A new species of orchid discovered in Columbia has what is unmistakably a frightening face on it – one which has researchers calling the face a devil’s head. The flower has even been named Telipogon diabolicus because of its close resemblance to a devil’s head with its claw-like petals.
The journal PhytoKeys describes the new find that has a maroon tint to it and a stem size between 5.5-9cm in height as ‘ translucent flowers’ with ‘distinctly clawed petals’.
It is characterized by the translucent flowers, the glabrous, distinctly clawed petals, the transversely elliptic lip, and the gynostemium ornamented with long setose hairs on both sides and shorter hairs at the apex.
According to Phys.org, the discovery was made by Dr Marta Kolanowska and Prof Dariusz Szlachetko of the University of Gdansk, Poland, with Dr Ramiro Medina Trejo from Colombia. They found the flower on the border between Putumayo and Nariño in Columbia, which is now its only known habitat. Since only 30 flowers were found spread across that area, the species has been listed as critically endangered in the IUCN Red List.
Although most orchids are brightly colored in order to attract insects, no other orchid in Columbia has the same characteristics as this new flower. Researchers say that Columbia has cataloged ‘almost 3600 orchid species’ though many species in the country ‘remain undiscovered’.
In the most recent catalogue of Colombian plants almost 3600 orchid species representing nearly 250 genera are included. However, 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.
In 2013, BBC News reported that human affinity towards finding faces in things (as we have with this flower) is due to a condition called pareidolia, or finding patterns where they may not exists. So who knows if the devil’s face is real or imagined?