Stellilabium jostii Dodson

 

I just discovered this species in May 2003. It is a tiny species but its flowers are among the most intricate structures in the plant world. It imitates the rear end of a female fly, and male flies try to mate with it, thus pollinating the flower.

 

   Stellilabium jostii is currently being described by Dr. Dodson. It grew in wet forest undergrowth near Mera. The flower is about the size of my fingernail, and easy to miss in the complex vegetation. Perhaps the species grows elsewhere but has been overlooked. It is very distinctive, however, and cannot be confused with any other species of Stellilabium.

      There may be a second species of Stellilabium endemic to the Upper Pastaza Watershed. Dr. Dodson began to describe it as S. topoensis, but the specimen was lost and the description never published.

 

I made this botanical drawing of my discovery. My arm is still sore from the strain of drawing each one of those branched hairs.