Gardening Orchids

Beware of the Devil Orchid!

20170105A Marta Kolanowska, livescience.com
Telipogon diabolicus. Source: Marta Kolanowska, livescience.com

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!

Larry Hodgson is one of Canada’s best-known garden communicators. He has notably been editor-in-chief of HousePlant Magazine, Fleurs, Plantes et Jardins, À Fleur de Pot and Houseplant Forum magazines and is currently the garden correspondent for Le Soleil and radio garden commentator for CKIA-FM Radio. He has written for many garden publications in both the United States and Canada, including Canadian Gardening, Harrowsmith, Horticulture, Fine Gardening and Organic Gardening. He also speaks frequently to horticultural groups throughout Canada and the U.S. His book credits include The Garden Lover’s Guide to Canada, Complete Guide to Houseplants, Making the Most of Shade, Perennials for Every Purpose, Annuals for Every Purpose, and Houseplants for Dummies, as well as nearly 60 other titles in English and French. He is a past president of the Garden Writers Association (now Garden Communicators International) and the winner of the prestigious 2006 Garden Media Promoter Award offered by the Perennial Plant Association. He resides in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada.

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