Collecting plants may be giving us a source of calm and joy in these stressful times—and also a source of living for many entrepreneurs. But that’s no excuse to be irresponsible in our use of natural resources.
Noting the growing number of plant sellers and collectors in the Philippines and reports of plant poaching, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has issued a warning against the “collection of plants that are naturally sprouting in the wild or in its rainforest environment, specially within the protected areas.”
The country’s flora species—like our wild animals—are protected by RA 9147 or the “Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act,” which makes it illegal to remove, possess, trade or transport them, most especially the threatened ones.
Violators can face imprisonment from six to 12 years and a fine of P100,000 to P1,000,000 as specified under the law.
Below are ten of the most common plant species that are illegally collected from the wild, according to the DENR and Anson Tagtag, wildlife conservation section chief at the Biodiversity Management Bureau.
The complete list of plants that are prohibited for collection can be found in DENR Administrative Order No. 2017-11 or https://cutt.ly/DENRThreatenedPHPlants.
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Platycerium grande, commonly known as ‘kapa de leon’, ‘dapong repolyo’, and ‘giant staghorn fern,’ is endemic in Mindanao and categorized as critically endangered.Photo by Marija Gajić on Wikimedia Commons
Dubbed as the “Queen of Philippine Orchids,” the waling-waling flower is worshipped by the indigenous Bagobo tribes in Mindanao as deity.Photo from Wikimedia Commons
Tiger orchid is named as such due to the tiger-like markings on its leaves. This critically endangered plant species is native to the Philippines and is usually found in southern Luzon and Eastern Visayas.Photo by Bernard Dupont on Wikimedia Commons
Alocasia micholitziana or velvet gabi is endemic to Luzon, particularly in the areas of Apayao, Benguet, and Ifugao. It has arrow-shaped velvety leaves and creamy white veins.Photo by Dinkum on Wikimedia Commons
Alocasia zebrina is found in the rainforests of Luzon at elevations of 330 to 1,300 feet. The name "zebrina" was granted as a result of the pattern on the petiole which collectors commonly incorrectly refer to as a "stem."Photo by David J. Stang
Alocasia sanderiana is also known as the kris plant because of the resemblance of its leaf edges to the wavy blade of the kalis dagger (also known as kris or keris).Photo by Yercaud Elango on Wikimedia Commons
Due to its popularity and high value among bonsai enthusiasts, Pemphis acidula or bantigue is among the list of species classified as threatened by the DENR. Photo by Akos Kokai on Wikimedia Commons
Hoya is also known as shooting star, wax flower, wax vine or wax plant. It is usually a climbing or trailing plant with thick, shiny, fleshy leaves and clusters of waxy star-shaped flowers.Photo from from Philippine Hoya Conservation Group
Lady’s slipper orchid (paphiopedilum philippinense stein) grows in low to medium elevation forests and limestone hills, usually found in Rizal, Bicol Provinces, Guimaras, Negros, Palawan, Agusan, and Surigao. Tip of the flower is yellow with prominent dark purple stripes. Photo by Orchi on Wikimedia Commons
Pitcher plants are sought by many because its leaves trap and drown insects in its deep cavity filled with nectar.Photo by Kleo Marlo Sialongo on Wikimedia Commons