Often considered to be one of the most beautiful flowers in the world, the orchid is a fan-favourite for many. A new species of the flower, however, is less than aesthetically pleasing.
The newly discovered “Gastrodia agnicellus” has been labelled as the ugliest orchid in the world. The toadstool was discovered at Heathrow airport in 2020 and can typically be found in a forest in Madagascar.
It is one of the 156 new plants and fungi discovered in 2020 by the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew (RBG Kew).
Scientists at RBG Kew explain that the 11mm flowers of this orchid are small, brown and rather ugly. To some, it may look like a fish with an open mouth.
While it’s not the prettiest sight, it does reportedly smell quite pleasant. Johan Hermans, a researcher on orchids, described the flower as having a “pleasant, citrusy, rose scent”.
“After G. agnicellus is pollinated, the stalks grow, holding the fruits well above the forest floor so that the dust-like seeds can better disperse. The orchid depends on fungi for nutrition and has no leaves or any other photosynthetic tissue,” explain RBG Kew researchers.
“The new orchid has been assessed as threatened, but with a small range occurring within an already protected national park, the plants do have some protection for now.”
Picture: Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew