A houseplant with just nine leaves has sold for a record-breaking $19,297 on a New Zealand auction site.
Bids for the “very rare white variegated Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma” closed Sunday night, rising in the last four minutes as bidder “foliage_patch” battled the eventual winner, tagged “meridianlamb.”
Trade Me spokesperson Millie Silvester told CNN that the plant was “the most expensive houseplant ever sold” on the auction site.
“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,” she said in a statement emailed to CNN.
In New Zealand dollars, the bid was $27,100. Silvester said the average price for an indoor plant on Trade Me had jumped from 34 NZD in May 2019 to 82 NZD last month with rare varieties commanding “massive prices.”
“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.
“This plant has 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,” the description for the Rhapidophora Tetrasperma provided by seller “Hurley88” reads.
“Variegation” refers to two or more different colors in the leaves of the plant.
Rhapidophora Tetrasperma is native to Thailand and Malaysia, according to the Royal Gardens at Kew’s online plant register.
Hurley88 said the condition of this specimen was “used” and that pickup from its location in New Zealand’s biggest city, Auckland, was preferred.
There were 248 bids for the plant.
Late last year, the same seller listed a variegated Monstera plant on Trade Me that sold for 6,551 NZD, promising 1,000 NZD of the proceeds to charity.