Rare houseplant sells for $23,400 at auction

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Many people have adopted plant babies during the pandemic, but a green thumb’s rare potted foliage sparked a bidding war before being sold for thousands of dollars on a New Zealand auction site.

The houseplant, a “very rare white variegated Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma,” with just nine leaves sold last Sunday for a whopping $23,400 ($27,100 NZD) on Trade Me.

Typically, the Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma, also known as Mini Monstera, has green leaves. But what makes this plant rare is its variegation, or the different colours in its leaves due to cell mutation.

The plant garnered 248 bids and even sparked a last-minute bidding frenzy between two interested buyers.

“After a heated bidding war in the auction’s final minutes, the rare plant had over 102,000 views and more than 1,600 watchlists, which just goes to show how much Kiwis adore houseplants,” Trade Me spokesperson Millie Silvester said in statement to CNN.

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It’s the most expensive houseplant ever sold on the website, Silvester said, noting that the average price of an indoor houseplant has gone up since May 2019.

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“Houseplants have become the ‘it’ item over the last couple of years, we’ve seen prices creep up and up as more Kiwis jump on this new trend,” she said.

The seller identifed as “Hurley88” described the prized specimen on the website as a plant with “8 leaves with the 9th just about to uncurl. Each leaf has excellent variegation as does the stem and is well rooted in a 14cm pot.”

This isn’t the first time a houseplant has sold for thousands of dollars on the auction site. The same seller also listed a variegated Monstera plant that sold for $5,670 ($6,551 NZD) late last year.

In August, an anonymous buyer paid $7,055 ($8,150 NZD) for a “varigated Minima” on the same website.

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