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Excerpts from

VOLUME 78, NO. 3—July, August, September 2014


Koopowitz Honored by RHS

Harold Koopowitz

©Sandra Svoboda

The Royal Horticulture Society Westonbirt Orchid Medal is awarded annually to an individual for any scientific, literary or any other outstanding personal achievement in connection with orchids. The medal was awarded to Harold Koopowitz in May in London. Harold is a professor emeritus of ecology at the University of California at Irvine. Previously, he was the director of the University of California at Irvine Arboretum for twenty years when it specialized in African bulbous and cormous plants. Koopowitz has long-standing interests in the hybridization of a variety of specialist plants, including slipper orchids and bulbs such as daffodils, clivias, and adeniums. He has traveled extensively to study orchids in the wild and is diligent in his efforts to encourage discussion about endangered plants. The results of his devotion include numerous scientific papers on orchids, deforestation, and the effects of climate change on plant extinctions. He was a long-standing member of the conservation committee of the American Orchid Society and a member of the Orchid Specialist Group of the Species Survival Commission. In 2003, he was awarded the Herbert Medal, the highest honor the International Bulb Society can bestow upon a person for meritorious achievement in advancing the knowledge of bulbous plants. Other awards include the American Orchid Society Gold Medal presented in November of last year.  The author of several books on horticulture and conservation, Koopowitz is immediate past editor-in-chief for the Orchid Digest and is President of the American Daffodil Society.  Recently he has become involved in publishing orchid fiction with his book Orchid Tales: The Adventures of George and Matilda, William & Great-Aunt Bertha which is available on Amazon.com as an e-book as well as a paperback. Our congratulations to Harold for a well deserved honor.


A Selection of Coelogyne Species from the Philippines
Jim Cootes and George Tiong
11 pages, 41 photos

Coelogyne alvinlokii

Coelogyne alvinlokii in situ on Samar,
an island in the Visayas in the central Philippines.
©Jim Cootes

In recent years, members of the genus Coelogyne have gained considerable popularity, around the world. It is likely that this renewed interest is facilitated by the number of new, spectacular species which have been discovered and named of late. A number of poorly-known species have also been re-discovered, and these are proving to be highly popular horticultural subjects. There are also a number of very attractive, yet hitherto undescribed species which are awaiting description, from various regions, including the Philippines.

We believe that the ease of growing many of the species has improved their horticultural importance and interest. The fact that many of the species are able to be grown without artificial heating, in the winter months in the more temperate localities, undoubtedly enhances their popularity. This is particularly the case, if a bit more information is known, especially of the elevations at which a particular species occurs in its natural habitat. The neat growth habit of most of the species, the reasonably large and pleasantly coloured flowers are also virtues that promote their cultivation by enthusiasts...

North America’s Weird and Fascinating Cranefly Orchid
Chuck McCartney
3 pages, 7 images

Tipularia discolor
The flowers of Tipularia discolor are unusual in the orchid family in that they are not strictly bilaterally symmetrical.
©Chuck McCartney

I first visited the mountains of western North Carolina in 1957, when I was ten years old. Within a couple of years, I learned that there were orchids growing in those ancient hills and valleys, in large part thanks to a few black-and-white photographs in the back of the 1956 edition of Mary Noble’s You Can Grow Orchids, an inexpensive little paperback that introduced many people to orchids and orchid culture. (Years later, when I worked for the publications of the American Orchid Society, it was my privilege to meet and get to know this fine Southern lady, after she had married Jack McQuerry later in her life. My original copy of her book is now in tatters, held together with tape from being consulted so often.)

In the intervening 57 years since my first trip to those mountains, I have become a serious student of the orchids and other magnificent and interesting wildflowers found there, augmenting my studies with color photographs of these species (including my first foray into digital photography in the summer of 2013). Much of my botanical exploration has been concentrated in the area of the Great Smoky Mountains and the far-southwestern counties of North Carolina and three adjacent counties of eastern Tennessee. Thus far, I have been lucky enough to encounter 25 orchid species there and have photographed most of these with varying degrees of success...

Sobralia Abel-Arayae, a New and Scarce Species
from Costa Rica
Robert L. Dressler, Melania Fernández, and Franco Pupulin
3 pages, 5 images

Another flower from the plant that served as the holotype, photographed in May 2012.
©F. Pupulin

To the southeast of Cartago and Paraíso, in Costa Rica, there is a rather primitive road through Guábata to Cachí. It is better to go up the road through Guábata, as it is much less frightening than the road from Cachí to Alto de Araya. Near the highest point of the road (Alto de Araya) there is a small lake that is said to be quite deep, and there are many Sobralias growing in or near the lake. Some grow on the tops of shrubs (or trees?) in the lake, and others grow along the edge of the lake. Most of the flowers near the lake are white or nearly white, and the variation strongly suggests that there are many hybrids, but there are also at least a few plants in the area that do not appear to be hybrids, though these may now be very scarce...

Orchids and Formicidae: Ants in Your Plants
Part IV of a Pollination Series
Carol Siegel
12 pages, 16 photos

Ant on Common Twayblade (genus Neotti).
©Grant Hazelhurst

Orchid growers don’t really like ants. Before you even notice, ants have marched into your orchid pots and taken over, moving in a nest of thousands, carrying eggs and bringing sucking aphids and mealy bugs.  If you try to dislodge them, ants come out in force, summoning an army of angry defenders, crawling over your arms and inflicting tiny little painful bites. They are an annoying pest, easy to kill but impossible to get rid of. Everyone has them at one time- and for good reason. Orchid plants send out irresistible invitations to ants, chemical messages to feel free and move right in. You might not like ants, but orchids have evolved to love them. Ants feed and defend many orchids, allowing them to grow, thrive, and reproduce much better than they could do on their own. Ants love orchids, too. Many of them provide ants with nectar and shelter. Ants even pollinate some orchids. This is the story of the amazing relationship between ants and orchids, a partnership that has lasted millions of years and that has contributed to their both becoming dominant life forms...


The Nothogenus Conspiracy
A Closer Look at a Dark Plot
Stephen Marak
4 pages, 3 photos

Darwinara Charm ‘Blue Pacific’
©Eric Hunt

Like most orchidists, I have been familiar with nothogenera (the plural of nothogenus) for quite a while–some of them, like Brassolaeliocattleya or Potinara, we encounter on a regular basis at shows. And like most orchidists, I hadn’t given them much thought. That all changed when, late one night about three years ago, while working in the greenhouse, I was startled—to say the least—by a sibilant whisper from outside the door.

Whisperer: “Psssst. Are you alone?”

Me: (wielding a net pot and trying to look intimidating) “Who the $^@%$ is that? You scared me half to death!”

Whisperer: “Sorry. I had to be sure they hadn’t gotten to you first.”

Me: “What on earth are you talking about? And who are you? And why are you skulking around my greenhouse at midnight? I should be calling the police right now.”...


The History and Future of Orchid Journals Orchideeën
from the Netherlands

Gab Van Winkel
5 pages, 10 photos

The journal Orchideeën went to A4 size in 1993. This issue reported about orchid travels to Papua New Guinea, the French Caribbean island Guadeloupe and the Drakensberg mountains in South Africa.

Orchid growing dates back from Confucius’ times in China, but our present hobby has its roots in British orchid mania of the 19th century. The wealthy upper class of that time enjoyed sponsoring orchid hunters who traveled the tropics, risked their lives and shipped thousands of exotic orchids. Therefore, it’s no coincidence that the oldest still running orchid journal is British. The Orchid Review started in 1893 and gained iconic status. The Orchid Review survived two world wars and several economic crises, but in 2009 it had to step down from six to four issues per year—for the same membership fee. At present many orchid societies and orchid journals see a decline in membership and wonder about their future.

In 2013, the Netherlands journal Orchideeën published its 75th volume. I have the pleasure to be its present editor and last year I published a series of four articles in Orchideeën about the journal’s history. In a fifth article, I wanted to look forward, to the 100th volume in 2038. Would the journal survive, and if so, in what form? Because forecasting requires a talent to think “out of the box,” I approached Harold Koopowitz for help. And he helped in a great way. His view on the future started a lively discussion, both in the Orchid Digest and in Orchideeën.

In return, I feel honored that the Orchid Digest offered me the opportunity to present a concise history of the world’s third oldest, still running orchid journal: Orchideeën from the Netherlands—and a glimpse into the future…


A Living Museum of Paphiopedilums
Tim Culbertson
8 pages, 20 photos

Paphiopedilum insigne varieties.
©Lindenia, volume 11, pages 510-511.

There is no museum for orchids. To me this is a pity. The many historic plants of various genera inhabiting private collections around the country and the world at large belie an interest in the history of orchid plants and their breeding that would be well-served by the establishment of major collections of them. This paper, in multiple parts, aims to serve as the inceptions of creating a living museum of paphiopedilums, by sharing some of the special plants I have found in 15 years of collecting historic slippers...


Calling All Paphiophiles
Harold Koopowitz
2 pages, 7 photos

Paphiopedilum rungsuriyamum
©Ono Achima

We are now six months away from the First World Paphiopedilum meeting and 59th Paphiopedilum Guild meeting to be held in Hilo, Hawai’i on January 17th and 18th 2015. It is a pleasure to note that the local orchid members are getting all geared up for this. They are already holding meetings to ensure that everything runs smoothly. They have all their ducks in a row and we expect that this will be a meeting to remember. Two days of talks on slipper orchids in paradise while the rest of the northern hemisphere suffers in the middle of winter. What more could you want? The first registrations are already coming in. 

You can register for the meeting by either going to this magazine’s web page at www.orchiddigest.org or directly to the Paph. Guild’s site at https://sites.google.com/site/paphiopedilumguild/ both pages will get you all the information you need. The costs of the meetings and hotels are very reasonable. Seriously, think about joining us...