Bad Seeds


The biggest black market you’ve never heard of is blooming right under your nose. Whether it’s a 4,000-pound cactus shoveled from the Arizona desert or delicate orchids pinched from the tangled jungle of Peru, rare plants are at the center of a rapidly growing and lucrative world of crime. Hosted by plant expert Summer Rayne Oakes, Bad Seeds plunges straight into it, featuring the buyers, the sellers, the obsessives, and those who came face-to-face with the criminals behind an underworld few know exist.

  • 2 minutes 57 seconds
    Check out the Growing Joy with Plants Podcast

    Hey! This is Summer Rayne Oakes, host of Bad Seeds. Our season is wrapped, but if you want even more plant content, I wanted to recommend another podcast that I love. 

    Growing Joy with Plants explores the plant person connection, and teaches you how to care for plants successfully and cultivate joy in your life by doing so. Click over to Growing Joy with Plants and subscribe, and take a listen to this short trailer to get to know Maria better. You can listen on Apple, Spotify, and follow Maria on Instagram

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    8 June 2023, 5:00 am
  • 40 minutes 23 seconds
    Episode 8: The Destroyer of Worlds

    In Bad Seeds, we’ve explored the crimes of obsessed hobbyists, of organized criminals, and even corrupt governments. But what about the elephant in the room? What about when the places entrusted to conserve flora are committing the crimes? And what about those risking everything… to protect plant-life and our planet?

    This is the last episode of Season 1. But! You can get more plant content by following host Summer Rayne Oakes on her YouTube channels Plant One on Me and Flock

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    31 May 2023, 5:00 am
  • 30 minutes 43 seconds
    Episode 7: The Tree That Bleeds

    Zambia is home to a rare and coveted rosewood called mukula, but the country has been losing its treeline for years. The Zambian government put regulations and penalties in place to stop the illegal logging of this vital resource, but still, the deforestation continued. So what was accounting for the rapid disappearance of mukula? One undercover investigation exposed a chain of corruption and fraud – leading all the way to the top of Zambia’s government.

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    24 May 2023, 5:00 am
  • 31 minutes 23 seconds
    Episode 6: The Gray Market

    Gibson is a favorite guitar brand for the stars. But in 2009, federal agents stormed one of its warehouses, looking for illegal goods. And what ensued was a years-long debate of government overreach versus environmental exploitation. 

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    17 May 2023, 7:00 am
  • 31 minutes 6 seconds
    Episode 5: Business Opportunities

    On November 25, 2019 in Tortugas Bay, six fishermen prepare their boat and begin motoring out onto the water. Their Destination? Isla de Cedros. What appears to be an innocent fishing trip will result in the deaths of two of these men. 

    In this episode, plant poaching collides with organized crime: how cartels, mobs, and criminal syndicates might be connected to some of your favorite plants.  

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    10 May 2023, 7:00 am
  • 31 minutes 34 seconds
    Episode 4: Charming Personalities

    In the Lonely Planet Guide, the editors provide one simple admonishment to travelers considering a journey to Panama’s Darien Gap: “Don’t even think about it!” But that didn’t deter English orchid enthusiast Tom Hart Dyke, who plunged into the forest in 2000 to see orchids – but ended up spending ten months in captivity. 

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    3 May 2023, 5:00 am
  • 34 minutes 10 seconds
    Episode 3: A Peculiar Hobby

    In 2014, five tourists traveled to the United States to marvel at cacti in the national parks. But when it becomes clear they’re doing more than just looking, U.S. Fish and Wildlife agents begin surveilling the suspects.

    In this episode, we examine how there’s a thin line between passion… and obsession. Is there a difference between overzealous collection and callous crime? And does your motivation – whether pure admiration or a paycheck – matter?

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    26 April 2023, 5:00 am
  • 27 minutes 38 seconds
    Episode 2: Plant Mania

    Philodendron Spiritus-Sancti is one of the rarest plants in the world. Many call it the “Holy Grail of Philodendrons.” In May 2020, the San Diego Botanic Garden had one of these plants as their centerpiece. But in the dead of night, it was stolen. 

    In this episode of Bad Seeds, a look inside a booming craze for houseplants and how a cultural obsession might be killing the things we love the most. 

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    19 April 2023, 5:00 am
  • 31 minutes 55 seconds
    Episode 1: Unscrupulous Collection

    In 2020, police in Italy raided an apartment in a small coastal town in the Adriatic. Inside it were one million euros worth of stolen goods. But Italian police didn’t find firearms, drugs, or other contraband; they found succulents. Specifically, 1,000 specimens of Copiapoa cacti, all stolen from the Atacama desert in Chile. 

    This is just one of many stories like this. There’s a growing black market that deals in stolen plants. Since the pandemic, theft of plants has become more rampant and more lucrative. Not only is it causing more crime, but this “unscrupulous collection” of plants is one of the leading causes of extinction among plants. And the loss of biodiversity takes its toll on all of us. Join plant expert and author Summer Rayne Oakes as she plunges into the world of plant poaching. 

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    12 April 2023, 5:00 am
  • 1 minute 51 seconds
    Introducing: Bad Seeds

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    5 April 2023, 5:01 am
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