quot;-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd">
Gardeners are being warned to be vigilant after a rare type of orchid was stolen from the Peak District National Park.
The crime occurred some time between July 16th and July 23rd and authorities are concerned that the theft could have an impact on the biodiversity of the area.
The Dark Red Helleborines were dug up from the Stoney Middleton area and are considered extremely rare, with only five areas of growth in the UK.
Peak District National Park Authority natural environment team manager Rhodri Thomas explained that the flowers have been a rarity since the 60s when mineral extraction lead to a dramatic drop in numbers.
"The actions of the thieves have damaged a nationally important wildlife site and put a rare plant under further threat," she said.
"Orchids are popular flowers but it is important that they are left to flourish in their natural environment – in this case the limestone area of the White Peak."
It is considered a crime to take any plant from the countryside as they are considered as much a part of national culture as artwork or sculptures in galleries, explained Derbyshire Constabulary wildlife crime coordinator Pete Charleston.
Unfortunately, the stolen flowers are unlikely to survive, wherever they are, because they are notoriously difficult to transplant.