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Excerpts from

VOLUME 79, NO. 2—April, May, June 2015


The First World Slipper Orchid Conference
Phyllis S. Prestia
6 page, 13 photos

Paph. Imelda Bobadilla x Icy Icy Wind

Hilo bay from the Hilo Hawaiian Hotel
©Steve Hampson


Harold Koopowitz talk: inside the pouch of Paph. areeanum
©Harold Koopowitz

Jerry Fisher talk:
Phrag. Jerry Lee Fischer (Incan Treasure × besseae ‘RC’)
©Orchids Limited



Phyllis Prestia’s Diary
January 14
Today was a full day of travel with flights from Carlsbad to Los Angeles, to Honolulu, and finally Hilo on the Big Island. I am finishing the evening with a deep tissue massage in my hotel room. Aloha Hawai’i.

January 15
Rested and refreshed, I’m off to Quintal Farms orchid nursery in Kurtistown for my first nursery visit. Kai and Haroldeen Quintal are the current owners, the nursery having been passed down to this generation. Kai, the hybridizer and man with a vision, has been growing orchids since he worked with his father and subsequently took over the business. Kai has been specializing in Paphiopedilum and Phragmipedium hybrids. This year he has bloomed the nursery’s third generation of Phrag. kovachii hybrids. The depth of color and size of his plants is testament to his remarkable achievement.

Currently he has set his sights on Lycaste and Zygopetalum hybrids. The lycaste benches were not available for visitation at this time. I was, however, treated to a tour of the zygopetalum benches. Kai is quite satisfied with the darkest flowers he has produced and some of the spotted and blotched pastels. I’m impressed. Quintal Farms is a wholesale only nursery.

January 16
Contrary to early weather predictions, the days have been gloriously warm and sunny with temperatures in the 70s to 80s. I rose early and headed out for Hilo Orchid Farm Hawai’i, Inc. in Mountain View. I was greeted by owner James Fang and offered a tour of the greenhouses. James’ specialty is paphiopedilums and this is reflected in the amount of greenhouse space devoted to the genus. He is particularly fond of complex hybrid breeding, although he is growing many other diverse orchid species.

I also saw a large collection of his Neofinetia falcata crosses and intergeneric crosses with Oncidium and related genera. I’m leaving with a few plants and a bag of very sweet tangerines from his tree.

In conjunction with the conference there was AOS orchid judging and much of the day was filled with judging. There were 198 plants entered for judging. Except for one gigantic Vanda and one or two others, all the rest were slipper orchids. We gave 11 awards. There are some very fine growers here in Hilo.

After judging, conference attendees enjoyed the Welcome Dinner at the Hilo Bay Cafe. The dinner was very nice and a great opportunity to spend casual time with friends I haven’t seen in a while. Ono is now one of my favorite fish.

January 17
This is a joint conference with the 59th Paphiopedilum Guild meeting.

The first speaker, Harold Koopowitz, spoke on the topic of “Sex and the Slipper Orchid: Up Close.” He began with molecular phylogeny of slipper orchids, a type of evolutionary chronology of the genus and sections as a result of DNA research. Using examples from phragmipediums, he explained how the flowers are pollinated. Illustrations also included microscopic examples of the actual pollination. Key terms are side lobes, stamen, staminodes, three-stigma lobes, ovary, and pollen granules. He further demonstrated fertilization using illustrations of the embryonic sac in an ovule. Harold further illustrated the process using paphiopedilums, pointing out several differences in structure between them and phragmipediums. With that information, he returned to the original cladogram and discussed the evolution of the other genera in the slipper alliance.

This was a thoroughly detailed discussion of the pollination and fertilization in paphiopedilums and phragmipediums and was peppered with his charming wit. We were all entertained with such phrases as “pollen wars” and “slowly rushing pollen tubes.” I always learn so much from listening to him.

The next speaker was Jerry Fischer, of Orchids Limited, who spoke on the topic of “Phragmipedium kovachii and its History, Hybridizing, and Culture.” He began with photos of habitat in situ in Peru, telling the story of the process of obtaining plants for legal propagation. He has successfully grown the plants and we were treated to lots of beautiful photos of the flowers he bloomed from that collection.

Next he listed the hybrids that he has made with Phrag. kovachii and showed many interesting pictures of the crosses. Some flowers were beautiful; some not so much. Jerry has pressed on to make second generation crosses with Phrag. kovachii. He believes that some of his best results are reflected in this second generation. Flowers are generally large, have good color, and improved shape. Currently he has started a few backcrosses. He reported that the early results show intensified color.

Jerry concluded with a discussion of culture. He has experimented with a few potting mediums, such as the rock Diatomite as a medium and hydroponic watering systems. These have proved beneficial. Lava rock and Grow Stone also produced good results. He does not recommend using sphagnum moss with species, although he claims it works fine with hybrids.

In his opinion, the cross of Phragmipedium besseae and Phrag. kovachii (Phrag. Fritz Schomburg) may have produced the best flowers to date. With Phrag. kovachii, he advises blooming the cross several times to produce the best results. Apparently, the blooms improve with the age and size of the plant.

After lunch, Sam Tsui of the Orchid Inn, presented John Doherty’s (who could not attend) presentation on “Paphiopedilum sanderianum and its Hybrids.” He began with habitat. This orchid is a warm grower from Borneo found at elevations between 50-500 meters (164-1640 feet) on limestone cliffs. Forms of Paph. sanderianum that grow at higher elevations are more deeply colored and taller, while forms from lower elevations are shorter and less colored. This is due mainly to light levels; the more light, the less color.

Only 21 different clones of Paph. sanderianum have been awarded since 1986. John Doherty, the originator of this presentation, holds 10 of those awards, one of which is an AQ (Award of Quality). Mr. Tsui believes this low number of awards is due to the difficulty in transporting this species to judging centers. The delicate, long petals tend to break in transit. We were treated to many photos of beautiful, awarded plants.

Sam then listed for us Doherty’s recommendations for culture: grow Paph. sanderianum hot and steamy, don’t let the media dry out, use good water, and don’t repot more than every two years.

Culture was followed with a list of primary hybrids and accompanying photos of crosses with a number of different species including Paphiopedilum adductum, Paph. concolor, Paph. kolopakingii, Paph. platyphyllum, Paph. haynaldianum, Paph. gigantifolium, Paph. rothchildianum, and others. This was by far the most interesting segment of the presentation as one could see the characteristics of both parents displayed in the offspring. Then he reviewed the complex hybrids which produce very diverse flowers. Paphiopedilum Angel Hair and Paphiopedilum Screaming Eagle hybrids produced the most awards. Mr. Tsui believes that overall, Paph. rothschildianum, Paph. philippinense, and Paph. lowii have produced the best results when bred to Paphiopedilum sanderianum.

Sam left us with his own view of future directions in breeding. He is looking toward better form, larger dorsals, and more vibrant color. He is not concentrating on longer petals.

I found Sam to be very entertaining. He used word play to refer to plant characteristics, including jokes about long petals and other features of the genus. I realized later upon reflection that I remembered much of what he said due to the humor he used so freely.
The final presentation for the day was a survey of 2014 AOS awards for the genera Paphiopedilum and Phragmipedium given by Karen Muir. This is an annual tradition at the Paph Guild. Karen has refined the presentation to an art form with only eight seconds for each photo. The resulting impression of so many photos amassed together is that multiflorals are the current hybridizing direction.

I’m looking forward to the auction this evening, as I am bidding in the Silent Auction for a much coveted plant, specifically to replace one I’ve killed. Dinner tonight is a Luau Hawaiian style replete with pig and poi. A local dance troop entertained us with traditional songs and dances. One highlight was when attendees were invited to join the dancing. I’m liking Hawai’i. Also I won the plant. ‘Nuff said.

January 18
First lecture today is John Robertson who is speaking on “Slipper Orchids in Australia.” First he outlined the parameters of the climate around the coast of Australia. Mostly he grows outside in covered shade houses. Temperatures there range from 59-100°F (15-38°C) depending on the season. Humidity is generally high, averaging between 65-95 %.

He began with the Brachypetalum section. John’s goal is to create darker varieties and large spots blending to solids. In the albino area, he is working to create good strong yellows and yellows with spots. One interesting set of photos showed Paph. bellatulum with large soft pink spots. Paphiopedilum niveum, Paph. godefroyae, and Paph. concolor, among others, comprise his breeding stock. He also included intersectional brachy hybrids and showed photos of several striking flowers.

Next, the Parvisepalum group. He believes the early primary crosses were the best. He likes this group because they are tolerant of varying temperatures and produce large flowers. John showed some spectacular photos of Paph. Fanaticum and Paph. Magic Lantern, suggesting the latter for new hobbyists for its ease in growing. Others include Paph. Lynleigh Koopowitz, Paph. Mem. Larry Heuer, Paph. Norito Hasagawa and many others.
John moved on to complex hybrids. Photos that he included were of Paph. Harold Koopowitz, Paph. Krull’s Lace, Paph. Saint Dorothy, Paph. Lady Isabel, and a few others. He is not concentrating on multiflorals at this time.

Species are the area he has struggled with, as he does not have easy access to good material. Most plants have to be imported from flask. Photographs of Paph. sukhakulii and other species illustrated fine examples.

For novelties such as complexes, summers in Australia are a challenge. He’s working on the area of warmth tolerance. Again, darker, more intense and clearer colors such as vinicolors and yellows dominated his examples. This may be due again to limited available material.

In summary, John outlined his future directions. Warmth tolerance is high on his list. Plant size reduction and multiple growth habit are desired. Third is consistency in general. In my opinion, with the material he has to work with, he is doing a superb job. He grows robust plants with exceptional quality flowers.

Hadley Cash of Marriott Orchids spoke on “Orchid Rainbows.” He culled the best photos of the best plants in several color categories to share with us. First, he began with greens, golds, and brushed tones. Photos included Paph. Elfin Moon, Paph. Irish Glen, Paph. Meadow Elf, Paph. Titan’s Gold, Paph. Alchemy, Paph. Alchemists’ Jewel, Paph. Austin Cash, Paph. Sorcerer’s Stone, and Paph. Mem. Robert Weltz. In his opinion, petal width is the most difficult thing to breed for. Once you get that, it breeds forward. In essence he breeds for the perfect round circle shape on flat flowers. Paphiopedilum Austin Cash is his favorite flower in this group.

The reds and spots are Hadley’s favorite group because red is his favorite color. Photos included Paphiopedilum Lover’s Leap, Paph. Seduction, Paph. Red Dominion, Paph. Cupid’s Arrow, Paph. Tropic Thunder, Paph. Eastern Thunder, Paph. World Class, and several unregistered clones. In red breeding he is trying to match size and breeding with color.

The whites and pinks were the groups he first began with in his breeding program. Photos he showed were Paph. Twin Saints, Paph. Bella Bay, Paph. Heaven’s Grace and Paph. Mystic Knight.

Pink photos included Paph. Great Expectations, Paph. Legacy’s Child, Paph. Carmen Coll, Paph. White Galaxy, Paph. Winter Star, Paph. Knight’s Tale, Paph. Snow Dancer and Paph. Autumn Moon. With pinks, he’s looking for spots or other markings that break the basic white background.

Lastly, the vinicolors… With complex paphs, the problem is fertility. Photos included Paph. Firecatcher, Paph. Dark Destiny, Paph. Winwine. With vinicolors he is aiming for total saturation of color and stronger stems.

The last flower he showed was dedicated to his wife and is called Paph. Deborah Cash (Paph. Kevin Porter x Paph. rothschildianum). In a very sweet testimonial, he remarked that this was the only flower good enough to bear her name. I don’t know her, but it is a truly exceptional flower.

In summary, Hadley prefers to sib cross with his two best clones rather than remake a cross with exceptional clones of each. He is having better results following this line of breeding. His best tip dealing with sterile plants is to remake the cross. It usually produces some fertile plants. His joy is to create something entirely new.

Dennis Kao of Ching Hua Orchids was next following a nice lunch. He spoke on the topic of “Breeding Orchids in Taiwan.” He began with habitat. Taiwan is a sub-tropical environment that he feels is perfect for growing paphs. He believes the best advantages for breeding plants in Taiwan are the low costs of flasking and shipping compared with costs in the states. He claimed that approximately 60,000 plants were exported last year.

He began by showing the new species, Paph. rungsuriyanum, which is a new miniature species that the Taiwanese are using in breeding. The flower is no bigger than a quarter. It’s intensely colored and very cute. Dennis talked about other species being used in Taiwan. Paphiopedilum bellatulum is a dwarf species they are breeding with, attempting to improve the color by increasing the color splotches. Paphiopedilum Shun-Yi is a good example of this type of breeding. Paphiopedilum charlesworthii is another breeding line, using jungle collected plants.

Paphiopedilum hangianum is a species from Vietnam which has been used by the Taiwanese. He showed several photos of these, some even with red splotches on the petals, but the most favorite in Taiwan is the dark yellow form. Another breeding line is with Paphiopedilum helenae. The Taiwanese have bred these to large complexes like Paphiopedilum Stone Lovely. With Paph. henryanum, they are attempting to get wide petals. With the miniature Paph. tranlienianum, they are breeding to other miniatures such as Paph. helenae. He claims that the recurved petals of Paph. tranlienianum do not carry into progeny.

Multiflorals are also popular in Taiwan. Dennis claims Paphiopedilum anitum is used in breeding to widen the pedals, produce dark colors, and long petals. He believes that Paph. anitum is very important because it improves segment size. With Paph. rothschildianum, the Taiwanese are using jungle collected plants with wide petals to improve their breeding lines. Again he showed many interesting photo examples.

In closing Dennis listed the upcoming shows, including the 2020 World Orchid Conference which will be held in Taipei, Taiwan, and encouraged the audience to attend.

Ron Kaufman was the last speaker. He spoke on “South American Slipper Orchids: Habitats and Conservation.” He began by focusing on orchids from the northwest area of South America.

He believes that waterfalls are extremely important to the survival of phragmipediums in the wild. He has found large numbers of Phragmipedium reticulatum near road cuts next to steep cliffs exuding dripping water. He showed photos of this, Phrag. lindenii, and Phrag. boissierianum, all in similar habitats. Phragmipedium longifolium grows in similar habits but not in cleared areas. They grow in small brush in wet areas, such as saturated clay. In photos, their roots were crawling along the surface of the soil. However, in Columbia they were not growing in full sun, but fairly bright conditions in similar water-soaked clay, constantly getting a continual supply of water.

These phragmipediums are not endangered, but some phrags are in trouble. Phragmipedium pearcei is an endangered orchid that now survives in a few reserves put aside for orchid conservation. He showed us some plants growing right on the rocks in and around a stream which regularly overflows. Phragmipedium hirtzii and Phrag. fischeri are endangered species which grows in similar conditions. Phragmipedium besseae also grows on a vertical cliff face, mainly in inaccessible places. They come from places where they need to climb and water is readily available trickling downhill. Fortunately there are many left in the wild, probably due to their habit of growing in inaccessible places and partly due to the success of in ex-situ propagation.

Ron then showed photos of reserves put aside in his outlined area of South America. These are important as they protect the hydrological cycle in the reserve, which supports the endangered orchids there. He ended by asking us to think about conserving the areas where endangered orchids grow.

In conclusion, the speakers presented a wide array of topics covering: physiology and evolution, breeding, culture, and ecology. The speakers were all experts in their fields. The meeting was both entertaining and educational. I cannot wait until the next one.