Someone slipped out of the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum after vandalizing a rare state flower.

The Chanhassen arboretum's interim director, Peter Moe, posted on Facebook Monday about the damaged showy lady's slipper, Minnesota's state flower. Since 1925, state law has protected the endangered plant, making it illegal to uproot it or pick its flowers.

A single blossom was removed from the plant and a metal hoop protecting the bed had been tossed into the bed of orchids in the arboretum's Green Heron Trail.

"It looks more like a random act of vandalism than a chapter from 'The Orchid Thief,' " said Susie Hopper, arboretum spokeswoman.

An arboretum security guard noticed the damage to the plant over the weekend and alerted staff.

"One reason we are so disturbed," said Tom Brinda, arboretum horticulturist, is that "we have not had to deal with this on a regular basis."

Showy lady's slippers bloom in June and July. It can take up to 16 years for the plant to flower.

Brinda said the arboretum does not plan to tighten security. Instead, the arboretum wants to emphasize to the public the importance of plant etiquette.

"These are works of art," he said.

Beatrice Dupuy