This was reported from the BBC News Channel:
Precious orchids stolen from park
Rare orchids have been stolen from the Peak District National Park countryside in Derbyshire.
The dark red Helleborine orchids were dug up from the Stoney Middleton area and experts say the theft could affect the biodiversity of the Peak District.
The orchids, which are 15-30cm (6-12in) tall, have a hairy stalk with up to 20 flowers which grow in rows on the stem.
Police have condemned the theft of the orchids, which are only found in five areas of the UK.
Pete Charleston, wildlife crime co-ordinator for Derbyshire Police, said: "Some people might be surprised to know that it is a crime to take plants from the countryside but these orchids are as much a part of our heritage as a painting in an art gallery and deserve protection too."
The orchids grow in open countryside, accessible to the public in the Peak District National Park.
One plant, which had about 10-15 orchids on it, was dug up by the thieves.
Natural environment team manager for the Peak District National Park Authority, Rhodri Thomas, said the stolen orchids were likely to die due to the difficulties of successfully transplanting rare plants.
"The actions of the thieves have damaged a nationally important wildlife site and put a rare plant under threat.
"Orchids are popular flowers but it is important that they are left to flourish in their natural environment - in this case the limestone area of the White Peak."
Police have asked anyone with information on the thefts to contact them.
Under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, it is an offense to pick rare plants.