Rare Anthurium seeds for bid on eBay - BEWARE!

lariann(z10 FL)October 20, 2007

Fellow Aroiders,

Recently I became informed that a certain vendor is on eBay listing and trying to sell a great variety of aroid seeds, many of them Anthurium, and many of those very rare, or even nonexistent in botanical garden collections! This person alleges that they obtain their seeds from a supplier in south Africa, and the eBay seller is allegedly operating from Turkey. For any of you who have seen this person's eBay pages, I am providing this cautionary information.

I provide the link below for educational purposes, I advise strongly AGAINST placing a bid on any of these listings. I explain why below.

Many of you know I do a lot of aroid breeding, and have done so since the 1980s. Thus I have learned a lot about the viability and proper care of seeds from Alocasia, Anthurium, Philodendron, Amorphophallus and Caladium over the years. The most important thing I've learned is that many, if not all, of these seeds have short viabilities even under the best of conditions. Therefore I can state categorically that even if the seeds this person is selling are the real McCoy, the chances of any buyer receiving a shipment of viable seeds from this person are slim and none.

Some of the plants listed are so rare that many botanical gardens and conservatories do not even have representatives of these plants in their collections! Even those who do have these plants find it very challenging to get seed set, and if they did, they would not be placing them on eBay for sale. Instead, they would grow the seeds on here in the USA and keep the plants for further work or distribution to reputable institutions or collectors.

Think about it mathematically; if the seeds originate in south Africa, they have to be harvested there then shipped to Turkey. Assuming they are harvested fresh and IMMEDIATELY shipped, figure 5 to 10 days to Turkey! Then, once in Turkey, this person puts the offer on eBay and there's another 5 or 6 days at least for bidding to proceed. Next, once the bidding is complete, the buyer has to pay and the order has to ship, figure another 5 to 10 days before the buyer actually receives the seeds in question. With aroid seeds, they will be lucky to get anything recognizable as a seed in their shipment, much less anything viable.

The pictures make it really tempting to try to get the seeds. But I say, let the buyer REALLY beware on this one! Besides that, you can look at pictures of the same plants on the Intenational Aroid Society website and discover that this vendor has pirated those pictures!

The funny part is that since Anthurium plantlets look very similar one to another when small, and since there is no reference set of pictures of little seedlings one can consult to verify the specific status of a particular seedling, that means that even if the seeds are viable, the buyer won't know for certain that they've been scammed until a year or two has elapsed. By then the seller will be long gone with their money.

Finally, I feel strongly that we in the USA shouldn't be selling any Anthurium seed or plants to people in Indonesia or the tropical Far East anyway, for several very important reasons. One reason is that Indonesia is a tropical area where these plants could become naturalized, and these plants are not native there; if they escape, one or more of them could have a deleterious effect on the native flora, either through introduction of associated pests or through competitive pressures, or both.. Another is that if we cannot get plants freely from them due to CITES and other regulations, then they should be under the same strict limitations as we are, and not be able to get our plants freely either.

LariAnn Garner

Aroidia Research

Here is a link that might be useful: eBay sale page - rare seeds

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For any of you tempted to bid on any of these seeds on eBay, PLEASE BE AWARE!! Anthurium species ARE NOT found outside Mexico, Central America, South America and the West Indies. They do not grow naturally anywhere, I repeat ANYWHERE, in the Pacific, Indian Ocean, Asia, or Africa. Recently someone paid over $1200 on eBay for 40 seeds of an "unknown" species "collected" in the Philippines. THERE ARE NO ANTHURIUM SPECIES THAT GROW NATURALLY IN THE PHILIPPINES!

The seller mentioned by LariAnn is likely working an intricate hoax. Almost every single photograph used on those listings was stolen from some one's website. The majority were taken directly from the International Aroid Society website! This seller does not appear to even have the parent plants!

Now, I do not wish to condemn all the aroid sellers on eBay! There are good ones on there, and a few are selling seeds. Look at their feedback rating and how long they have been selling. You can likely trust those people.

But, if you place a bid for "seeds" from this person with no track record and living in a part of the world where Anthurium species do not grow, what will you receive, if anything? You might get "an" Anthurium seed. But will it be the seed you paid for? Unless you are trained and are a botanist, you can't tell one species apart from another by looking at the seeds! And will those seeds even be viable (alive)? And if you pay a bunch of money for 5 or 10 seeds what are the chances any will be viable? Nill! Nada! Next to zero! It will take you up to three years to know for certain what species you are growing. In the meantime this seller will be long gone with your money! Almost all Anthurium seedlings look just alike and you won't be able to identify those that survive, if any survive, for years!

I receive seeds from South America quite often. It takes 5 to 10 days to get to me from South America. Normally, only 10% of those seeds are viable (alive). They just don't travel well. And for those of you that have been trying to buy 10,000 seeds at one time, is it going to be worth anything to you if only a few of those seeds produce anything? Listen to LariAnn! Anthurium seeds don't last very long after they are produced on the spadix! No one is ever going to buy 10,000, not even 1,000, viable seeds at one time!

Is the price of the gamble worth the gamble and the loss of your money???

Here is a link that might be useful: The ExoticRainforest

    Bookmark   October 20, 2007 at 12:57PM
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bihai(zone 9)

Have you noted that there are some anthuriums on sale now on eBay, one with a bid up to over $2700?
One of the plants that is up to over $250, I bought for $25. Its not the vendor's fault...they started the bid out very reasonable for both. I have been told that there are collectors in Indonesia that are buying rare and semi rare anthuriums and paying loads of cash for them, and for the seeds. A very common birdsnest type just sold for big bucks because it had a seed scape attached.

    Bookmark   October 20, 2007 at 1:10PM
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We're all seeing that. I know some of the sellers who are benefiting from this craze in Indonesia, so I can't fault them at all for taking the cash. Especially since they sell quality products. But here is the big problem:

If we sell seeds to Indonesia some of those plants may be turned loose in the wild. We have no way of knowing how plants from the Americas will compete in the wild with native species. The end could be catastrophic for Indonesian native species. Not good for the environment!

If someone over there manages to get their "10,000 seeds" of very rare plants they will soon crash the market in Indonesia on that species. The market will nosedive. It is simply the law of supply and demand! And then what are they going to do with all those plants? Well, they are going to try to sell them on eBay! And all the good sellers in the US are going to be hurt badly. It will be just like Anthurium veitchii. Four years ago one would cost at least $100. Today big growers are letting enormous plants go for $10! They can't sell them! Tissue culture has crashed the market.

As for the "nuts" spending huge sums on seeds, the big dollar ones were seeds that were supposedly wild collected in the Philippines! There are no wild Anthurium species in the Philippines! Someone may have grown an Anthurium there, and may have produced seeds, but they can't even name the species! Are the seeds of a hybrid actually worth that kind of money? If you pay $50 per seed the chances are you are going to get way less than half that are viable. So now you've paid $100 OR MORE, per seed! It will take two to three years to get the plant to a saleable size. Can you make enough on a plant with no species name in two or three years to justify your investment? The odds are vastly against you!

And there is another problem to consider. The seller in Turkey is charging $1 to ship those "seeds". I personally doubt they even have seeds, but if they do, and they ship them for $1 in a plain envelope, those seeds are going to be crushed in the rollers of the mail system! So you just bid on a pile of mush!

Several of the plants offered are not even in the collections of major botanical gardens in this country! I personally know one major aroid botanist who is in Ecuador right now trying to find one of those species! It exists, but almost no one has a specimen! How in the world did this person in Turkey get seeds of an Anthurium that rare?

If anyone is tempted to give that person, or any unknown Anthurium seed seller, a lot of money for a few seeds! I've got a bridge in New York City I'll sell you quite cheaply! Just think how much money you could make charging tolls to cross that bridge! And I promise, my bridge offer is a better bet than buying Anthurium seeds from Turkey!

    Bookmark   October 20, 2007 at 1:47PM
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Frankly I, as a buyer of Anthuriums trying to increase my personal collection am fed up with eBay.

A few years ago when I began to collect Aroids, I was able to win auctions with reasonable bids. Now it is impossible to do so with these folks from Indonesia driving up the prices.

I have given up on finding good deals on eBay for now and look to local reputable sellers instead.

    Bookmark   October 20, 2007 at 5:21PM
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And that is one fine post!!! And I don't sell anything! It is nuts when someone will pay $2700 for 40 seeds of an "unknown" species collected in a country 7000 miles away from where Anthurium grow naturally! And it is a bit strange to pay %750 for a plant you can often find for $20 (well, when they were available) in Florida!

Look for the good sellers. Ask any member of the International Aroid Society. They will gladly give you good advice!

Here is a link that might be useful: Aroid l

    Bookmark   October 20, 2007 at 8:50PM
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That was supposed to be $750 per plant!

    Bookmark   October 20, 2007 at 10:18PM
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For anyone out there still tempted to bid on these supposed "seeds" of "rare" Anthurium, I'd like to share with you my exchange of email with the seller. But first, a bit of background. There is at least one plant on the list of plants being offered that is so rare many have been searching for it for almost 20 years! The photo used was stolen (along with many others) from the International Aroid Society website. This seller is offering 5 "seeds" for about $2 as an opening bid! I'm not going to tell you which plant, but if you've followed my by website you can figure it out. The plant was once on the cover of the International Aroid Society journal and many of us have been trying to find it for years! A botanist is in South America right now looking for the specimen since new information recently became available. And this seller supposedly has seeds of this very rare Anthurium for $2.00???

The seller has now admitted they don't even have any of the seeds offered!

Here is the email exchange:

I asked via eBay email: "I noticed you illegally stole the photo of this plant and many others from the International Aroid Society website. Your infraction has been reported to the officers of the society. I'm curious, do you even know this species is extremely rare? Do you know that there is not a botanical garden in the Unites States that even has one? Do you have this plant? Where did you possibly get seeds of a plant this rare? Makes me wonder? Are you even legitimate? I think I'll report this to eBay as well. Right now!"

And the seller responded:

Actually the seeds are at US. I am just a trader not a botanic expert. I buy several seeds through internet and again sell them. The photos and descriptions were sent by the seller. I'm aware of the photos but the seller says that we are not selling mother plants just seeds so the photos are for just to give an idea of the plant, what the buyer should expect from the seeds. Thank you for your interest.
Kind Regards, ladybotany"

Some of this sellers offerings are now up into the hundreds of dollars for 5 "seeds"! Seeds that are likely nothing more than "make believe". Seeds the seller admits they don't even have! So, is anyone foolish enough to bid on seeds the seller admits they don't have? Seeds, some of which are so rare botanical gardens can't get them? From a seller who admits they know nothing about Anthurium species but still calls themselves "ladybotany"? From a seller who will steal photographs in order to make the sale of "seeds" from plants they don't even possess? From a seller that uses a Hotmail address to cover their tracks? From a seller who is not even charging enough in postage to safely pack and ship any seeds at all? From a seller whose only feedback is from things they've purchased, never sold??

If you are still willing to bid on any of these "seeds", I've got a bridge in New York City I'll sell you cheap! You could make a fortune charging tolls to cross that bridge!

This smells exactly like a cleverly disguised scam! And the seller didn't even do enough homework to be clever! This offering is obviously aimed at the people of Indonesia who are willing to pay very high prices for Anthurium plants and seeds. What was it P.T. Barnham supposedly said about a "sucker born every minute"? This one is looking for a bunch of suckers. And they will probably find them unless eBay stops this entire mess! Buyer beware!!

    Bookmark   October 21, 2007 at 4:56AM
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At least four people I know of who had their photographs stolen reported the violation to eBay. Former and current officers of the International Aroid Society also filed complaints. Rather than act, eBay sent a form note back to everyone basically saying they weren't going to do anything about the violation. So, it appears those who choose to break the law win again. Some of these auctions have already ended and more end today. Some people will be paying upwards of $150 for 5 seeds of who knows what! In the opinion of the majority of members of the IAS, there is little possible way anyone will actually received what they are bidding on. But by the time they figure out they have been cheated, the seller will be long gone with the money.

Personally, I now have zero faith in eBay's pledge to protect the rights of those who own copyrighted material. Looks like they simply enjoy the money they make off listing fees, commissions and PayPal fees too much. Good luck if you chose to buy some of these "seeds".

    Bookmark   October 22, 2007 at 4:38PM
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Well, I hereby publicly apologize to eBay. They just took down over 100 of these auctions! Apparently someone finally read all the emails from the members of the International Aroid Society. Thank you eBay!

    Bookmark   October 22, 2007 at 6:40PM
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While I recognize that we are talking about obviously fraudulent eBay auctions, I would like to point out that there are sellers with excellent reputations for supplying healthy, high-quality plants who have been offering seeds of various Anthurium species. Those auctions seem to be legit. I just received A. clarinervium and A. clavigerum seeds from eBay seller noveltyg. The clarinervium seeds were still in the berries and the clavigerum seeds were packed in moist paper towels. I have no reason to believe the seeds will not be viable. No doubt there's some shady sellers out there, but let's just be sure we're not painting everyone with the same brush.

    Bookmark   November 4, 2007 at 9:50PM
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bihai(zone 9)

Excellent point, monkey toes. Noveltytg is a great seller, with a great reputation, as is gypsytropicals, Natural Selections Exotics, and Brian's Botanicals.
There's bound to be less than stellar sellers on eBay or anywhere else, some people are also downright dishonest, but not everyone is and that distinction needs to be made.

    Bookmark   November 5, 2007 at 7:40AM
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Beware this seller is back on ebay, selling all kinds of seeds. Has operated under the name of ladybotany, 5eeds, and various others. Recently trying to sell load of rare Turkish Salvias, and Orchids. One lot of "Salvia" seeds posted was bindweed! Just beware of any seller from Ankara in Turkey!

    Bookmark   January 17, 2008 at 7:47AM
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