By BECKY WILDT AND MEGAN McDONNELL
Capital News Service
LANSING — Poaching commonly brings to mind ivory tusks from protected African elephants or the silky fur of the endangered Bengal tiger. What’s often neglected is plant poaching — stealing rare and endangered plants from public lands for profit or for possession. In the Great Lakes region, some of the most commonly poached plants are goldenseal, American ginseng — and rare orchids. Goldenseal and American ginseng are valued due to medicinal claims. Rare orchids are valued by collectors for their beauty and scarcity. “Demand will make a market – it’s no different from drugs,” says Frank Telewski, curator of the W.J. Beal Botanical Gardens at Michigan State University.