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Excerpts from

VOLUME 77, NO. 1—January, February, March 2014

 

A SELECTION OF PHILIPPINE SPECIES FROM BULBOPHYLLUM SECTION POLYMERES
JIM COOTES AND GEORGE TIONG
6 pages, 20 photos


Bulbophyllum sp. aff. fenixii
This species differs from the nominate species because of its white sepals and petals, with dark red striping.
©Jim Cootes

Some of the most delightful members of the genus Bulbophyllum belong to the section Polymeres. These usually small-growing plants are easily managed in a small plastic or terracotta pot, or on a mount of tree fern fibre. Their flowers are usually brightly coloured, and have some unusual features that endear them to these authors...

 
FROM THE GALÁPAGOS ISLANDS
TO GENERA ORCHIDACEARUM

PART ONE: THE SHOT HEARD ‘ROUND THE WORLD
ALEC PRIDGEON
12 pages, 19 images


Marine iguanas gather on a lava wall
near the shoreline of Isabela.
©A. Pridgeon

For the past 16 years I have been co-editor and contributor to Genera Orchidacearum, the first robust and natural classification of the orchid family. All participants have worked in synchrony to incorporate a wealth of data including DNA sequences into a truly phylogenetic classification, identifying the areas and taxa that merit additional work. But where did Genera Orchidacearum begin? How far back can we trace its development? Is there any single event that we can say precipitated the inexorable chain of events that led to this point? Would things be different today otherwise?

To answer all these questions we could go back 13.8 billion years to the “Big Bang,” named inadvertently in 1949 by Fred Hoyle in ridiculing Georges Lemaître’s widely accepted theory of an expanding universe. But bound by page limitations and a finite lifespan for research, I have chosen as the catalyst a lesser-known event on 2 August 1828—not a Big Bang but a Little Bang—the day when Pringle Stokes put a pocket pistol to his head and fired...

 
CATTLEYA VIOLACEA, QUEEN OF THE GUYANAS
MICHAEL SINN
3 pages, 3 photos


C. violacea in situ
©Michael Sinn

German naturalist and explorer, Alexander von Humboldt along with French botanist and explorer, Aime Bonpland arrived at the Bay of Cumana in the northeastern part of Venezuela on July 16, 1799. Their journey from Spain took 42 days, including a stay of seven days on the island of Tenerife, Canary Islands. After several weeks of short discovery trips in the Cumana area and further preparations, they started their long adventure to the south of the continent. Their first target of exploration was the Llanos, a very large flatland with little variation of habitat. Arriving in San Fernando de Apure, a small village on the side of the Apure River, von Humboldt and Bonpland managed to acquire a large dugout canoe for transportation and four local people as guides. Navigating down the Apure, they arrived at the Orinoco River, which they then took traveling against the current southward, towards the Alto Orinoco, Atabapo and Rio Negro Rivers...

 
DENDROBIUM TOBAENSE A REALLY SPECTACULAR DENDROBIUM
ROLAND SCHETTLER
2 pages, 2 photos


Dendrobium tobaense
©Roland Schettler

When searching for plants of the genus Dendrobium which are worth the effort of growing, you will come across Dendrobium tobaense. You will find it in the literature, but you will very seldom see it at a show. When you do see it, it will usually be barely surviving with a single flower. As a dendrobium fan, this flower will fascinate you. Most of these plants are imported and are not well established. Unfortunately, this means the plants usually die within a period of two years after importation. I tried two or three times to grow this plant and the plants died because it is very hard to get new roots and new shoots to develop. This is because the commercial growers cut the plants into small pieces which have no chance of surviving...

 

HOW ORCHIDS GOT THEIR NAMES
CAROL SIEGEL
13 pages, 20 photos


Platyrhiza quadricolor is named for its four colors.
©Ron Parsons, grown by Ron Parsons.

More than 120 million babies will be born on earth this year. Each of them will be given a special name, the mark of his personal identity and unique place in society. Naming is so important that Genesis recounts that the first gift that the Almighty gave Adam was the right to name things, “…and whatsoever Adam called every living creature that was the name thereof.”
To name a baby, the Khasi people in Africa pour a gourd of rice liquor into rice meal while reading a list of names. The child is given the name that is recited during the pouring of the drop of liquor that takes the longest to leave the gourd. Then, the feet of the baby are smeared with the rice meal, and the guests eat the rice paste. Finally, the bloody placenta is swung over the baby three times, buried outside, and the child is named.
Sometimes it seems that orchids, too, were named with flying placentas and a smearing of rice paste. How in the world did they decide on those multisyllabic, unpronounceable nightmares? Why did they choose dead languages and incomprehensible words? Most of all, why did they spell them in such weird ways that even smart people make mistakes all the time? This is the story of how orchids got their very strange names and what they all mean (and it doesn’t appear that placenta was involved…)

 
THE FATE OF THE COMMERCIAL ORCHID GROWER IN THE UNITED STATES
JOHN SALVENTI
3 pages, 3 images


Taisuco’s nursery in Taiwan has hundreds of thousands of one type of phal.
© John Salventi

The basis for this article is a survey that was sent in 2011 to 34 growers in the United States who had been in business for 5-90 years with the average being 30 years; over 70% responded. The length and detail in many of the responses indicated, to me, that this was a serious issue for the respondents. The perspective that I used was my previous professional experience as a health care consultant and the technique was partially based on a tool I used called a SWOT analysis. This is an acronym for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats...