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Excerpts from

VOLUME 82, NO. 3—July, August, September 2018


Sarcochilus Australis (Lindl.) H. G. Reichb.
Non-Classic Style Hybrids

Peter Adams
11 pages, 24 photos

Sarco. hartmannii ‘Mt. Molloy’
©Peter Adams

Most breeding, exhibition, and writing on the Australian genus Sarcochilus focus on classic, round flowers based on Sarco. hartmannii, Sarco. fitzgeraldii and Sarco. falcatus. They have increased in popularity since the early registration of Sarco. Fitzhart in 1963 by Ira Butler. A recent trend has been to increase the color range in classic hybrids by introducing smaller ‘twig epiphyte’ species into hybrid lines. An account of Australian species and some hybrids were described in Orchid Digest (Nov. 2017).

In the early period of hybridization up to 1972, most hybrids involved the smaller species such as Sarco. australis and Sarco. ceciliae and these did not lead to fast developing lines. A round-shaped flower with filled-in contours and high color are only two of many desirable characteristics. Presentation of racemes and flowers is perhaps the most desirable feature of hybrids, as without it the other characteristics cannot be seen to full advantage. The common presentation in Sarcochilus is for racemes to have flowers radiating in every direction, and only some facing the viewer. How about a hybrid line that naturally has every flower facing the viewer on an arching or pendulous raceme? The species that confers this presentation is Sarco. australis, which is almost impossible to keep in cultivation over hot summers and has had a limited role in hybridization.

Sarcochilus australis is the southernmost Sarcochilus species and grows from the north-west and east coast of Tasmania northwards to the Bass Strait Islands, Victoria, with the northern limit at the Gloucester region in mid-north coast New South Wales. It is a distinctive epiphytic species found on various understory host species in sheltered, cold, and cool temperate shady rainforest, often with a canopy of Eucalyptus, Acacia melanoxylon or other rainforest tree canopy. Many plants are small, with a single growth axis, on minor branches and twigs, but in favorable sites such as the fork of a large tree, they may form large plants with multiple leads. Many plants on twigs fall to the ground, but a large amount of seed leads to replacement by many small seedlings...


Book Review
Charles Parish – Plant Hunter and Botanical Artist In Burma

Dudley Clayton
1 pages, 1 photo

The Ray Society, one of the oldest natural history societies that counted Charles Darwin, Richard Owens, and Prince Albert amongst its early members, has published, for the first time, Charles Parish’s orchid paintings. Parish (1822-1897) was an English army chaplain who served in Myanmar (then known as Burma) in the mid-1800s. He was fascinated by geology and natural history, in particular, orchids. Parish collected orchids for the Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew and the orchid nursery of Messrs. Hugh Low & Co. Herbarium specimens of these are mostly stored in the Reichenbach herbarium at Vienna. Over 100 of them are the type specimens for those species. He was a major contributor to our knowledge of the orchids of Southeast Asia, discovering many new species during his travels. Parish was an accomplished botanical illustrator and left a legacy of watercolor paintings in two bound volumes that have been kept in the archives at Kew. Many of the paintings are of the type specimens. Parish spent more than 25 years in Burma before he retired and returned to the British Isles.

For the first time, these paintings are assembled into a single volume together with a biography of the man and descriptions of the species...

A Visit To Colombian Cattleyas
Helmut H. Popper, M.D.
10 pages, 28 photos, 5 graphs

C. trianae along the way from Pitalito to San Agostin;
the picture shows the typical color; altitude 1,500 meters (4,921 feet).
©Helmut Popper

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...

Growing Australian Dendrobiums:
An Interview with Fred Clarke
Phyllis S. Prestia
7 pages, 18 photos

Den. Brimbank Fire (Ray’s Dream × speciosum ‘Dark Purple’)
is an example of the breeding for bicolor flowers.
©Fred Clarke

I can’t help but notice that it’s a perfect Southern California day. The sky is cloudless and deep blue; the temperature is a balmy 75°F with a gentle ocean breeze. The sun is shining as I pull into the driveway of Sunset Valley Orchids in Vista, California. I’m here to interview Fred Clarke, master hybridizer, respected orchidologist, creator of Fredclarkeara After Dark ‘Black Pearl’ FCC/AOS (one of the first “black orchids”) and an all-around great guy. I don’t hesitate to leave this beautiful day outside because I’m entering the greenhouse world of some fantastic orchids. Today we’re talking about Fred’s breeding program of Australian dendrobiums, with the specific purpose of understanding their cultural needs...


Ant Pollination of Dactylorhiza viridis
Jean Claessens and Bernhard Seifert
5 pages, 9 photos

A honeybee, Apis mellifera,
with a pollinarium on its forehead searching for nectar.
©Jean Claessens

Dactylorhiza viridis is generally pollinated by Coleoptera (beetles) and Hymenoptera (sawflies, wasps, bees, and ants). This orchid offers nectar at the lip base as well as in the spur. In the Dolomites, a calcareous mountain region in Italy, we found reasonable numbers of Dact. viridis, all growing in the vicinity of nests of the ant Formica (Coptoformica) exsecta. The ants had discovered the nectar of the orchid as a supplemental food source and acted as pollinators of Dact. viridis, carrying, on average, three pollinaria on their head. Their repeated visits led to a high degree of geitonogamy. This is the first mention of ant pollination of Dact. viridis.

Ant pollination is a rare event; ants are considered to be nectar robbers and not suitable pollinators. There is hardly any mention of ant pollination in orchids. In Europe, there is only one orchid known where ants play a significant role in pollination (Chamorchis alpina), although not exclusively. To our great surprise, in the Dolomites (Italy), we found ants pollinating another orchid, Dactylorhiza viridis. In this article, we will discuss the pollination strategy of the orchid and the behavior of the ants. This article is a reduced version of a manuscript originally published in Tuexenia (Claessens and Seifert 2017).

Dactylorhiza viridis, the Frog Orchid, formerly called Coeloglossum viride, can be found in a great variety of habitats and has a circumboreal distribution. It is a quite inconspicuous, an entirely green orchid with two to six alternate leaves. The lower ones are ovate; the upper ones are smaller and lanceolate. The flower spike can be entirely green, but often has a tinge of olive, brown, or reddish-brown. Montane plants tend to have more strongly colored flowers. The perianth segments form a closed hood, protecting the underlying column. The lip can vary in color, from yellow-green to reddish-brown. The basal central part is generally lighter colored. The lip is arching downwards and is three-lobed with a very short median lobe. The spur is short, sack-shaped and much shorter than the ovary. Nectar is produced in the spur and at the spur base, left and right of the spur entrance...

Phragmipedium christiansenianum O. GRUSS & ROETH
Olaf Gruss
3 pages, 7 photos

Phrag. christiansenianum
©Olaf Gruss

Phragmipedium christiansenianum O. GRUSS & ROETH
Die Orchidee 52 (1): 76; 2001 and Appendix; Die Orchidee 52 (2): 174; 2001

Geographical Distribution:
The exact geographic distribution of the species is unknown. It was named after Hans Christiansen and assumed that this species grew in Colombia. However, according to Roberto Takase, this species is found in the State of Rondônia, Brazil.

Habitat: unknown

Climate: unknown

In 2000, during a comparison of orchid species between the Scandinavian and German Orchid Societies in Fredensborg, Denmark, Olaf Gruss discovered in the collection of Hans Christiansen a blooming plant of the genus Phragmipedium. This plant clearly differed from all other known species of this genus. According to the cultivator, the plant arrived in 1990, most likely from Colombia and was cultivated and propagated as a compact Phrag. longifolium. The plants proved to be homozygous. This would suggest that. Phrag. christiansenianum is really a distinct species and not a hybrid.
Therefore, Olaf Gruss and Jürgen Röth decided to describe the plant as a distinct species and to name it after the successful cultivator from Denmark. They hoped through the publication to receive additional information regarding the origin and location of the species.
Almost at the same time, Roberto Takase reported on a plant from his homeland, Brazil, which in appearance is identical to the plant from Denmark. Therefore, it is likely that the origin of the species is Brazil...