noun (plural labella /-ˈbelə/)
2 Botany A central petal at the base of an orchid flower, typically larger than the other petals and of a different shape.
- 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.
- 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.
Early 19th century: from Latin, diminutive of labrum 'lip'.
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