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Excerpts from

VOLUME 81, NO. 4—October, November, December 2017


Calling all Paphiophiles
Harold Koopowitz
3 pages, 8 photos


Paph. insigne
©Harold Koopowitz

Everything is gearing up for an exceptional Second World Slipper Orchid Conference (WSOC) in Hawai’i, January 12th through 14th in 2018. You don’t want to miss out. With speakers from around the world talking about their plants and selling the latest slippers, plants, and flasks, this is an opportunity not to be missed. More information is available at orchiddigest.org. The modest registration fee increases drastically after December first, so be sure to register early. The hotel has a special deal as well, allowing three days before and after the conference at the lower conference rate. What better time to vacation in Hawai’i than the middle of winter. The first WSOC was a great success. We expect this one to be even better....


Slipper Orchids of the Tropical Americas
by Phillip Cribb and Christopher Purver

Nat. Hist. Publ. with the Orchid Digest and Royal. Bot. Gardens, Kew. 281pages, hardbound with 36 color art plates, 209 figures, most of which are color photographs, 34 locality maps. $115 plus handling and postage, only available in North and South America through www.orchiddigest.org
Harold Koopowitz
1 pages, 1 photo

I must admit that I am biased in favor of this book. I have been after Phillip Cribb to deal with the taxonomy of Phragmipedium for several decades, and I am delighted with the results. It was no simple task because the species’ boundaries between many of the Phrag. species are not clear, and there is considerable variation within each species; Phil has sorted it all out.

There has long been a need for an authoritative monograph on the Neotropical slipper orchids in English, and this want has been beautifully filled by the new book by Cribb and Purver. Phillip Cribb needs no introduction as he is perhaps the most reputable taxonomic authority on the slipper orchid genera. His previous books on cypripedium and paphiopedilum are the standard reference works and have gone through a number of editions. Now he covers Mexipedium, Selenipedium, and Phragmipedium. Chris Purver is director of the Eric Young Orchid Foundation on the isle of Jersey. He is well known as a cultivator and hybridizer of both phragmipediums and paphiopedilums, earning awards for his slippers from the Royal Horticultural Society. Chris discusses the culture and breeding of phragmipediums.

The species are illustrated, many with the beautiful botanical paintings of Carol Woodin, currently one of the top botanical artists in the USA. There are close-up photographs and in situ photos of the plants. Line drawings are used to display the finer points of each species, and there are even locality maps helpful if you wish to try and find them in the wild. The book is superbly illustrated.

The introduction covers the fascinating history of the South American slipper orchids and explains the myriad name changes as the early taxonomists tried to sort out a group that was once lumped into Cypripedium. It is hard to believe that two species that we currently call Phragmipedium boisserianum and Phragmipedium caudatum were painted as early as 1787 although they were not officially described until much later. I usually don’t bother with introductions in books, but this one contains information that helps one understand the history of how and why the generic names were changed.

The book proper starts with the usual chapters on morphology and anatomy, but here they are short and succinct. Amateur breeders will like the following chapter on cytology as it lists all of the chromosome numbers of the species. The numbers vary from species to species, and this can be useful for explaining sterility problems in breeding beyond the first generation. A page and a half describe pollination in the wild. A chapter on species distribution follows as well as chapters on conservation, ecology, and evolution. Two cladograms show the
possible relationships and evolution within the genus Phragmipedium. All of the preceding only takes up the first forty pages of the volume. The bulk of the book is an examination of the individual species.

Following the taxonomic treatment of the species, there is a chapter on the eight known natural hybrids. Color illustrations in the chapter on artificial hybrids demonstrate why these hybrids are so popular with modern day hobby growers. The chapter on cultivation succinctly shows how to succeed in growing these plants.

The book ends with an extensive bibliography, and a list of all the herbarium specimens examined. This shows how thorough the authors were in their research and lends great confidence in their work.

Not only is this book an important reference, but it is readable and beautifully put together; there is even a fixed ribbon to help keep your place. The book was published as a limited edition and is expected to go out of print in the near future and will increase in value. The book is highly recommended for all lovers of the slipper orchid alliance and anyone who has a library and prizes excellent orchid books.

An Introduction to the Vanda Section Deltoglossae
Philippe Christophe
14 pages, 38 photos

Vanda arcuata
©Philippe Christophe

Vanda dearei
©Z. Abidin Bin Othman

This article is an insight into Vanda section Deltoglossae, through descriptions of the different species and the main varieties and forms as well as their shared characteristics and their habitat.

The section Deltoglossae
The plants of the section Deltoglossae are among the most attractive and fascinating of the genus Vanda, yet they are seldom found outside of Asia, if not outside of Indonesia and Malaysia. They are rarely cultivated, with the noteworthy exception of Vanda tricolor and, to a lesser extent, Vanda helvola, Vanda luzonica and Vanda merrillii.
The taxonomist Eric A. Christenson recognized the trilobed and fleshy column as well as the deltate-like (shaped like an equilateral triangle) lip midlobe as the main characteristics common to the whole section. They are robust, big-sized plants which bear flowers measuring on average 4 to 6 cm and are frequently fragrant...

Vandaceous Hybridizing at R. F. Orchids
Robert Fuchs
9 pages, 27 photos

V. Diana Tamayo (Liz Letzler × Mollie Zweig)
©RF Orchids

My interest in vandas and their relatives has been a lifelong passion. These stunning orchids bloom in a wider range of colors and patterns than any other group and I have devoted decades to breeding better vandaceous orchids.

But what constitutes better vandas? Classic vandas generally have very large flowers, but the plants are usually very large as well, often too large for growers without big greenhouses. Most of the classic hybrids come in a very limited range of colors and many bloom, only once– twice if you’re lucky–a year. So, my goal has always been to create hybrids with relatively large, long-lasting flowers on smaller plants, in clear, vibrant colors, and to see these improved flowers several times a year. Ideally, I want to overcome the shortcomings of the ancestral species, using combinations that present the best qualities and diminish the less desirable ones.

Classic vandas have two main species in their ancestry: Vanda sanderiana and Vanda coerulea, with distant influences from just a few other species in the genus. Vanda sanderiana is a large plant with large flowers, but the inflorescence is typically crowded and, while the flowers are usually round and flat, there’s a distinct difference in the size of the flowers from the bottom to the top of the inflorescence. The substance can be good, and color and pattern in the best examples are very attractive. Vanda coerulea, on the other hand, has much better flower spacing on a longer inflorescence, but the substance is typically thin. In the best cultivars, the intense blue-violet color and beautiful tessellated markings are extremely desirable...


Miniature and Compact Vandaceous Hybrids
Peter T. Lin
8 pages, 32 photos

Vanda falcata ‘Toyozakura’ HCC/AOS
© Peter T. Lin

With ever burgeoning collections and smaller growing spaces, miniature and smaller growing orchids have become more and more popular! Just as there are miniature Cattleya and Phalaenopsis hybrids, there are also small growing Vanda hybrids. Although most of these hybrids do not resemble the larger, round-flowered Vanda hybrids, they make up for it with a wide range of colors, number of flowers, and a charm of their own. The other advantage of these smaller growing hybrids is that they are more cold-tolerant. Due to some of the cooler growing species in the background of these hybrids, the plants do not require constant warmth, especially at night. The root systems are much easier to contain in a pot, so you don’t have to deal with hanging plants with roots down to the floor!...

Vanda (Neofinetia) falcata Hybrids
Jason Fischer
7 pages, 23 photos

Vanda falcata ‘Shutennou
©Jason Fischer

According to Julian Shaw of the Royal Horticultural Society International Orchid Register, there a re currently 95 hybrids made with Neofinetia falcata and many second generations beyond that. OK, I know these are now technically ‘Vanda’ hybrids…but vanda is too vague and much too broad of a genus name to introduce this particular plant. Also, the shortened genus name “neo” has become the norm amongst collectors. Neofinetia falcata has grabbed the attention of orchid aficionado on a larger scale than ever over the past 20 years. What started out as a small, luxurious house plant in East Asia in the 1800s (documented back to at least the 1600s in illustrations) has now become a favorite orchid that is recognized world-wide. Its compact size, flowers with a variety of fragrances, foliage patterns, and root tip colors have collectors trying to “catch them all” as if they were the Pokemon of orchids. There should be, by now, an app for these plants to stare at on our cell phones. How do they influence Vandaceous hybrids? The short answer is, with dominance. All Neofinetia hybrids, no matter how large the other parental unit is, end up significantly shrinking in size both foliar and flower-wise, showing the falcata dominance. And, often with the added benefit of fragrance. Once a first generation falcata hybrid is back-crossed onto falcata once again, many of the crosses start to resemble the original species, often with stronger colored flowers. Also, the multi-growth habit of Neofinetia falcata also carries over, making the crosses very floriferous once they reach a specimen size with multiple growths. The only flaw with these hybrids, in my opinion, is that some of them come out with missing or fused petals and sepals. Let’s take a look at some of the offspring of Neofinetia falcata. Since species purity is being set aside from this point, I will use Vanda falcata for proper hybrid nomenclature....


Sarcochilus Breeding and Culture

Scott Barrie
8 pages, 22 photos

Sarco. Kurumba ‘Orange Salmon’
©Scott Barrie

Sarco. Kulnura Kaleidescope ‘Orange Light’
©Scott Barrie

Sarco. Bunyip ‘Apricot’
©Scott Barrie

There has been a rapid growth in the number of Sarcochilus hybrids in recent years. This has been driven by the diversity of colors now available. Where once there was only white, we now see many more opportunities.

Section: Orange
The orange line appeared in crosses made with pink and red parents, Sarco. Bunyip (Sarco. Heidi × Sarco. Karen Ann) and Sarco. Kurumba (Sarco. Victor × Sarco. Heidi). Although not known at the time of making, both these parents contained recessive red and yellow genes. We believe that the presence of these genes allowed the expression of orange to be revealed. This line has stabilized and is proving to be predictable, with the added interest of the alba yellow being associated with it. This is best demonstrated by Sarco. Kulnura Kaleidescope ‘Orange Light’ (Sarco. Bunyip × Sarco. Kurumba) is comprised of hartmannii, fitzgeraldii, hirticalcar, and falcatus...


Sarcochilus Species
Compiled by Sandra Tillisch Svoboda
8 pages, 35 photos, 4 tables

Sarcochilus ceciliae
©Jonathan Cara

Sarcochilus roseus
©Jonathan Cara

Sarcochilus R. Br., Prodr. Fl. Nov. Holland.: 332 (1810).

Subfamily: Epidendroideae
Tribe: Vandae
Subtribe: Aeridinae

Type Species: Sarchochilus falcatus R.Br., Prodr. Fl. Nov. Holland.: 332 (1810).

Etymology: From the Greek sarcos (fleshy) and cheilos (lip), referring to the distinctive form of the lip.

General Description: Epiphytic or lithophytic herbs. Roots smooth. Stem leafy, covered with leaf bases. Leaves few, distichous, coriaceous, linear, ligulate, obovate or oblong-elliptic, often falcate, unequally bilobed at apex, articulated at base to sheath. Inflorescences axillary, erect to pendent, usually from basal part of stem, simple, few- to several-flowered, usually as long as or longer than leaves, rarely much shorter; bracts triangular, sheathing. Flowers usually flat or campanulate; pedicel and rachis as long as or longer than sepals. Sepals and petals similar, free, spreading, white to olive, sometimes spotted with red. Labellum smaller than sepals, trilobed, spurred at base, side lobes erect around column, hairy or glabrous; spur tapering to rounded tip, callus lobed, on back wall within spur. Column terete; pollinia four, ovoid, in two unequally sized pairs, stipe narrowly to broadly spatulate, viscidium elliptic to oblong...