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Excerpts from
VOLUME 75, NO. 2—April, May, June 2011
Celebrating 75 years!

Darwin and His Love Affair with Orchids
Carol Siegel
12 pages, 25 photos

Anacamptis pyramidalis and Burnet Moth with pollinia.
©Irene and John Palmer

    The earliest portrait of Charles Darwin shows a happy six-year-old clutching a big pot of flowers. From youth to old age, plants and flowers were the passion of Darwin’s life, his consuming interest and greatest love. He spent more time studying them than anything else. He wrote seven major works on plants including a ground-breaking book on orchids which provided living proof of his revolutionary vision of evolution. In brilliant detail, he showed how plants grew, outwitted rivals, and survived to produce another generation. He was fascinated by the intricate mechanisms continuously evolving to make insects and birds, the wind and the sea do the business of plant reproduction. He especially used orchids to show how complex structures could be explained by the mechanism of natural selection and not by the handiwork of God. Orchids were his proof of the reality of evolution...

Ernie Gemeinhart
10 pages, 9 photos

Semi-hydroponics is a self-contained version of modern hydroponics. In traditional hydroponics, the crop is usually a single species or cultivar. Use your imagination. The plants share a common growing basin and water with nutrients is continuously or intermittently pumped through the inert growing media over the plants’ roots. Timer-controlled pumps regulate the water flow, and water is recycled until fouled and/or depleted of nutrients. The media is inert and contributes little to no nutrition to the plants. Semihydroponics considers that orchid growers aren’t growing a room full of…um, tomatoes. Since the “crop” is orchids with various needs, it is necessary to segregate them into individual containers. Providing plumbing and controls to monitor water flow becomes cumbersome as the number of containers increases. Semi-hydroponics eliminates the automated recycling aspect; the grower becomes the recycling pump. The container and media provide the plant with the proper combination of moisture, nutrients, and air...

Some examples of media used in semi-hydroponics. Front row, (all left to right): medium grade Growstone, Hydroton, lightweight expanded shale aggregate (LESA). Middle row: coarse Growstone, sponge rock, red lava pebbles. Back row: coarse sand, pea gravel.
©Ernie Gemeinhart

Vasqueziella, An Unknown Genus
Rudolf Jenny, Ph.D.
4 pages, 8 photos/illustrations

Vasqueziella boliviana,
plant from Bolivia.
With permission of Tilman Neudecker
The monotypic or monospecific genus Vasqueziella, with the single species Vasqueziella boliviana from Bolivia, was described and illustrated by Calaway H. Dodson in 1982 in his “Icones Plantarum Tropicarum.” The single plant was collected by Roberto Vasquez in the department Cochabamba (Typus: Bolivia, Cochabamba; Prov. Chapare, km 100 Cochabamba – Villa Tunari, 1800 m, Vasquez 630, holotype
SEL, isotype Herb. Vasquezianum) and flowered later in cultivation with Carlos Hayek. The plant was collected from a fallen tree, and the leaves had been cut away. Vasqueziella was growing epiphytically and the habitat was described by Dodson as “subtropical montane wet forest.” The drawing by Roberto Vasquez from July, 1981 shows the characteristic form of the pseudobulbs very clearly and the distinctive form of the lip. For many years the plant was not collected again and seemed to be lost. Around 2006 some plants of an unknown “Acineta” were collected close to Machu Picchu Pueblo at about 2700 m (8858 feet) altitude...
The Genus Corallorhiza Gagnebin in the United States
and Canada

Leon Glicenstein
10 pages, 36 photos

The genus Corallorhiza is commonly called the Coral-root (a translation of the Greek derived generic name), but is misnamed as it is an orchid which has no roots, but rhizomes resembling branched coral beneath the surface of the soil.

Rarely found flower with red spots on the lip of Cor. trifida var. verna growing in Michigan.
©Leon Glicenstein