Orchid Digest Logo

The Orchid Digest is a
non-profit 501(c)(3) organization.

Excerpts from

VOLUME 80, NO. 2—April, May, June 2016


Perfect Splash Petal Cattleyas
Peter T. Lin
2 page, 10 photos

Ctna. Peggy’s Dream ‘Fantasy Flare’

Ctna. Peggy’s Dream ‘Fantasy Flare’
©Peter T. Linn

Most splash petal Cattleya hybrids have been derived from the use of Cattleya intermedia var. aquinii. This is a peloric form of the species that exhibits petals that mimic the lip, primarily in color and also in the form of the lip. Since the lip juts out at an angle from the fl ower, the splash petal hybrids tend to have petals that pull forward, instead of being fl at. In extreme cases, the petals can almost touch! Other faults coming from the lip could be ruffl ed petals, cuts in the petals, and petal margins that roll back or petal tips that curl back...


Calling all Paphiophiles
Harold Koopowitz
2 pages, 6 photos

Paph. (Gege Hughes x Ice Galaxy) ‘Pink Wings’ from the Orchid Zone
Paph. (Gege Hughes x Ice Galaxy) ‘Pink Wings’ from the Orchid Zone
©Harold Koopowitz

The Paphiopedilum Guild returned to Santa Barbara this January and the meeting was a very great success. There was an excellent slate of speakers, a very good show of flowers, and some really interesting plants for sale by the vendors. The meeting covered a day and a half with six speakers, a banquet, and visits to local nurseries. The keynote speaker was Olaf Gruss from Germany who covered both the very newly discovered, as well as the oldest known species in the insigne complex...

Fragrance in Orchids…An Ephemeral Enigma
Steven A. Frowine
15 pages, 15 photos
Laelia anceps has a vanilla fragrance.
Laelia anceps has a vanilla fragrance.
©Steven Frowine

Probably most folks are first attracted to the huge vast of fabulous colors and shapes of orchids. But I have observed that shortly after a viewer gasps at these flowers, they next bend over for a smell. Fortunately, many orchids don’t disappoint and offer an enormous array of heady, sweet scents even though there are those that are repugnant. This article just scratches the surface of this intriguing subject.

The Sense of Smell Plays an Important Role in Our Lives

Scent is detected differently by men than women, and every individual experiences it uniquely. What is an alluring scent to one person may be repugnant to another.

The Sense of Smell Institute states in their brochure, Living Well with Your Sense of Smell, “Compared to our other senses, relatively little was known about our sense of smell and it was certainly the one most taken for granted.”

Writers can sometimes express phenomena more clearly to the layperson than a scientist. Helen Keller wrote, “Smell is a potent wizard that transports us across thousands of miles and all the years that we have lived.”...

Paphiopedilum wardii f. atrobrunneum: The Dark Brown Petal Forma of the Species
Harold Koopowitz and Olaf Gruss
2 pages, 4 photos

Paph. wardii f. atrobrunneum
Paph. wardii f. atrobrunneum
©Harold Koopowitz

Usually Paphiopedilum wardii Summerh. comes with petals that are colored a soft beige-green and densely covered with distinct small dark spots. Occasionally the petal tips can be brown. In an earlier publication (Orchid Digest, 2002), it was pointed out that a form with dark brown petals had been noticed in the orchid rescue center at the world famous San Diego Zoo. A seed pod from one of those plants was given to Andy Phillips of Andy’s Orchids and the forma introduced to cultivation. Three different flowers were illustrated in the Orchid Digest at that time. That forma, however, was never officially described. We do so now...


Orchids and Diptera: Sex on the Fly
Carol Siegel
13 pages, 29 photos

Bulbophyllum fletcherianum pollinated by carrion flies.
Bulbophyllum fletcherianum pollinated by carrion flies.
©on Parsons; Grown by Zeon Zhou

The fly swatter is emblematic of how most people feel about flies. Denizens of dung, death, detritus, and dirt, flies are associated with filth and disease. People who swoon over butterflies and stand in admiration of bees feel positively righteous about squashing flies or mosquitoes or pesky gnats. Despite the fact that flies are a unique and intriguing group, most of which have nothing to do with carrion and dung, nobody likes flies, except perhaps orchids. After the Hymenoptera (bees and wasps), the Diptera (true flies) are the most important pollinators of orchids. Van der Pijl and Dodson (1966) estimate that fifteen percent of all orchids are pollinated primarily by flies. According to Dorte Christensen (1994), that number is too conservative; he feels the number is closer to twenty-five percent.

For most people, orchids are beautiful flowers with a luscious smell, lovely colors, and arresting shapes. They wouldn’t seem to attract flies at all. However, many orchids have surprisingly evolved disgusting smells, lurid colors, and weird shapes that imitate just the things that flies love the most. They fool the insects into thinking their stinky flowers are rotting corpses or feces or tasty aphids or fungi, just the things to lap up or give your larvae. Orchids provide (or pretend to offer) precisely the things that attract the Diptera to visit, linger, and, incidentally, pollinate.

Although many orchid genera have a few fl y-pollinated species, four large groups have become predominantly myophilous (adapted to flies for pollination). Fly pollination is the rule in the tropical and almost exclusively epiphytic subtribes Pleurothallidinae in America and Bulbophyllinae in the Old World. Flies rule where it is cool and are particularly abundant at high altitudes and high latitudes where bees are not as common. For example, the Pleurothallidinae are very diverse in cool forests in the mountains where flies are found in greater numbers. Other important myophilous groups include most subtribes of Diurideae in Australia, especially Pterostylidinae and Acianthinae, and some of the pantropical and north temperate Cypripedioideae...


Postcard: Orchids of Borneo
Charles G. Wilson
5 pages, 15 photos

Plocoglottis gigantea
Plocoglottis gigantea
©Charles G. Wilson

Borneo: legendary land of headhunters and steaming tropical jungles. Seven intrepid travelers with the Memphis Zoo’s safari program spent twelve days on an adventure to explore this former British colony. Borneo, the third largest island in the world, straddles the equator between Vietnam and Australia. While the headhunters are gone, steaming jungles and orchids still abound. Our photo expedition was primarily in search of the more than 3,000 species of Bornean orchids, but also watching for the more than 600 bird species was a natural...


When a Lady Saved the Day
Jim Cootes
7 pages, 20 photos

Plocoglottis gigantea
Epiblema grandiflorum
©Ron Parsons

In October/November 2015, well-known author and master photographer Ron Parsons visited Australia for the tenth time since his first trip in 2000. During his stay, he wanted to go to Western Australia, to try and see plants of the West Australian pitcher plant, Cephalotus follicularis, growing in their natural habitat, and the orchid species Epiblema grandiflorum, Pyrorchis forrestii, and Spiculaea ciliata. Anything else which we found along the way was purely a bonus. Luckily for me, Ron asked me to join him in the West, and how could I have refused?...