture is again one of the main
ways in which man shows his dominance over nature.
This category is therefore also one of those mentioned
in the Torah: "Six days shall you work, but
you shall rest on the seventh; in plowing and in
harvesting, you shall rest." (Exodus 34:21)
Such activities as plucking a flower and plucking a
fruit from a tree come under this heading.
The same is true of mowing a lawn.
It was also legislated that we do not handle any growing
flowers or plants, and it is forbidden to climb a tree
or smell a growing flower.
Fruit which falls from a tree on Shabbat may
not be used on the same day.
The use of animals as well as plants is forbidden
since there is the concern that one might forget
and inadvertently pluck a branch for use as a switch.
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Most of this information is taken
from the book "SABBATH Day of Eternity"
by Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan, published by NCSY.
In the book itself, there are notes that refer the
reader to detailed footnotes.
I am lucky to have found such a clear, concise manual
with these brief overviews of laws so vast and complex
there are Rabbis that specialize in them.