Saturday, 5 December 2009

World's Smallest Orchid Discovered

The world's smallest known orchid - just over 2 millimeters (0.08 inch) across and nearly see-through - has been discovered nestled in the roots of another flower in Ecuador. Lou Jost, an ecologist with the EcoMinga plant-conservation foundation, has studied the plants of the South American country's mountainous forests for 15 years.

Earlier this year ecologist Lou Jost collected an orchid of a larger species to study in his greenhouse. Several months later I saw this tiny plant, he said.

The newfound orchid, part of the Platystele genus, hasn't yet had the type of scientific review that would lead to its official designation as a new species. But, Jost said, orchid expert Carl Luer, a researcher affiliated with the Missouri Botanical Garden, agrees that the plant is a unique species.

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