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Demon Orchid: This New Flower Looks Like a Devil’s Head

Jul 14, 2016 03:02 AM EDT
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Scientists discovered a rare new species of orchids that looks like the devil's head.

With a lone population of only 30, the reddish to dark violet-maroon colored orchid grows in a small patch of land in a south Colombian dwarf montane forest between the Putumayo and Nariño regions.

While it resembles other orchid varieties, the new flower, however, has some unique characteristics. The aptly named Telipogon diabolicus has claw-like petals and, interestingly, its heart-shaped gynostemium looks like a devil's head.

The Telipogon diabolicus, which was discovered by Dr. Marta Kolanowska and Prof. Dariusz Szlachetko from the University of Gdansk in Poland, together with Dr. Ramiro Medina Trejo in Colombia, has been listed as critically endangered on the IUCN Red List, which keeps a list of plants and animals that are threatened with extinction.

"This species is only known from the type specimens, which represent one location in [a] highly vulnerable habitat near the main road Pasto-Mocoa," the researchers said in the study, which was published online on PhytoKeys.

"It is expected that the current reconstruction of this road will have [a] negative impact on the habitat of T. diabolicus."

The new orchid, which grows a stem that measures between 5.5 to 9 cm in height, was discovered by the researchers in 2015 while cataloging different Colombian plant species, which included about 3,600 different orchid species representing almost 250 genera.

But according to the researchers, there could be hundreds more that are yet to be discovered.

"There is no doubt that hundreds of species occurring in this country remain undiscovered. Only in 2015 over 20 novelties were published based on material collected in Colombia," the researchers said.

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