The ugliest orchid in the world has a citrus smell 0:53
(CNN) –– Orchids are often believed to be beautiful, delicate, and colorful, but one of their newly identified species listed as the “world’s ugliest orchid” might change your mind.
The Gastrodia agnicellus orchid –– which was justly called “the ugliest in the world” –– is one of the plants and fungi recently discovered this year. This was announced by researchers from the Royal Botanical Gardens of Kew (RBG, for its acronym in English).
The “world’s ugly orchid,” found in Madagascar, is leafless and grows from a woolly, tuberous stem. Furthermore, it spends most of its life underground, emerging only to flourish or produce fruit.
Beauty is in the beholder’s eyes, Johan Hermans, an orchid researcher behind the find, told CNN on Thursday.
Still, he acknowledged: ‘She’s not very attractive, I must say. It has a fleshy appearance, red on the inside and brown on the outside.
“We saw it for the first time in the episperm. A couple of years later we went back and searched the same area, trying to find a brown flower in the brown litter. And we finally found it, ”explained Hermans, an honorary research associate at RBG Kew.
“It was somewhat hidden at the base of the tree, and you had to remove the leaves to find where the plant was,” he added.
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The researchers thought the strange-looking plant might smell like rotting meat, as is common in some fly-pollinated orchids. But instead, the orchid surprised them with a “nice, citrusy, rose scent,” Hermans said.
«This orchid has an amazing life cycle. It has a woolly tuber on the ground, without leaves, and the flower appears slightly under the litter, “he said.
«It only opens a little, it becomes fertilized and the seed bears fruit. And it actually rises over a fairly long point about 8 inches high. Then the seed is opened and distributed.
Some 156 plants and fungi around the world were found and officially named by RBG Kew and its partners in 2020. Among them, a scaly-leaved shrub from southern Namibia, a relative of the cranberry found in New Guinea, and a new variety hibiscus in Australia.
But several of these plants are already in danger of extinction due to threats facing their habitats, RBG Kew warned Thursday.
About 40% of the world’s plant species are under threat of extinction, RBG Kew said earlier this year. This is due to annihilation driven by rising deforestation rates, global emissions, and climate change. As well as the threats posed by new pathogens and non-native species and the illegal trade in plants.
A sixth mass extinction is taking place, caused by humans, and experts say it is happening faster than expected.
One million of the planet’s eight million species are threatened with extinction by humans, a UN committee warned last year. He added that “transformative change” was needed to save the planet.