Bellavista Cloud Forest Reserve,
NW Ecuador 2012
Passiflora unipetala. Found by Nathan Muchhala. This extraordinary looking bat-pollinated Passiflora (which possibly may also be visited by hummingbirds) was found by Nathan Muchhala (University of Toronto – Pollen Biologist) in cloud forests in NW Ecuador at around 2000m elevation in 2008. This is a new species with the unique characteristic out of all the known Passiflora species of only having one petal – which seems to be acting as an umbrella to keep the pollen dry. Neil Gale also suggests that the shape may reflect the bat’s ultrasonic signals as it approaches the flower. A truly remarkable flower.
Passiflora unipetala P. Jørg., Muchhala & J. M. MacDougal (Passifloraceae) is described from two cloud forest remnants in Pichincha, Ecuador, and is assigned to the Andean endemic Passiflora L. supersect. Tacsonia (Juss.) Feuillet & J. M. MacDougal. This new species with yellowish green flowers is distinguished from all other passionflowers by having only one petal. It is pollinated by bats, which is rare in Passiflora. Novon: A Journal for Botanical Nomenclature 22(2):174-179. 2012