But I felt a growing sense of unease looking at those flowers. After everyone else had left the room I turned to my boss, Ron Determann, and pointed to the confusing configuration of flower parts. Which are the petals?
The next layer consists of three petals. In Stanhopea two petals are narrow strips reflexed backwards over the top of the sepals. The third petal is the lip. The trumpet lip of a Cattleya is iconic --it's what makes Cattleya instantly recognizable. But a Stanhopea lip with its horns and eyespots is even more interesting.
Just above the anther cap is the sticky stigmatic surface where incoming bees leave pollinaria from other Stanhopea plants.The pollen germinates on that surface, releasing sperm cells that travel the length of the column to the ovary (barely visible in the fourth photo) located above the sepals. After fertilization of the ovules the ovary swells and becomes the seed capsule.