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Sustainably Collecting Rare Plants

As plant ownership grows around the world, so does our desire to bring the strange, the wonderful, and the ultra-rare into our homes as part of our collections. Unfortunately, this has led to a startling rise in plant poaching from native environments. And nowhere is this more troubling than in the poaching of rare, slow-growing plants like cacti and succulents.

Some species of cacti are so uniquely attuned to their surroundings that they only occur in one place on Earth, smaller than a square mile.

In Chile, the Copiapoa genus occurs in the coastal Atacama Desert, where it collects fog on its bristles to sustain itself.

Copiapoa humilis is a rare collector cactus listed in CITES Appendix II. Its trade is controlled and regulated to sustain the species.

Plants like this grow extremely slowly, and a healthy species can number only in the hundreds, due to their localized nature. For this reason, any removal of a specialized plant runs the risk of harming the species as a whole.

At Tula, we're in the business of supporting plant life. For that reason, we take steps to ensure the plants we sell are sustainably cultivated. As a USDA permit-holding business, we source plants from greenhouses that follow CITES regulations.

CITES is an agreement between 183 governments across the globe, of which the US is one. Its aim is to ensure trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten the survival of the species. For plant trade, this typically means that the greenhouses and collectors we source our plants from do not poach specimens from the wild, but practice sustainable growing from seed or propagation, often generations in the making.

Growing cacti and succulents takes patience, but many are relatively easy to propagate from cuttings, pups, and seeds.

Instead of bringing plants in from the wild, growers are able to propagate from mature mother plants they already have. In this way, plants that occur in the wild that are sold at Tula perpetuate a species that may occur in the wild, but the particular specimens never existed in their native habitats.

We love talking about where a plant is from at Tula, to learn more about the vital beauty of our planet, our home. To understand what makes each plant thrive. To imagine bringing a little bit of a far-off place to our windowsill. At the same time, we are incredibly thankful that we are able to bring these stunning, living beauties into our homes without disturbing the ecosystems that originated them. 

As plant lovers, it's vital that we raise awareness about the threats of plant poaching. And as plant owners, we must always ensure the plants we purchase arrive at our door sustainably, so the incredible biodiversity of our planet does not dwindle, but grow. 

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