Why this cactus is listed for $250,000

NYC’s Cactus Store offers a wide range of unusual plants for sale, but their rarest is a Haageocereus tenuis, listed for sale on their website for $US250,000. Gifted to the store’s owners by a collector, the remaining population of the plant is expected to go extinct by 2024. Following is a transcript of the video.

Christian Cummings: We either specialize in very old plants, plants that are growing in a very rare and unique way or very rare plants. We don’t sell a lot of young plants and pristine plants. Actually a lot of the plants here are the same plants that you see at Home Depot, they’re just 30 years older or 40 or 80.

A cactus is listed for $US250,000 on its website.

It’s a plant called haageocereus tenuis, critically endangered plant that we acquired from a researcher who spent most of his life studying rare opuntias in Argentina and Patagonia. This particular plant comes from north of Lima, Peru and in the last 10 years it’s populations have gone from 500 individual plants in habitat to 150. And it’s believed that the plant will be completely extinct in the next 10 years.

We acquired this plant, but we’re also profoundly uncomfortable about relocating it. I mean there’s so few of them. There’s not a lot of information about the plant, how to grow it, what it wants. But right now it’s extremely happy in our greenhouse in Los Angeles. We sort of have it on our website, sort of as a joke, but we won’t sell it

The rest of their stock is a bit more affordable, ranging from as low as $US25 up to around $US560.

So we get our plants from all different places. A lot of time we get them from other collectors and special collections, conservatories, growers, all over, plants coming from all over the world. You know it’s kind of a difficult business because we don’t just go to a supplier and get everything we need from that one or two people. We have to sort of really hunt.

We’re more like an adoption agency in some ways. We’re not going to send a dog to someone who’s gonna put it in a cage. Similarly we are going to send plants into a good situation. And sometimes we have to turn people away because they see these organisms as decoration.

Dioscorea elephantipes is a favourite. They’re really fantastic, they look like stone. It’s essentially a big rare beautiful potato, it’s related to the yam. But they grow a vine, it’s called caudex plant. It stores water in it’s caudex and then the vine can grow if there’s no rain. It has enough energy in that organ to grow a vine and to photosynthesize. And then when it rains, it grows. This plant will grow for 80 to 100 years and can grow up to one square meter in size and will continue to put out its vine every season.

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.