Legal vs. Illegal Paphs

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Jun 6, 2006
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Sacramento, CA. Outside w/ Southeast Exposure
Perhaps we should start a list so that people know what the status is.

I'll start but please add to the list and correct me if I am wrong.


helenae (from Antec with certificates)
vietnamense (with proof of Antec's growing)
adductum var. anitum (from what I understand this is back to just a variety of adductum?)

Still illegal:


What's the status of ooii?
actually, i'm fairly sure i've heard of at least some plants of Paph ooii being legally imported by the guy after whom it's named....
Someone was selling them on OrchidMall a few weeks ago. Ooii, that is.

First of all, it should be kept in mind that this list is only for those of us in the USA. The US Fish and Wildlife takes a different interpretation of CITES than other countries. In Australia, for example, anything grown from a flask is legal, if I'm not mistaken. In the US, though, flask grown plants are only legal if the parent plants were also legal.

As such, most of the Vietnamese species that were discovered in the 1990s and later are illegal, including:

Paph coccineum (bargiberum var. lockianum?), Paph hermannii, Paph hangianum, Paph jackii/hiepii, Paph vietnamense (except the plants released by Antec and their progeny, if there are any), Paph helenae (except those from Antec), Paph dalatense, Paph aspersum, Paph tranlienianum, and maybe others that I can't think of.

I'm not sure which species from the Philippines and Indonesia are still illegal. gigantifolium is certainly available from a couple of US vendors, and USFW is apparently treating anitum as adductum var. anitum, which gives it the same legal status as adductum.

I've spoken to Michael Ooi about Paph ooii, and they will be legal as soon as he is able to propagate a sufficient number to export, if I understood correctly. I'd be surprised if those for sale on the OrchidMall were legal, but I didn't see them, so I don't know :)

- Matt
Basically any paph species imported without CITES paperwork is illegal. The Vietnamese species come to mind because Vietnam has not legally exported any of these plants. If the government of Vietnam doesn't issue the proper documents, then the species is illegal in the USFW's eyes. Other countries are creating sib crosses and hybrids from species without documentation from the country of origin, but even the flasks can't be legally imported into the U.S.

It would be nice if we could all play to the same set of rules.....
Really, the Vietnamese plants are the problem in terms of Vietnam is, as far as I know, not a CITES all of their plants are considered illegal, even if flasked (that said, I did hear about a supposedly CITES approved flask of hangianum...), as their parents can't be proved to be legally obtained and propagated...but this is also only for the US, as it is the interpretation of the USFW ("fruit of the poisoned tree"). Plants coming from other areas can be approved, if they have been grown in flask, hence the legal for anitum or ooii on Orchid Mall, there is a guy named Djony Panger who posts on the "Unclassifieds" who send plants from Indonesia. These are collected plants, grown in cultivation for a season or 2, then sent off without any CITES certification. These are clearly illegal plants, even the species he sells that are otherwise legally available, like sangii. Take care, Eric
paphreek said:
For the record, I just wanted to make sure we are using the correct terminology, here. These orchids should not be referred to as "illegal orchids", but rather "undocumented orchids".:poke:

We have the same terminology situation with illegal or undocumented aliens.
The bottom line is they don't have the proper documents to be here legally.
Of course, both immigrants and orchids still sneak in.....
Heather, and rest. Please resist the urge to play policeman. You are wrong in assuming AnTec is the ONLY outfit working to bring in Paphs (or other CITES genera) into USA following proper LEGAL procedures. Most of the " Legal" P. helenae came in through Paphanatics, though AnTec has their own independant effort. There are others currently working with USFW who because the process is not complete would like to stay off discussion boards. There ARE a few legal gigantifolium, helenae, possibly hangianum and most of the others listed, but for various reason the half dozen firms that have been able to navigate the byzyntine mine field USFW set up they currently want to remain quiet. Making blanket statements that ALL of one thing or another are illegal is not helpful. Please don't make LISTS, because they WILL be wrong, and can damage the efforts of people legally working in the system.
. As a separate related issue, that did not come up here in this thread, but has been seen on this disccusion board in the past: If you are not on the USFW payroll, please don't take on the roll of a USFW deputy. Firstly, without legal status, the people you challenge don't have to respond, and second, you are not protected by any sort of professional malpractice if you are wrong in the accusations. Only a deputized officer has immunity for errors and omissions in regards to accusations and sanctions. If you are not on the government payroll, don't take the slander and libel risk for them.

For what ever it is worth.

This is a point well taken. I imagine that you're right... there may be other people who are quietly, legally importing these Vietnamese species, though I don't know how, considering Vietnam's reluctance to issue export documents. This list, however, was not intended to defame any particular vendor (except Chinese Green, and I have plenty of evidence to avoid libel charges in that case) or other person who may be growing these species.

This post is in the "Beginner's Corner", and is simply meant to protect those who may not know which species they should be careful about buying. Unfortunately, all of these species are illegally available in the US, and in fact, are pretty common on the black market... and it is MUCH more likely that a newcomer to orchids will come across an illegal Paph hangianum than a legal one from the few people who have them (if indeed some people do have them legally).

So, that said, take my previous post with a grain of salt... some of these species may be legally available, but make sure that you can protect yourself if you buy them.

- Matthew Gore
I think the problem is w/ acquiring something ripped out of the forest versus something cultured and bred by growers but not accepted in the eyes of our gorvernment. Wasn't CITES supposed to be international? If so why aren't the controls applied equally. Even Canadians can get plant the USA can't.
NYEric said:
Even Canadians can get plant the USA can't.
Since CITES signatories are free to interpret it any way they like, the USA has laws that say that the parents of the plant must be artificially propagated, too.
Yes, us Canadians have access to pretty much all the new things. If it's in flask, we can import it. I'm going to buy a flask of hangianum at the Vancouver show (if the taiwanese vendor ever emails me back...) Prices for the new things are also very reasonable.

I am the newcomer who orginally asked the question as to which paphs were legal to own and which weren't. I certainly don't want to purchase or own a plant that was obtained illegally or does not have the proper documentation in the US. That said, it is necessary for a novice to have an idea of which species must be purchased with a certain amount of caution. I don't wish to damage the efforts of the folks working leagally within the system, on the other hand I need to know whats legal, what is not and which plants require documentation. This was a very novice question that was not meant to negatively affect anyone. The replies I have received have been very helpful.
Thank you, Sarah
I'm a little concerned we are scaring the newcomers away from any paph species. Rest assured, there are very few 'illegal' species and you really have to search them out. They will be expensive, too. Growing species paphs is fun and rewarding, please buy lots of species.

I think the practical consideration as a newcomer is that you should never buy a species that is unusually expensive. For several reasons. It is expensive because a) it is hard to grow, or b) it is impossible to grow, or c) it shouldn't be grown because the provenance is questionable, or d) the provenance is impeccable, and hence it costs a fortune. Or perhaps e) several of the above and it takes 10 years to bloom, to boot.

In all these cases, chances are good you risk killing an expensive plant before you ever see any flowers. And that isn't what we grow slippers for, we grow them to get some pretty flowers. Get some experience with the easier species under your belt, and by then you will probably have a good idea what is 'legal' and what isn't.

Of course the best way to figure this out is to ask the vendor. If they are selling an illegal plant, they probably won't sell it to you after you ask... Or they are proud of the fact that it is wild collected and will tell you all about how they got it back from Vietnam wrapped up in their dirty underwear. Just seeing it sold openly is a good sign, most people aren't stupid enough to sell contraband in public. By far the vast majority of species paphs you will ever see for sale in the USA are legal, and the person selling it will be able to satisfy your need for information.
littlefrog said:
Or they are proud of the fact that it is wild collected and will tell you all about how they got it back from Vietnam wrapped up in their dirty underwear.

So the brown stuff on my micranthum might not have been mud????

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