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Excerpts from

VOLUME 82, NO. 2—April, May, June 2018

 

The Role of Pollen in Orchid Sex
Carol Siegel
18 pages, 29 photos


©Zong-Xin


©Eric Hunt

Pollinium of Satyrium nepalense var. ciliatum (Satyrium ciliatum) and the flower.

When my mother told my four-year-old sister that she was pregnant with me, my sister asked, “How did you get pollinated?” We never knew how she arrived at that botanical conclusion, but uncertainty about the nature of pollination has puzzled people for thousands of years. Despite the fact that sex in animals has been known since the Neolithic period, at least fourteen thousand years, sex in plants remained a mystery until the late 17th century and was hotly debated for 150 years after that. Even today, people are still ignorant about plant reproduction. Before entering an exhibition on pollination at the National Zoo in Washington, 100 visitors were surveyed to see what they knew about pollination. Seventy percent failed to connect pollen with plant reproduction. One hundred people were surveyed as they exited the exhibition, and, dishearteningly, 70% still failed to connect pollen with plant sex. For most people, pollen was just the annoying cause of allergies in the spring and not part of a plant’s male sex organ.

A fascinating new book (Taiz 2017) Flora Unveiled: The Discovery & Denial of Sex in Plants explores why people denied plant sexuality for so long. One striking reason was the ancient and persistent association of plants with women and the bias about gender roles which colored the discussion of plant sex. From the earliest times, women served as wild plant gatherers, crop domesticators, and farmers and became entangled in the ideas about plants. The strong association between women and flowers is shown in the Egyptian hieroglyphic symbol for a woman in which a woman is shown smelling a flower. In ancient myths and religions, female goddesses were strongly identified with trees, flowers, and crop abundance. The Sumerian goddess Inanna, the Egyptian cow goddess Hathor, and the Greek goddess Aphrodite all protected the harvests, watched over trees and plants, and were associated with the purity and chastity of flowers. The goddess Demeter protected the grain harvest, and her daughter Persephone made the plants grow. From the Neolithic period, thousands of small nude statues have been discovered with big bellies, large breasts, and seeds pressed into their clay. Some figurines are shaped like a vase with long necks and a swollen base like the style of a flower attached to its ovary. Even as far back as the Upper Paleolithic, 35,000 years ago, there are cave paintings showing three symbols of a vulva and one of a flower. This striking illustration shows just how long plants have been closely associated with females and their fertility. The idea that flowers were not only female but male, too, seemed counter-intuitive...

 

George Hatfield on Cymbidiums
Heidi Kirkpatrick
5 pages, 11 photos


Cym. Judith Wooldridge ‘Hatfield’s’ AM/AOS, S/CSA (Fourty Shades of Green × devonianum), exhibited by Hatfield Orchids, won the Reserve Champion Cymbidium at the 2015 Santa Barbara International Orchid Show. It had 59 green flowers with contrasting red lip on four pendulous inflorescences.
©Arthur Pinkers

George Hatfield is well-accustomed to leading in the orchid world. The immediate past president of the American Orchid Society (AOS) has also presided over the Cymbidium Society of America (CSA), the Cymbidium Congress, the Santa Barbara International Orchid Show board, and several local societies. He is an accredited judge for both the AOS and the CSA, and he has served as CSA Judging Chair.

Through it all, he has continued the role that drew him into prominence in the orchid world, that of cymbidium hybridizer. George’s hybrids have received numerous AOS and CSA awards, and he has hybridized and exhibited multiple winners of the prestigious Grand Champion Cymbidium at the cymbidium-heavy Santa Barbara International Orchid Show. He travels around the country and overseas giving lectures on hybridizing pendulous cymbidiums...

 
 
Cypripedium calceolus in the Valley of the Tyrolean River and in the Lower Valley of Niederhausen
Olaf Gruss
Translation: Judith Rapacz-Hasler
4 pages, 13 photos


Population of Cyp. calceolus.
©Olaf Gruss



For decades I have been dreaming of being able to visit and photograph cattleyas in their natural habitat in Colombia and to learn about their needs for successful cultivation. The major problem was that all of them were growing in areas held by the guerillas. After the peace treaty between the Colombian government and the FARC in 2016, the time had come. With the help of Pepe Portilla (Ecuagenera), the tour was planned, and arrangements made so I could hire a driver and guide. In October 2017, I, at last, arrived in Colombia. There was only one city I had to see before going into the rural areas; this was Cartagena de Indias.The old city is one of UNESCO´s world heritage sites.

Finally, I arrived in Medellin, met my driver and guide, and we started the first tour. We drove to Santa Fe de Antioquia, and from there we followed the main road to Dabeiba, hoping to find Cattleya aurea. I will use Cattleya aurea instead of Cattleya dowiana var. aurea. Both C. dowiana in Costa Rica and C. aurea in Colombia have been isolated for a long time and might, therefore, have developed into separate species. Until whole genome sequencing has proven that both share an identical genome, I will use this name.

Three locations have been described for C. aurea: Dabeiba and north to Mutata, along the Atrato river to the west, and Quibdo to Tado to the southwest. Information is scarce for the Atrato river area as there are no roads and exploration can only happen by boat, so I decided to keep that for another trip. The area from Quibdo to Tado would not be easy to reach within my limited time frame, so the decision was to explore a bit of the area from Dabeiba to Mutata. While driving from Santa Fe de Antioquia to Dabeiba, you cross over the western Cordillera. On the road down to Dabeiba, we saw C. warscewiczii from an altitude of 1,700 meters to 1,200 meters (5,577-3,937 feet). There were plants in gardens of people living along the street and plants on large trees. The flowering time for C. warscewiczii is April to May. However, we could see some flowering now in mid-October. Along the way from Dabeiba to Mutata (400 meters [1,312 feet]) we could not find a single C. aurea in the main valley, so the next morning, we returned to Dabeiba to try one of the side valleys. Later we were told we should have moved further down into the lowland to an altitude of 250-300 meters (250-984 feet) where we might have seen plants...

 
Studies in Oberonia: An Herbarium of Cultivated Orchids: Why and How
Daniel L. Geiger
7 pages, 4 photos


Some fluid preserved specimens. In the center, a scintillation vial with white polypropylene lid, and a tall glass vial with black Bakelite® lid. On the left are multiple small samples, stored together in a larger, flooded glass jar. Larger samples are in their individual jars. On the right of the herbarium sheet is a voucher of Ob. maxima from Geiger (2016) with habit, z-stack of inflorescence, and a SEM image.
©Daniel Geiger

An herbarium is a collection of preserved plants, usually pressed and dried, but may also contain plant material in fluids and even microscope preparations. Typically, plants in an herbarium are wild-collected and provide records of when which species was living where. Cultivated plants are generally considered inferior herbarium specimens because they were not collected in the wild, and, accordingly, cannot provide data on where and when a particular species lived. There is an implicit concern that cultivation may change the attributes of a species, or that hybrids may enter a collection. Most institutional herbaria I have visited contain some specimens from cultivated plants; hence, there are plenty of precedents.

Here I want to make a case for herbarium specimens from cultivated plants. While they cannot replace traditional wild-collected herbarium specimens, they may add supplementary information not available from wild-collected gatherings...

 

2018 Paphiopedilum Guild and The Second International World Slipper Orchid Conference Hilo, Hawaii
David Sorokowsky
4 pages, 16 photos


Harold Koopowitz
©Steve Gollis


Wenqing Perner,
Hengduan Mountains Biotechnology
©Steve Gollis


Jose (Pepe) Portilla,
Ecuagenera
©Steve Gollis

Phillip Cribb
©Steve Gollis

Alexej Popow, Popow Orchids
Yuan-Chuan Hsaio,
In-Charm Orchids
©Steve Gollis

What a fantastic time on the Big Island! The week started with nursery visits offering us a chance to expand our collections. You know, there’s always room for one (or six) more. Throw in a fast-paced auction, a wonderful dinner, and a surprise entertainer, Charlene Asato’s cousin Paul Ogata, with some brilliant stand-up comedy. Charlene is Graham Wood’s (Lehua Orchids) better half. Also, none of us will forget the unplanned excitement of a ballistic missile scare. That happened on Saturday morning and left us wondering about our survival for 40 long minutes. I know that’s all anyone seemed interested in hearing about when I returned home.

The event kicked off with American Orchid Society judging on Friday afternoon. It may have been worth the trip to Hilo just to see what the Big Island’s best growers had to show off, somewhere in the neighborhood of 70 impressive entries. The judges were kept busy measuring and writing descriptions as 24 awards were given. Graham Wood of Lehua Orchids led the way with twelve plants awarded. Congratulations Graham!

The impressive lineup of speakers began with Harold Koopowitz. Harold gave a brief review of the eight new Paphiopedilum species described in 2017. Some of these looked very tempting, especially for those with busy toothpicks. Unfortunately, it will probably be quite a while before they legally make their way into the USA...