Some of London’s rarest flowers have to be locked up and monitored by security cameras due to an upswing in plant theft.
The Sir Harold Hillier Gardens in Hampshire has become a “crime hotspot,” the BBC reports, as an increasing number of people are swiping buds to sell on the black market for hundreds of dollars.
Certain rare species of plants, including new species of orchid, are worth up to £300 ($US500) each, according to the BBC.
Barry Clarke, who works at the Hillier botanical gardens, said that up to 20 plants are stolen from the site each year. He suspects that “anyone from the little old lady down the street to a young person out of agricultural college,” could be behind the plant heists.
Plant crimes are widespread in Britain. Earlier this year, a rare, endangered water lily was stolen out of the glasshouse at Kew Gardens, one of the largest botanical gardens in the world.
The import and export of endangered species requires a permit issued by CITES, the organisation that regulates the protection of wild fauna and flora. However, horticulturists believe that loads of endangered plants are being sold online without the CITES permit.
As a preventative measure, many botanical gardens have started “anchoring plants underground, growing them under cages, and installing CCTV cameras,” the BCC writes. Some universities are also working on an alarm system.
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