How Small is the Smallest Orchid?

Mini orchid

You probably have seen mini orchids in stores like Trader Joe’s or Safeway or at your local florist shop. They are irresistible and as all miniature things get your attention and admiration. But can you imagine that there could be even smaller orchids than these 4-7 inches tall beauties?

Back in 2009 an American botanist Lou Jost discovered the smallest species of orchid in the world. The tiny orchid was discovered in Ecuador among the roots of a larger plant Lou Jost was inspecting. The plant is just 0.08 inch (2.1mm) wide with the size of the flowers of around 0.04 inch (1 mm). The petals are so thin that they are just one cell thick and nearly see through.

The smallest orchid discovered yet

This tiny orchid has been tentatively classified as a new species of Platystele, a genus that is primarily contains miniature plants. Before this discovery,  the smallest orchid in the world, Platystele jungermannioides was discovered in 1912.

Interestingly, Ecuador is home to 4,000 known orchid species—a thousand of them discovered in the past 12 years. An expert orchid hunter, Dr. Jost, alone discovered 60 new species of orchids in the previous decade.

“It’s an exciting feeling to find a new species. People think everything has been discovered but there’s much more,” Dr. Jost pointed out.

There is definitely much more to discover. Will there be even smaller orchid that this? Will there be time when flower delivery companies could offer to deliver such a miniature flower to their customers?



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