On this day, British plant explorer Roy Lancaster revealed that a thriving black market for plants was threatening rare Chinese orchids.
In the same way, an art collector might buy stolen works of art underground; elite plant collectors are the wealthy clients of orchid smugglers.
Lancaster shared the plight of Paphiopedilum armeniacum ("paff-ee-oh-PED-ih-lum ar-MEN-ee-A-cum"), commonly known as the Golden Slipper Orchid - a rare orchid, which was discovered in 1980 but was 100 percent harvested from the world in 1983.
In just three short years, the Golden Slipper Orchid had gone from discovery to presumed extinction.
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