(The following where taken at the KL Orchid garden except where noted. Some of the names may not be correct.) No other flower has the mystique and “far away land” appeal than the orchid, and for some, orchid collecting is a sinister secret world of back lot greenhouses cloistering any number of extinct species.
Orchid collecting is a serious business and smuggling of this sexy foliage is as rampant as the drug trade.
Like the drug trade some perpetrators crossing boarders or flying out of South East Asia have been caught with plants taped to their bodies, others have used body cavities to smuggle these exotic beauties out of the country.
The problem with the orchid trade is the environmental impact the smugglers leave in their wake. Some species have been smuggled and collected into extinction.
One of the rarest orchids (below), the Paphiopedilum gigantifolium, was only discovered in 1997. It is now thought to be extinct in its natural habitat due to over-collecting.
(Photo by Michael Koopowitz)
(Not sure what this is above)
One area in Malaysia still holds a small population of the Paphiopedilum rothschildianum pictured below. Its habitat still intact the location is guarded and kept secret as one plant can fetch $5000 US.
A man in the UK was arrested then released for lack of evidence for having in his possession an extinct species of orchid. He had been a collector for many years and didn’t recall how he obtained the species (hmm, smuggler, perpetrator maybe?). He has been working with the government of Borneo to repopulate the indigenes flower.
If you like orchids this is the place. There are many reputable florists that do not deal in the black market so be mindful.
Ugh, the damn monkeys…
Heading to Korea BRB.