One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
Any of numerous small epiphytic orchids of the genus Masdevallia, native to cool mountainous regions of South America and cultivated elsewhere as ornamentals. Also (in form Masdevallia): the genus itself.
Mid 19th century; earliest use found in Curtis's Botanical Magazine. From scientific Latin Masdevallia from the name of Jose Masdevall (d. 1801), Spanish physician and botanist + -ia.
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