Is That Rare Plant Illegal?

In The Guardian, British botanist James Wong offers tips on figuring out if that rare plant you’re buying is illegal. Rare plants, including endangered orchids, are taken from the wild by unscrupulous sellers. It’s illegal, and contributes to extinctions. In addition, wild plants are unlikely to survive in cultivation. So how can responsible gardeners know if a purchase is legal? Wong’s advice includes buying plants with mass-produced perfection, with all leaves and flowers in great shape.

Plants grown in nursery “captivity” will be cosseted, meaning perfectly symmetrical growth, an upright habit, and zero damage from pests or diseases; in other words, an incredibly standardised, “showroom-new” look. But wild-collected plants have a contorted, asymmetrical character that being grown in a harsher environment gives – which is precisely why they are considered so valuable; and this is a sign that you may be viewing something illegal.

Be especially wary of online purchases from unknown vendors and social media sites. Illegal plants may be included among listings of legitimate plants. Some sellers are blatant enough to show photos of the plants they’ve removed from the wild. If the seller is in another country but doesn’t mention plant import or export certificates, that could be a red flag that the sale is illicit. Additionally, it’s important to hold tech companies responsible for illegal plants listed on their sites. Demand that they responsibly police their sellers to root out illegal plant sales.

Explore posts in the same categories: Conservation, General Gardening, In the News

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