The colourful and often fragrant flowers of orchids are highly valued for their beauty but researchers have now discovered that flowers of a new orchid species are not that pretty. A closer look at its flowers’ heart reveals what appears to be a devil’s head.
Named after its demonic patterns, the new orchid species, Telipogon diabolicus, was described in the journal PhytoKeys.
Discovered by Marta Kolanowska and Dariusz Szlachetko, both affiliated with the University of Gdansk, Poland, together with Ramiro Medina Trejo of Colombia, the new orchid grows a stem measuring between 5.5-9 cm in height.
With its only known habitat restricted to a single population spread across a dwarf montane forest in southern Colombia, the devilish orchid is assigned as a Critically Endangered species in the IUCN (International Union for Conservation) Red List.
Although the curious orchid could be mistakenly taken for a few other species, there are still some easy to see physical traits that make the flower stand out.
Apart from the demon’s head hidden at the heart of its colours, the petals themselves are characteristically clawed. This feature has not been found in any other Colombian species of the genus.
"In the most recent catalogue of Colombian plants almost 3600 orchid species representing nearly 250 genera are included," the authors said.
"However, there is no doubt that hundreds of species occurring in this country remain undiscovered," they pointed out.