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Design Crime! People Are Smuggling Succulents Now

If only hipsters had stuck to their handlebar mustaches and craft beer, this never would have happened.

Design Crime! People Are Smuggling Succulents Now
[Photo: Flickr user John Rusk]
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Succulents are so popular that poachers are stealing them. More than 3,500 of California’s flower-shaped dudleya plants have been recovered in the last year alone.

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[Photo: CDFW]

Why? This understated interior design icon of American millennials has become the must-have accessory for Asia’s middle class across China, Japan, and Korea.  According to a report in the Guardian, this so-called “succulent fever” has led the California Department of Fish and Wildlife to fend off a new wave of succulent poachers who have been scaling the cliffs of California’s coastline to collect the plants because when shipped overseas, they fetch a price starting at $40.

[Photo: Flickr user John Rusk]

Succulents are low-maintenance plants that aren’t actually all that difficult to grow in a greenhouse, but unlike your typical small plant, they take a few years to reach their desired maturation. Since trends go viral faster than succulents grow, Asian plant suppliers need time to ramp up their own supply chains.

For now, California volunteers are replanting dudleya succulents across their state. And maybe the next time hipsters champion an icon of greenery, it can be something more immediately replicable: Like petunias, bamboo, or a good old spider plant.

About the author

Mark Wilson is a senior writer at Fast Company who has written about design, technology, and culture for almost 15 years. His work has appeared at Gizmodo, Kotaku, PopMech, PopSci, Esquire, American Photo and Lucky Peach

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