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Orchids 101: The biology behind these elegant flowers

By: Anna Norris on Jan. 21, 2014, 9:19 a.m.
Dracula cordobae orchid

Photo: Anna Norris

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Strange sepals

Inner petals and outer sepals give orchids their unique shapes. Orchids in the genus Dracula (which means "little dragon" in Greek) are known for the long, spiky shapes of their sepals. If you look closely at the Dracula cordobae pictured here, the "mouth" of its tiny face is a petal that's coincidentally called a "lip."