Upon noticing the orchid missing, the owners of the nursery, in Yucheng, in eastern China's Shandong province, immediately called the police on Saturday.
An employee at the nursery told a local news portal that the new strain of orchid was "incredibly rare" and had taken eight years to cultivate, reports South China Morning Post. The orchid was "like a parent plant" from which other plants could be propagated, the employee was quoted as saying.
"We have orders totalling 20 million yuan from over 10 countries," the panicked employee said. "Without the 'parent', we won't be able to fulfil them and we'll lose all the money."
Fortunately, police were able to trace the woman, who was reportedly "surprised" at the commotion she had caused.
The woman explained that after buying the orchid, she saw another, which she assumed was priced the same, and simply exchanged the plants on her way out.
The owners of the nursery decided not to press charges against the woman since they got their precious orchid back.
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