Hipsters… is there anything they can’t ruin? They may have liked your music before it was cool, but they also liked the dudleya, a succulent native to California. While they aren’t a rare plant, they can take years to grow commercially. That’s a problem for several markets throughout Asia where the plant has become the new “gotta have it” thing for housewives in China, Korea, and Japan. They have become so popular that the plants are now fetching up to $50 a piece on the market.

Where there’s money to be made, there are usually douchebags not that far behind. That explains the new epidemic that officials in California are noticing as “poachers” are heading into the wild to yank the plants out of the ground by the thousands. In a series of recent busts have resulted in several arrests of poachers and the recovery of nearly 4,000 Dudleya that were headed for Asia. That’s over $200,000 in plants.

The problem here is that this is more than just theft. Removal of the succulents can result in environmental degradation of habitat and a destabilization of bluffs and cliffs on the coastline according to experts. The good news is that the plants are hearty and staff members from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife have already replanted over 2,000 Dudleyas on the cliffs and bluffs where they belong.

Source: Inhabitat