Things are not as they seem in this bulbous native of the Himalayas. Stacks of leaf sheaths fitting snugly into each other make a pseudostem, out of which protrude the exotic flowers in what Cecil Beaton called 'poisonous purple', which continue the masquerade.
From the tubular calyx emerge three true petals, the upper a cobra hood, opalescent in the sunshine, the two laterals skinny streamers. There then appears to be an inner structure of three petals, the most prominent being the extravagantly wide and crimped 'fall'. In fact, this petal-like landing lip is formed from two flattened and fused staminodes - sterile and, in this case, adapted stamens. Two further staminodes reach up and hook over each other to make an inner hood.