(CNN) –– Orchids are often considered beautiful, delicate and colorful, but one of their recently identified species listed as “the ugliest orchids in the world” might change your mind.
ORCHID Gastrodia agnicellus –– which rightly received the title of “the ugliest in the world” –– is one of the plants and mushrooms recently discovered this year. This was announced by researchers at the Royal Botanical Gardens of Kew (RBG, for its acronym in English).
The “ugly orchid of the world” found in Madagascar is leafless and grows from a woolly, tuberous stem. Moreover, it spends most of its life underground, emerging only to flower or bear fruit.
The beauty is in the eye of the beholder, Johan Hermans, the orchid researcher behind the discovery, told CNN on Thursday.
However, he acknowledged: “It’s not very appealing, I have to say. It has a fleshy appearance, red on the inside and brown on the outside. ‘
“I saw her for the first time in the seedling. A few years later we returned and searched the same area, trying to find a brown flower in the brown bedding. And I finally found it, ”said 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 out where the plant was,” he added.
The researchers thought that the strange-looking plant could smell of rotten meat, as is usual with some orchids pollinated with flies. But instead, the orchid surprised them with a “beautiful, citrus, 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 easily under the bedding, “he said.
«It opens only a little, is fertilized and the seed bears fruit. And, in fact, it grows over a fairly long point about 8 cm high. Then the seed is opened and distributed.
About 156 plants and fungi from around the world were found and officially named by RBG Kew and its partners in 2020. Among them, a scaly-leafed shrub from southern Namibia, a relative of blueberries found in New Guinea and a new hibiscus variety in Australia.
But many of these plants are already in danger of extinction due to threats to their habitats, RBG Kew warned on Thursday.
About 40 percent of the world’s plant species are threatened with extinction, RBG Kew said earlier this year. This is due to the annihilation caused by rising deforestation rates, global emissions and climate change. So are 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 a “transformative change” is needed to save the planet.