Botanic Garden Plant Thefts


Security at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE) has been reviewed following the theft of rare plants. The indications are that particular plants – including alpines, begonias and ferns have been targeted.

These recent incidents have occurred in the Glasshouses, where horticulturists have reported plants showing indications of damage caused by the removal of cuttings. It is believed these cuttings could have been taken by someone with horticultural knowledge, by the way the cuttings were taken and by recognising plant material that is not readily available commercially. 

Such incidents are particularly sensitive in an organisation where the prime motivation is to grow plant material for research, conservation and education purposes: and which adheres to strict regulations regarding the non-commercial nature of elements of  its priceless living collection.

However, substantial efforts are also made to engage with the public by creating attractive, natural looking landscapes to be enjoyed by all ages. While there is a desire to display as diverse a range of plants as possible and to highlight what plants the scientists in the Garden are working on, there are concerns that such on-going loss of plant material could restrict the range of species put on public display. This is an option RBGE will hope to avoid, in the interests of the majority of visitors and plant enthusiasts who come to the Garden to enjoy the spectacle of rare and unusual plants. 

While the recent spate of thefts has necessitated increased cctv coverage of particularly vulnerable areas of the 72-acre Garden, staff are keen to speak to visitors and explain what sets RBGE – and other leading botanic gardens around the world - apart from typical visitor attractions.

We would ask visitors to approach staff if they believe they have witnessed suspicious behaviour.

Police Scotland are aware of the situation.

The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh is a charity (registration number SC007983)