Rare Plant Sold for Thousands of Dollars at Online Auction

Category: Lifestyle/Entertainment


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. variegated / ˈvɛər i ɪˌgeɪ tɪd / (adj) – having spots or marks with different colors

    The gardener specialized in growing plants with variegated leaves.

  2. drive (something’s) price up / draɪv praɪs ʌp / (idiom) – to cause the price of something to increase

    The popularity of the artist drove the painting’s price up.

  3. exclusivity / ˌɛk skluˈsɪv ɪ ti / (n) – the state of being available to only one or a few people

    The exclusivity of the golf club makes the membership fee expensive.

  4. horticulture / ˈhɔr tɪˌkʌl tʃər / (n) – the study or practice of growing plants

    Horticulture involves growing fruits, vegetables, and flowers.

  5. merely / ˈmɪər li / (adv) – just, only

    He won the competition merely out of luck.


Read the text below.

A rare houseplant was sold for more than $5,000 on an online bidding site.

An anonymous buyer from New Zealand bought a rare variegated houseplant from the online auction site Trade Me. The seller’s minimum price for the plant was only $1, but it was auctioned off for $5,291. According to reports, it was the most expensive plant ever sold on an auction site.

The seller’s description indicated that the auctioned item is a rare type of tropical plant species called Rhaphidophora tetrasperma, which is native to Southeast Asia. According to the listing, the houseplant is one-meter tall and continuously growing. The seller said that the rare plant’s unique coloring drove its price up.

Based on a report, people have been spending more money on houseplants during Covid-19 lockdowns. Many people, who often refer to themselves as “plant parents,” have turned to taking care of houseplants to cope with boredom or stress. Trade Me said that it recently sold one plant for $4,200 and another for more than $3,700.

According to one gardener, buying expensive plants is like collecting luxury bags because it creates a sense of exclusivity. Despite the trend, Dr. Bridget Behe, a professor and marketing expert in horticulture, explained that selling expensive plants is merely a matter of creating demand where supply is low.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

• Aside from a plant’s unique features, what other factors do you think would increase its value (e.g. medicinal properties, difficulty of growing)? Discuss.
• Do you think it is a good idea to spend thousands of dollars on a rare plant? Why or why not?

Discussion B

• Do you agree that buying expensive items creates a sense of exclusivity? Why or why not?
• What expensive item are you willing to buy? Why?