Beware of the Devil Orchid!

20170105A Marta Kolanowska,

Telipogon diabolicus. Source: Marta Kolanowska,

OK, you don’t really have to fear the devil orchid, but you have to admit its flowers really are quite freaky.

Although the tepals are simply white with reddish veins, the dark purple-marroon gynostemium (the part in the center of an orchid flower that includes both male and female parts) looks distinctly like a devil’s head with two angrily glaring yellow eyes. This species, only discovered and described in the Putumayo/Nariño region of southern Colombia in 2015, has been called Telipogon diabolicus, a suitable name for such a sinister-looking flower.

20170106B Telipogon diabolicus. Emmanuel Larverde, Wikipedia. jpg.jpg

Telipogon diabolicus. Source: Emmanuel Larverde, Wikipedia

It’s a very small plant of extremely localized distribution: only about 30 plants were found in its native habitat. It has already been listed as critically endangered on the IUCN Red List. If ever it is introduced into culture, it would have to be as seed, as it is illegal to remove any specimens from the wild.

I found the information on this new discovery on Live Science, but would you believe this newly discovered plant already has its own page on Wikipedia? Go, Wikipedia!

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