A flower's demise is a slow process—unless you're photographer Jon Shireman, in which case it happens with a quick pivot and a smash. He immerses his flowers to stiffen them, then flings them against a hard surface. The shattered remains are beautiful. 'Broken Flowers' is a striking series of contrasting pairs.
Orchids are known for their curious behaviors and adaptations and with more than 25,000 species, the Orchidacae family exhibits a dizzying range of colors, shapes, and life cycles. Their enigmatic blossoms often seem to be synced with an inscrutable clock; some flower for months, while others open for only a few hours. Recently, a new species with an unusual blooming time was discovered: the Bulbophyllum nocturnum, the only known night-blooming orchid.
If you're planning a wild orchid hunt, you could paddle through the mangroves of Papua New Guinea, or adventure into the Colombian rainforests. Or, you could consider a trip to Minnesota.
The discovery of the world's smallest orchid is, fittingly, the story of an intrepid explorer, an enigmatic flower, and the curious luck that brought them together. Joining other small orchids in the Platystele genus, a blossom from this superlatively small species is just 2.1 mm wide from tip to tip, and its petals are one-cell thick—all but transparent. For years, the tiny flower eluded even the world's leading orchid hunter.