John Laroche

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John Laroche
Born (1962-02-19) February 19, 1962 (age 56)

John Edward Laroche (born February 19, 1962 in Florida) is an American horticulturist who was arrested for poaching wild ghost orchids while working for the Seminole natives in the Fakahatchee Strand State Preserve in Florida.[1] The subsequent trial brought him to the attention of Susan Orlean who wrote an article for The New Yorker[2] and the book The Orchid Thief about him.[1]


Laroche's defense was a loophole in the law that he claimed allowed the Seminole natives to remove endangered species from the swamp.[2] He accepted a plea deal that resulted in his being sentenced to six months' probation and a fine.[2]

Laroche spoke about the situation in an interview with The New Yorker:

I figured that we'd get what we needed out of the Fakahatchee and at the same time we'd bring so much attention to the law that the legislature would change it. I timed it so that it would be in time for the legislative session. That's what I want to say in court. I want to say that the state needs to protect itself.[2]

In popular culture[edit]

A fictionalized version of him was played by American actor Chris Cooper in the film Adaptation,[3] a portrayal that earned Cooper an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.


  1. ^ a b "In Pursuit of a criminal and his breathtaking quarry". The Boston Globe. Archived from the original on November 23, 2005. Retrieved September 28, 2010.
  2. ^ a b c d Orlean, Susan. "Orchid Fever". Retrieved September 28, 2010.
  3. ^ "Adaptation". The Sydney Morning Herald. December 21, 2002. Retrieved September 28, 2010.