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Orchid: The devilís in the details

ESF Top 10 New Species of 2017

  • the complete plant
    Photo credit: M. Kolanowska

  • the flower close-up
    Photo credit: M. Kolanowska

  • the plant in its habitat
    Photo credit: M. Kolanowska

About the Orchid

Telipogon diabolicus

They say the devil is in the details. In this case, it’s in the orchid. The new species Telipogon diabolicus has a reproductive structure derived from the fusion of male and female flower parts into one that bears a striking resemblance to depictions of the devil’s head.

Considered critically endangered, the species is known only from southern Colombia where it is an epiphyte — a plant that grows harmlessly on another plant in moist, dwarf mountain forest. The orchid is known only from one highly vulnerable location currently threatened by reconstruction of a road that will negatively impact its habitat. There are about 3,600 species of orchids in Colombia alone, with hundreds of new species awaiting discovery.

Etymology Named for the devil’s head-like appearance of the gynostemium of the flower

Type locality Colombia, Putumayo/Nariño, Páramo de Bordoncillo, 3,180 m

Type Jardín Botánico Joaquin Antonio Uribe, Medellín

Distribution Southern Colombia

Description Kolanowska, M., Szlachetko, D. L., R. M. Trejo (2016) Telipogon diabolicus (Orchidaceae, Oncidiinae), a new species from southern Colombia. PhytoKeys 65: 113-124.

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