Humans are obsessed enough with flowers that you’d think all the good ones would already be widely known. But on a trip to Northern Madagascar, a group of botanists stumbled across a little-known orchid that not only had big, beautiful flowers but a lovely scent, almost like champagne.
Madagascar has a wealth of unique orchids, but as the team reports in a paper published in Kew Bulletin, earlier collectors didn’t spend much time in the island’s more northern reaches, which can take days to reach. But when Anton Sieder, from the Botanical Gardens of the University of Vienna, and his wife Christa Sieder, made the journey, they found an orchid that they couldn’t believe no one had formally reported before.
It had a broad, white flower, close to two inches wide—larger than the flowers of C. Gigas, “which until now was the most impressive species in the genus,” they write. The flowers were also “strongly and pleasantly scented.”
A year later, a group from the Kew Royal Botanic Gardens went to see it for themselves. The flowers, The English Garden reports, grow all along the road and nearby rock faces. The locals, of course, are quite familiar with these flowers, and, according to Johan Hermans, the lead author of the paper, quite amused by the attention they were getting. “It is like a group of people suddenly studying the daisies growing in your front lawn,” he told The English Garden.
Along with this superstar flower, the team reports on nine others that are new to science. But the champagne-smelling flower, which the team calls “instantly recognizable,” has one more special characteristic: It’s named C. christae, after co-discoverer Christa Sieder.