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World Smallest orchid

Posted on 3:06 PM by Sameer Shah


Botanists who have just discovered a new flower in Ecuador can be forgiven for having missed it until now.

The world's smallest orchid is just 2.1mm wide, with transparent petals that are just one cell thick. It comes from the Platystele genus, which is made up of mostly miniature plants.

American scientist Lou Jost found the tiny flower by accident among the roots of a larger plant that he had collected from the Cerro Candelaria reserve in the eastern Andes.

He said: 'I saw that down among the roots was a tiny little plant that I realised was more interesting than the bigger orchid.

'Looking at the flower is often the best way to be able to identify which species of orchid you’re got hold of - and can tell you whether you’re looking at an unknown species or not.'

It is the 60th new orchid that Dr Jost has discovered in the past decade.

He works for Ecuador's EcoMinga Foundation, which created the reserve in partnership with the World Land Trust in Britain.

'It is an exciting feeling to find a new species,' he said.

'People think everything has been discovered but there's much more.'

More than 1,000 orchid species have been unearthed in the South American country in the last 100 years as new roads have opened up more remote regions.

Dr Jost's most exciting find was a group of 28 types of orchids from the teagueia genus in a mountainous area near Banos, Ecuador.

The group was previously thought to only have six species.

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