Plant thieves

Saruma henryiAs if keeping the deer at bay weren’t hard enough, this year two-legged plant thieves are particularly plaguing Cornell Plantations, the botanical gardens, arboretum and natural areas at Cornell University).

Last December, I posted about how Plantations staff spray trees with ‘ugly mix’ to prevent rustlers from cutting evergreens for Christmas trees. But that’s not really an option for the many rare, unusual and valuable plants being carted off — some in broad daylight — during the growing season. According to the Cornell Chronicle:

High-value thefts include a rare, slow-growing, potted specimen-sized Agave and a heavy, glazed container filled with colorful annuals and perennials that was stolen right in front of the Plantations administration building. In perhaps the most brazen theft, the herb garden manager was laying out perennials in peat pots throughout the garden in preparation for planting. She took a short break, only to return to find that many of the plants had been stolen. Most recently, a collection of unusual heirloom vegetable plants were taken from their cold frames located outside the Plantations’ vegetable garden.

Missing plants include:

* Lysichiton camtschatense (Asian skunk cabbage),
* Glaucidium palmatum
* Epimediums (Bishop’s cap)
* Saruma henryi, an Asian woodlander (image above right)

Heirloom tomato varieties:

* Aunt Ruby’s German Green
* Big Rainbow
* Black from Tula
* Cream Sausage
* Giant Oxheart
* Hillbilly Potato Leaf
* Plum Lemon
* Orange-fleshed Smudge, and
* Wapsipinicon Peach

If these have mysteriously shown up in any of your neighbors’ gardens, contact the Cornell Police at 607-255-1111.

WHCU interviews Cornell Plantations director Don Rakow on the plant thefts.

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6 thoughts on “Plant thieves”

  1. It really does suck. I talked to Glenn, who maintains the vegetable garden, soon after it happened. He told me the number of plants taken from the cold frames would fill the bed of a large pickup! I had not heard about the big containers (or peat pots) going missing, but often wondered if anyone was ever tempted. Guess that was a stupid question.

  2. Well, for goodness sakes. I can’t believe this is happening. People just feel entitled to what ever they can carry away. I am so sorry to hear this. It makes me sick and sad.

  3. The lowest of the low. I have had more than a little experience with this problem. I would guess that the thefts are by one, maybe two people, and unfortunately it will be someone who is a plant person.

  4. Grrrr.

    The veggie thefts are one thing–I think that most people can ID a tomato plant–but I think you’d really have to know what you’re stealing to grab that little Japanese woodlander, for example. (Unless it was in bloom–then all bets are off, people will buy anything that’s in bloom at the garden center, so I’m sure that the same “logic” applies to stealing plants.)

    Have you been able to replace some of the veggie plants? We have some ‘Hillbilly’ and regular ‘Oxheart’ at the garden center… as well as a yellow plum (although I don’t know whether it’s your ‘Lemon’ one or not)…

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