One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
Each of a pair of lobes at the tip of the proboscis in some insects.
A central petal at the base of an orchid flower, typically larger than the other petals and of a different shape.
- ‘The petals are lesser segments that typically envelop the column; the labellum is also generally small.’
- ‘In attempting unsuccessfully to couple with the labellum the male pushes its head forward below the overhanging column.’
- ‘The males then try to mate with the labellum or else lift it as they would a female wasp.’
- ‘These encounters can be quite violent and frequently result in the labellum being torn from the flower.’
- ‘If insects smaller than the pollinator become trapped they may crawl out without pollination occurring or, if larger than the pollinator, they may stay trapped until the labellum opens again.’
Early 19th century: from Latin, diminutive of labrum ‘lip’.
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