Caladium plants for sale at a nursery in Sungai Besar, outside Kuala Lumpur on March 8, 2021 ( AFP / MOHD RASFAN)

Photos of 'China caladium price manipulation' taken in United States

Copyright AFP 2017-2021. All rights reserved.

Facebook posts shared thousands of times purport to show photos of fields of colourful caladiums in China, accusing the country of manipulating the price of the popular houseplant. The claim is misleading; the pictures were taken in the US state of Florida and AFP found no credible media reports of Chinese caladium price fixing.

"Don't follow the craze of caladiums too much," reads a Thai-language Facebook post published on September 27. 

"Chinese marketers have come in to manipulate caladium prices because they farm plots of caladiums as an industry, as these images show."

The post accuses Chinese exporters of inflating the price of the plants and warns investors could lose money once the caladium market becomes "oversaturated".

Screenshot of the misleading Facebook post, taken on October 8, 2021

Caladiums are tropical plants known for their vibrant colours and patterned leaves.

Demand for colourful houseplants boomed in Thailand during the pandemic, with people looking to spruce up their homes during lockdown, the Bangkok Post reported. Caladiums in particular command high prices for rare colours and patterns. According to local media reports, caladiums can be priced up to 1 million baht (29,000 USD) for a rare white tint.

The photos of caladium fields were shared in similar Facebook posts here, here and here.

However, the claim is misleading. The images show caladium fields in the United States, not China.

First image

AFP found a similar image to the first image in the post published here by photo agency Alamy. According to the photo caption, the picture was taken on July 27, 2018.

The caption adds: "The colorful world famous Caladium flower growing fields in Lake Placid Florida supplying 90% of the world supply of Caladium flowers."

Below is a screenshot comparison between the first image in misleading post (left) and the image from Alamy (right):

Screenshot comparison between the first image in the misleading post (Left), and the image from Alamy's website (Right)

Second image

A reverse image search and keyword search found a larger version of the second image posted here on July 8, 2018 on a Facebook page called Classic Caladiums, which describes itself as a caladium producer based in Florida.

Below is a screenshot comparison between the second image in misleading post (left) and the image from Classic Caladiums' post (right):

Screenshot comparison between the second image in the misleading post (Left), and the image from Classic Caladium's post (Right)

Third image

A reverse image search and keyword search on Google found a larger version of the third image posted here on January 31, 2019 by Classic Caladiums.

Below is a screenshot comparison between the third image in misleading post (left) and the image from Classic Caladiums' post (right):

Screenshot comparison between the third image in the misleading post (Left), and the image from Classic Caladium's post (Right)

Fourth image

A reverse image search and keyword search found a larger version of the fourth image posted here on August 31, 2019 on a Facebook page called Happiness Farms.

Happiness Farms is a caladium farm located in Lake Placid, Florida.

Below is a screenshot comparison between the fourth image in misleading post (left) and the image from Happiness Farms Caladiums' post (right):

Screenshot comparison between the fourth image in the misleading post (Left), and the image from Happiness Farms Caladiums' post (Right)

AFP found no credible media reports of Chinese merchants fixing the price of caladiums.