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Wild orchid trade in China is huge, overlooked and ‘devastating,’ study finds

21 / 08 / 2019, Mongabaycom News

If you’re looking to buy orchids from plant markets in southern China, chances are you’ll find plenty of orchids that have been collected from the wild, sometimes illegally. And these vibrant wild orchids are usually priced much cheaper than those grown in nurseries, according to a new study. Researchers have found trade in more than 400 species of orchids collected from the wild, involving more than 1.2 million individuals, potentially worth more than $14.6 million — all in just one year of survey. “The results of this study are devastating,” Jacob Phelps, a lecturer at Lancaster University and co-chair of the IUCN SSC Orchid Specialist Group – Global Trade Programme, who was not involved in the study, told Mongabay. “We already knew that there was illegal trade of wild orchids in China, but this is our first real insight into the huge scale and richness of that trade.” Orchids, popular as ornamental plants and used in traditional medicine and food, are traded widely across the world. They also represent the single largest group of flora or fauna for which international trade is regulated: all 29,000-odd species of known orchids have been listed on Appendix I or Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). According to official data reported to the CITES, nearly all global commercial orchid trade involves artificially propagated plants. However, a number of studies have revealed that the trade in wild-sourced orchids, mostly undeclared and undocumented, may in fact be much greater than…

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