The smallest species of orchid in the world has been discovered hidden among the roots of a larger plant in a nature reserve in Ecuador. Lou Jost, an American botanist, found the tiny orchid by accident when he was inspecting a plant collected from the Cerro Candelaria reserve in the eastern Andes, which was created by Ecuador's EcoMinga Foundation in partnership with the World Land Trust in Britain. The plant is just 2.1mm wide, and instantly supercedes the species Platystele jungermannioides as the world's smallest orchid. The petals are so thin that they are just one cell thick and transparent. The flower is just one of 60 new orchids and 10 other plant species that Dr Jost has discovered in the past decade. "I found it among the roots of another plant that I had collected, another small orchid which I took back to grow in my greenhouse to get it to flower," he said of his latest discovery. "A few months later I saw that down among the roots was a tiny little plant that I realised was more interesting than the bigger orchid." More than 1,000 orchid species have been discovered in Ecuador in the past century, as plant collectors enjoy a bonanza made possible by the construction of roads which have allowed access to some of the most remote and unspoilt forest habitats in the world.