Dumb Tourist Trick #6 (or it may have been a dumb local person trick). I had gone to the Smokies to photograph the Puttyroot orchids I had seen in bud 2 weeks earlier; I was furious when I went to the site and all I found were 2 holes!!! Some moron plant poacher had dug both of the plants! Needless to say, it is against the law to remove plants from the park. I have seen tourists with trunk-loads of plants and carrying boxes of plants down the trails in the Smokies. Much to my husband's chagrin, the foolish people get a piece of my mind! One woman had a box of plants she was carrying down the Chimney Tops trail a few years ago. I said, "Lady, if you don't want to ruin your vacation, you'd better put those plants back, there's a ranger in the parking lot who will fine you if he sees you with them!" Her reply was, "Well, there are so many plants, I didn't think it would be a problem." I answered, "We have 9 million visitors a year here. If all of them took plants, we wouldn't have any left. Besides that, it's against the law to remove plants!"
Orchids take several years to grow to blooming size. Never buy a wild orchid, it has most likely been poached in the woods.