Call for photos of our meetings and members! Everybody has pictures of pretty orchids, but for our
publicity and outreach activities, we need pictures of happy orchid enthusiasts, interacting with each other and their plants. Get out your cell phone, snap some candid (unposed) shots, and email them to the web master. Thanks for your help!
Do you have old issues of Awards Quarterly? We need the years 1972-1980, 1986, 1988-1989, 1992-1994 as part of our project to track down Long Beach AOS awards information that didn't find its way into the current AOS awards database. Any issues we can recover will be donated to the library of the Los Angeles Arboretum, to complete their collection — this library has by far the best collection of orchid books and journals that is easily accessible to the public in Southern California. Contact the web master. We are grateful for your support in this project!
A Big Project: Tracking Down Old Orchid Awards!
When we started digging into the history of South Coast Orchid Society, we learned about our members from the past. Many of them turned out to be important players in the development of modern orchid hybrids. We wanted to know more about their plants.
Gradually, starting about August, 2021, we have been able to track down the awards from Long Beach judging. At first it was a slow and confusing process. There were multiple sources to be checked, for the most part not indexed, and sometimes with glaring discrepancies and errors. We gradually worked out a process for recovering the data as efficiently as possible, and began to understand the limitations of each source.
Where to find our Long Beach and Southern California awards project: click HERE! Links are provided to Long Beach ODC awards 1954-1967 and their few surviving photos, Long Beach AOS awards 1968-1980, and all other Southern California AOS awards 1950-1968. The web pages will be updated with additional photographs and information as they are discovered.
The story of Long Beach judging begins in late 1954, when SCOS members voted to go ahead with a request to start official Orchid Digest Corporation judging in conjunction with our monthly meetings.
At first, SCOS recruited judges from the Orchid Society of Southern California who had been accredited by Orchid Digest Corporation – most of whom were already members of SCOS as well. The first official Long Beach judging session was held at our December, 1954 meeting, and duly reported in the form of a summary of the meeting published in Orchid Digest, prepared by our Secretary at that time, Elva "Tommy" Hanes.
Our meetings had been scheduled, from the very beginning, to be held on the fourth Monday of the month, exactly two weeks after the monthly OSSC meetings, so that no matter when your fabulous orchid came into bloom, you could show it off at some Southern California orchid club. Consequently, many people joined both societies and regularly attended both sets of meetings. In those days, the freeways were not crowded; it was considered normal to drive down to Long Beach from Canoga Park every month for the SCOS meeting (as Grayce and Adolph Hecker did), or in the reverse direction, from Long Beach to the OSSC meeting site in Fiesta Hall at Plummer Park in Hollywood (now part of West Hollywood). One consequence of this arrangement is that the history of Southern California orchid activities is not a history of separate societies, but rather a history of a network of individuals and societies who collaborated freely to improve their knowledge, skills, and resources.
Soon, we starting growing our own judges, through the same process that is still used today in AOS judging. Generations of judges, first under Orchid Digest Corporation standards, and then in 1968, after the two judging systems were merged, under American Orchid Society standards (which had become nearly identical by then anyway), studied and “mentored” under SCOS judges such as John Hanes, Glenn Hamilton, Woody Wilson, A. G. Tharp, and many others.
The development of judges and judging was easily found in our old newsletters and in Orchid Digest and the AOS Bulletin, although there are still some aspects that are murkey. But we had more trouble finding the actual awards.
For ODC awards, a large bundle of SCOS newsletters, donated to ODC by Rita Crothers and now in the “Orchid Archive” at The Huntington Botanical Center, plus additional award lists published in Orchid Digest, gave us a nearly complete list (about 85%) of the ODC awards for Long Beach covering 1954-1967. That was a good start!
Long Beach AOS awards, 1968 to the present, have proved more difficult. The awards were published mainly in a separate journal, Awards Quarterly, but when those awards were transcribed and entered into the first AOS awards database, and then propagated through several generations of databases down to the current one, OrchidPro, all sorts of errors crept in. Those errors proved so pervasive, we estimate that they have affected about 18% of all Long Beach AOS awards 1968-1980, making many of the awards unfindable or misleading.
When AOS started developing an awards database, the intention was probably to create a complete inventory, very similar to the information found in the Register of Awards, covering all awards up through 1968, and in Awards Quarterly, covering all awards 1969 through about 2006, but in a searchable format. However, the task seems to have become too daunting, so that a very large group of awards, from about 1950 through the mid 1960’s, now appear in OrchidPro with only very limited information: the name of the plant, the award, the award number, which includes the year of the award, and occasionally, the official award photo. Missing from this group of awards are the name of the exhibitor, the place where the award was conferred, the date of the award, and all descriptive information and measurements. In effect, these are place-holder entries, likely considered a temporary expedient until someone had time to enter complete information. The missing information, of course, can generally be found in the Register of Awards and Awards Quarterly, although there was a period when HCC/AOS awards were not required to include descriptions or measurements.
One feature of the older awards would have created difficulties for data entry: For the early years, measurements were recorded in inches, to the nearest 1⁄16th inch. Current practice expresses measurements in centimeters, to the nearest millimeter. The best way to approach this problem would be to use a spreadsheet or customized data entry screen that converts the measurements automatically from inches to centimeters. When the first database was created, such a tool was likely unavailable, another reason to bypass these records.
It is important to note the sequence in which the various sources were generated or published: For Long Beach, the award was made at our monthly meeting, slides were prepared, labeled, and sent to AOS headquarters or otherwise distributed. The information was generally published in our newsletter for the following month. After the information reached AOS headquarters, there might be a delay until an award fee was paid by the exhibitor, and an additional delay if the award was for a hybrid that had not yet been registered with the Royal Horticultural Society. After the completion of those formalities, the awards were reported in the AOS Bulletin (this practice was discontinued in 1975). The next step was publication in the Register of Awards (for awards up to the end of 1968) or Awards Quarterly (for awards from 1968 through about 2006, when Awards Quarterly was discontinued — by then, all awards were entered directly into a database). The last step was entering the information into whatever database was in use at the time. Errors might and actually did occur at each step along the way. The information the Register of Awards was very closely edited, although we discovered a few errors there that seem not to have been noticed before. Editing of Awards Quarterly, at least in its early years, was far less careful, resulting in the creation of many duplicate award numbers, date errors, and all sorts of other problems that were compounded when the information was transfered to a database. We found it essential to review all of the published sources to be sure we had found the correct information.
Some of the original award notices in the AOS Bulletin were accompanied by small black and white photos, generally cropped to show a single flower. At various times, those photos became extremely scarce for Southern California awards. These photos were often copied when the same awards were reported in the Register of Awards or in Awards Quarterly. However, these black and white photos were extremely rare or did not appear at all in some years for Southern California judging sites, while photos from judging in the rest the of country appeared frequently. Eventually, complaints mounted, to the point where they were mentioned in the AOS Bulletin, with the admonition that the required 12 duplicates of the color slide plus one black and white photo had to be received by a deadline at the offices of AOS at Harvard University, Cambridge, MA. What was the problem? Did someone on the west coast have the wrong mailing address, so that the photos ended up in the wrong mail slot at Harvard? Or was the mail, and communication generally, just too slow in those days? In any case, those rare black and white photos, when they can be found, have proven to be extremely useful in confirming that color images found elsewhere are in fact the official award photos. In a very few cases, even the black and white photo accompanying the first publication of an award had turned out to be incorrectly identified, by comparison with the award description published at the same time.
Thus, when we began looking for AOS awards involving some of our notable SCOS members from the past, there were big gaps. OrchidPro could not tell us about the early awards to say, John Hanes, or Imogene and Carl Keyes, because the names of the exhibitors, as well as the date and location, were almost always omitted.
After developing a “complete” list of Long Beach AOS awards and retrieving as many award photos as possible from a variety of sources (a major source proved to be the old collection of award slides maintained by the Pacific South regional judging program, now at The Huntington Botanical Center), we turned our attention to the rest of Southern California. Was it possible to find out what SCOS members had been doing before AOS judging started at Long Beach?
After thinking about the problem, we realized that it should be possible to enter key data from the Register of Awards (the original volume plus the six “Supplements”) into a spreadsheet, and then use spreadsheet “formulas” to generate the text and HTML code required to format the information for a web page. Oddly, the idea worked the first time, and we now have a comprehensive list of Southern California AOS awards 1950-1968, with all of the exhibitors and locations and with as many photos as we could find in published sources. One big part of this project remains, to search for the remaining Southern California award photos in the Pacific South awards slide collection. How far back do the award slides go? We don’t know yet!
However, a number of award slides ended up in the hands of AOS judges, and many have since been donated to OrchidWiz. Only a minority of the images in OrchidWiz are official award photos, but a significant number of them can be identified as such, from other information. In many cases, we can match the OrchidWiz photo with a black and white image published in the AOS Bulletin, or with an image from OrchidPro. The OrchidWiz images are generally much better scans of the original slides than the scans in OrchidPro, as many of the latter seem to have been created using very early scanning technology. Many of the OrchidWiz award images turn out to be mirror images of the photos in OrchidPro or the award slides — not everyone knew which sides of the slide were properly the "front" and "back", and how to orient the slide in the scanner!
From the photos in OrchidWiz that can be identified as real award photos, and from occasional mentions in the old SCOS newsletters and elsewhere, we know that color slides were being made during judging sessions as early as the 1950’s, and that, by the 1960’s, there was already a requirement to supply 12 copies of the award slides, plus a black and white photographic print, to AOS headquarters. The 12 duplicate slides were to be distributed to judging centers and also loaned out to local societies for their own use. Additional duplicates might have been made at the same time for use by local judges or influential nurserymen. Consequently, award slides probably ended up all over the US. Whether there is a complete archive of the “original” slides at AOS headquarters, we don’t yet know.
At least for the Pacific South region, the quality of the slides is generally very good — we were able to obtain stunning digital images using an inexpensive portable scanner — but a large number suffer from technical issues: some are badly overexposed, especially for white flowers, and require additional work to recover a good image. Others, especially red flowers, are badly oversaturated. A great number have an overall blue tone that needs to be removed to recover something closer to realistic color. A few slides are spoiled by small blue or purple spots, presumably due to splatter of some sort of chemical during the process of making the duplicate slides.
Also, whole groups of slides are missing: all of the early Lycaste awards, all awards for the remarkable Cymbidium hybrid Lillian Stewart, all awards for some of the famous Cattleya hybrids such as Bonanza and Bob Betts, etc. Were those slides “borrowed” at some point by someone who was preparing articles for publication in the AOS Bulletin or Orchid Digest, and never returned? Do the missing slides still exist in other archives, and can we find them before those collections are discarded as “obsolete”? At least until all of the images can be properly scanned and added to OrchidPro, they are an important resource and need to be preserved by all of the judging centers and other institutions that may have them!
The skills of the photographers varied tremendously as well. By about 1950, there was plenty of advice for aspiring orchid photographers. A notable example is the extremely successful commercial photographer Valentino Sarra, who, once he had encountered orchids, became an expert grower and a collaborator in some commercial orchid ventures. He wrote about the difficulties of lighting, backgrounds, and all the technical details and tricks that could be used to produce satisfying images of the most difficult flowers. Some of the award photographers in our area took these lessons to heart, others did not. The problem is especially noticeable for Phalaenopsis flowers, which were almost always photographed as a spray, rather than an individual flower. Some photographers used careful lighting from one side, which emphasizes the texture and contours of the flowers; others apparently used lighting from the front, which almost always produces a washed-out image. Controlling the depth of focus, through a combination of light intensity and the f stop, was another obvious difficulty, which some photographers used to advantage, while others did not.
In spite of these problems, the new scans from the Pacific South award slides have yielded many images that are far superior to those now in OrchidPro, as well as many excellent images that are not found in OrchidPro at all.
Now, at last, we can begin to recreate that long parade of stunning plants that was displayed at our meetings, as well as the plants that built the well-deserved reputations of some of our most energetic and innovative members from the past. There is much to learn from these pictures and the lists of awards. We hope the information we have recovered will point the way to improvements in future generations of the AOS awards database. We think the record of awarded plants and the remarkable people who produced them is worth preserving.
During our project to recover the orchid awards associated with SCOS, first under Orchid Digest Corporation standards from December, 1954 through December, 1967, and then from January, 1968 right down to the present under American Orchid Society standards, we were surprised to find a large number of awards for Ascocendas. The Ascocendas awarded in Long Beach were stunning! Rarely seen these days, at least in our area, Ascocendas used to play a starring role. Hybrids of Ascocentrum and Vanda, they produced beautiful round flowers in jewel tones, from small Vanda-like plants. They were much easier to manage in a small greenhouse than "standard" Vandas. Today, when fewer people are able to afford and manage a greenhouse environment, even a small one, their place has largely been taken by "compact" Cattleyas, "novelty" Phalaenopsis and Paphiopedilums, and Neofinetia hybrids, all of which are suitable for either outdoor or indoor cultivation, without a specialized and carefully regulated growing area.
Today, also, there is a prevailing school of thought that says Ascocendas no longer exist, because Ascocentrum and several other genera have been completely submerged into Vanda. We will have something to say about that development below.
The first Ascocenda was produced in 1949 by Dr. Christos Plutarchou Sideris, then a plant physiologist working in Honolulu. Sideros was born in 1891 on the island of Samos, Greece, and came to the United States in 1909. He attended college in California, receiving his Ph.D. in plant physiology in 1924 from the University of California at Berkeley. His first job after that was with the Pineapple Producers' Cooperative in Honolulu, which later became the Pineapple Research Institute. He may also have held a position at the University of Hawaii. Orchid growers in Hawaii have explained that agricultural scientists in Hawaii in those days traveled frequently to Southeast Asia in connection with their research on improving productivity of pineapple and other tropical crops in Hawaii, and during these travels encountered interesting orchids, some of which they brought back with them to Hawaii.
Dr. Sideris became interested in growing orchids. Travel presumably stopped during World War II, but in 1949, he registered the intergeneric hybrid Ascocenda Portia Doolittle (Ascocentrum curvifolium × Vanda lamellata), named after the wife of one of his friends in Honolulu, Dr. Stewart E. Doolittle, who also had a "hothouse". Ascocenda Portia Doolittle, at least the examples known today, was not a spectacular plant, but it proved that these two genera could produce viable hybrids. Dr. Sideris had also made a more promising cross, Ascocentrum curvifolium × Vanda Rothschildiana, which he registered in 1950 as Ascocenda Meda Arnold. It was a stunning plant, with full, round, brilliant red flowers (and several other shades) over an inch across, well displayed on erect spikes. We found 66 AOS awards for this hybrid.
Who was Meda Arnold? Born Meda Lorraine Sheldon, she was the wife of Dr. Harry Loren Arnold, a physician who seems to have come to Hawaii as a Major in the US Army before 1920. By 1930 he was in private practice. He was a founding partner in the Straub Clinic in Honolulu, and at his retirement in 1967, chief of staff at Queen's Hospital. He died in 1971. He and Meda had come from Michigan. Meda was born in Michigan in 1884, married there in 1911, and died in Honolulu in 1974.
Did they grow orchids? They certainly did! Even during World War II, orchid shows were held in Honolulu, and Dr. Sideris was there. In 1949, show winners included C. P. Sideris, Dr. Harry L. Arnold, and Dr. Stewart E. Doolittle. In 1954, there was a two page photo essay in a local newspaper featuring Dr. Arnold and his orchids, in great detail. In 1950, the "Garden of the Week" column in the Honolulu Advertiser was devoted to the C. P. Sideris garden. The Advertiser also ran a column "All About Orchids" for a time, and in 1954, this column featured an extract from an article by Dr. Sideris in the Pacific Orchid Society of Hawaii Bulletin, on "Iron in nutrient solutions for orchids".
We know from SCOS newsletters that the early Ascocendas had arrived in the Long Beach area by 1964, because both Ascocenda Ophelia and Meda Arnold received awards from ODC judging at our meetings in 1964-1966. They may well have arrived in Long Beach as a direct result of charter flights for orchid hobbyists to Hawaii arranged by SCOS. One well-publicized tour, September 16-30, 1963, was dubbed "South Coast Orchid Society's Rendezvous Hawaii", at a cost of only $360.00. A full account of this tour appeared in the newsletter of the Orchid Society of Southern California. Arrangements were made by Fitzpatrick Travel and PanAmerican Airlines (remember PanAm?). Our happy SCOS tourists visited numerous orchid growers in the Islands, and we can only assume they brought back many orchid plants as souvenirs. Hawaii was such a popular place in those days that SCOS held an annual luau every August, with Hawaiian-themed decorations and entertainment.
Meanwhile, the Ascocenda story continued. Hawaiian orchid grower Roy Fukumura tried the cross of a very nice Vanda cultivar for which he had won an award (Vanda Pukele 'Helen' HCC/AOS, awarded in 1960 at the Third Hawaiian Orchid Congress, Kahalui, Maui) with Ascocentrum curvifolium. Seedlings were distributed before any had bloomed; the first one to bloom had found its way to the Yip Kee Garden, a family-run nursery in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and the proprietor, Mr. Yip Sum Wah, registered it in 1965 as Ascocenda Yip Sum Wah, which quickly became even more famous than Meda Arnold. Yip Sum Wah turned out to be extremely productive, routinely producing one big spike a month, and quickly became a favorite for the cut flower trade, with weekly exports to Europe from Thailand. So far, we know of 108 AOS awards for Yip Sum Wah. Flower sizes for the awarded plants have generally been in the range of 1½" to 2", but a few have come close to 3". Color range is generally red, with shades from red-orange to raspberry red, often with an overlay of dark red dots.
The natural consequence of these two stunning hybrids, Meda Arnold and Yip Sum Wah, was that someone would cross them. That honor went to Robert Perreira Orchids, of Kaneohe, Hawaii. The cross was registered in 1970 as Ascocenda Fiftieth State Beauty, which has received at least 38 AOS awards. The color range is excellent, including some rose shades; the size tends to be about the same as Meda Arnold. SCOS members brought in some fine cultivars for judging.
Today there are still new "Ascocendas" being registered, but, since April, 2013, they are now all called Vandas, as a result of some taxonomic adventures that now need to be explained. We don’t see many of them locally, but they are still popular in Hawaii and Southeast Asia. Some have larger flowers, and it appears some of the newer hybrids tend to be larger as well, as a result of further crosses with "standard" Vandas. The color range has expanded, too, as a result of crosses involving other genera (some of which, however, have also turned into Vandas).
SCOS members are well aware of the taxonomic upheavals of the past couple decades. In part, the large-scale changes of orchid names have come about through the application of DNA sequencing methods. These methods have revealed unsuspected genetic relationships of various species and genera, some of which have by now been validated by additional research on morphology, pollination strategies, and detailed studies of natural populations. However, the technology is still evolving, and along with it, taxonomic concepts for interpreting the results.
One of the newer concepts we can call "monophyletic purity". For purposes of determining the boundaries of a genus, it is now almost an article of faith for many taxonomists that a genus can only contain the evolutionary descendants of a single hypothetical ancestor, and that it must contain all such descendants. It has become distinctly unfashionable to split out groups of species that are morphologically very distinct, unless all of the other related groups at the same level of the "phylogenetic tree" (usually derived through analysis of genetic data) are also split out into separate genera. For example, in order for the very distinct Neofinetia to remain as a separate genus, it would be necessary, under the idea of "monophyletic purity", to split Vanda and maybe some other, related groups of species that branch from the evolutionary "family tree" at about the same level, into multiple new genera. It is a sort of "fairness" argument that has nothing to do with the utility of the new classification for anyone, except possibly the taxonomists themselves. Further, it is an idea that gives primacy to genetic data, to the virtual exclusion of what the plants look like, how they behave in cultivation or in nature, or any other visible character that might actually be useful to the gardener or even to the field naturalist.
One of the ways that genetic data have been applied to orchid taxonomy is in the creation of a monumental revision of the genera of orchids, entitled by exact translation into Latin, Genera Orchidacearum, in six huge volumes. It is not, however, the size of the volumes that concerns us, but rather, their prohibitive cost. That the cost (initially about $160 per volume, but we have seen prices on the internet as high as $700 per volume) is actually prohibitive can be judged from the fact that we have been unable to locate anyone in our area who owns or has even held one of these volumes.
Perhaps understanding that few people are likely ever to see or use these volumes, many of the contributors have published some or possibly all of their data elsewhere, but it is not yet clear how much additional information or what new interpretations may be found in Genera Orchidacearum. This fact makes the work difficult to evaluate.
Nevertheless, most of the decisions in these volumes concerning the names and composition of the genera of orchids have apparently been adopted by the Royal Horticultural Society as the basis for orchid hybrid nomenclature and registration. That is the story behind the elimination of the genus Odontoglossum, for example.
For Vanda, the story is mixed. Preliminary to the publication of the account in Volume 6 of Genera Orchidacearum, what appear to be the genetic data underlying it were published separately (Gardiner, Lauren Maria, Kocyan, Alexander, Motes, Martin, Roberts, David L, and Emerson, Brent C., 2013, Molecular phylogenetics of Vanda and related genera (Orchidaceae), Bot. J. Linn. Soc. 173:549-572). These authors presented data and derived phylogenetic trees based on selected regions of chloroplast DNA (for a total of 154 "potentially informative characters"), with the result that the Ascocentrums they sampled did not cluster together, but were instead interspersed with other Vanda species in the phylogenetic tree. That seemed to clinch the case that Ascocentrum and several other genera were not inherently separate and distinct from a genetic, evolutionary perspective, and should therefore be lumped into an enlarged genus Vanda. From this paper, it was apparently a short step to the account (which we still have not seen) in Volume 6 of Genera Orchidacearum (which finally appeared in 2014), and from there to the decision by the RHS to accept these conclusions — a decision, however, that was actually made in May, 2013, before Volume 6 had appeared (reported, for example, in Orchids 82(7):439 (July, 2013)).
However, another study, comparing a much larger set of DNA markers, appeared in 2015, with a very different conclusion: Zou, Long-Hai, Huang, Jiu-Xiang, Zhang, Guo-Qiang, Liu, Zhong-Jian, Zhuang, Xue-Ying, 2015, A molecular phylogeny of Aeridinae (Orchidaceae: Epidendrioideae) inferred from multiple nuclear and chloroplast regions, Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 85:247-254. This team used not only the same chloroplast DNA regions as Gardiner et al. (although not necessarily with the same “primers” or results), but also included the “internal transcribed spacer” (ITS) regions from nuclear ribosomal DNA as well as other nuclear DNA regions, for a total of 1802 "potentially informative characters" — a major expansion of the amount of information available for working out the genetic relationships. In their hands, the final result was that Ascocentrum and Neofinetia, as well as other groups, proved to be distinct from the traditional Vanda genus. In terms of experimental design, the inclusion of a much larger selection of genetic data is expected to yield a better, more reliable result. Further, the fact that two apparently technically sound studies produced different results suggests that the question of generic boundaries is not yet settled, and must be confirmed by further studies. In effect, it looks like Genera Orchidacearum and the RHS may have jumped the gun. It would be better to wait until the scientific community has a chance to evaluate and confirm the experimental findings and to consider the taxonomic questions from more points of view. There is no need to rush taxonomy.
Ultimately, taxonomic revisions, no matter how authoritative they may appear, are only and always suggestions. There is always the expectation that they may need to be revised when additional information becomes available. In this case, we should remember Ascocendas, because we may need to bring them back, officially, someday.
Name That Orchid! Name That Orchid Ballantineara!
We present this essay with mixed feelings: awed by the vast array of Cattleya hybrids, and exasperated by the process of trying to keep track of them.
An obscure orchid seedling has just bloomed, a cute little hybrid from Sunset Valley Orchids, still unregistered, whose parents used to be known as Laeliocatonia Peggy San and Epicattleya Kyoguchi. Both are parents of many hybrids, but Fred Clarke seems to be the first to try crossing them with each other. Peggy San produces sprays of spash-petaled flowers that look a lot like Broughtonia. Kyoguchi produces long branched sprays of yellow flowers with deep maroon lines on the lip.
Not surprisingly these days, the names of the parents have changed, as a result of various upsets in the Cattleya tribe: they are now correctly Cattleytonia Peggy San and Guaricyclia Kyoguchi.
When the changes in the taxonomy of the Cattleya tribe were accepted for purposes of hybrid registration by the Royal Horticultural Society, the Registrar, Julian Shaw, was faced with the task of coming up with more than 80 new names on short notice, for existing hybrids whose intergeneric make-up had suddenly been altered. The particular combination involved here, Broughtonia × Cattleya × Encyclia × Guarianthe, was dubbed Ballantineara. This tsunami of new names was published in Orchid Review, volume 116, March-April 2008, as part of the "Quarterly Supplement to the International Register of Orchid Hybrids", covering October-December 2007 registrations. This name was one of the lucky ones. Quite a few of the new names became obsolete barely a year later, when the genus Sophronitis was submerged into Cattleya, and Mr. Shaw had to come up with almost 50 more new names.
Ballantineara has so far survived for more than a decade as a valid intergeneric hybrid name, virtually unnoticed. Mr. Shaw did not indicate who the honoree was, but it wasn’t hard to spot the probable candidate, Mr. H. Ballantine, head gardener for Baron Sir J. H. W. Schröder of The Dell, Egham, England, in the late 19th and early 20th Century.
Conveniently, a short biography and a photo of Mr. Henry Ballantine appeared in The Gardener’s Chronicle, September 14, 1907, pp. 200-201:
Mr. Henry Ballantine has been for many years head gardener to Baron Sir H. Schröder, The Dell, Egham. The Dell gardens are among the most beautiful and best maintained establishments in this country. They are especially famous for the rich collection of Orchids they contain. Many important species and varieties have been shown from this collection at the Royal Horticultural Society’s meetings, and may be found in the list of plants which have received first-class certificates. It is interesting to recall some of the fine plants from The Dell gardens. Taking, for example, the spotted forms of Odontoglossum crispum, which are among the greatest favourites at the present day, there is a very fine collection at The Dell, and this collection contains specimens from the earlier introductions, which are still some of the best plants to be seen, notwithstanding they have been under cultivation for long periods. First-class certificates have been obtained by O. crispum Ballantinei, O. c. flaveolum, O. c. Dellense, and O. c. Veitchianum in 1884; O. c. Schroderianum and O. c. Sanderianum in 1885; for O. c. apiatum, which was the sensational Orchid of its day, in 1886, and for O. c. Baroness Schröder, O. c. nobilior, and other grand forms at more recent dates.
Turning to the blotched forms of O. Pescatorei, the record is equally remarkable, The Dell collection still retaining in splendid health the beautiful O. Pescatorei Veitchii (F.C.C., 1882) and O. P. Schröderianum, both of which plants are still unmatched, despite thousands of specimens of this species which have been imported since that year. Mr. Ballantine had the good fortune to present the first Odontoglossum Wilckeanum on March 10, 1885, and its variety Godfroyæ on the same day. First-class certificates were awarded for both plants. In most other sections of Odontoglossum early honours were secured by representatives from this collection. From 1891, when The Dell specimen of Cypripedium insigne Sanderæ secured a first-class certificate, it was for some years, and probably still is, one of the best plants of its kind; and many other cases might be cited where Baron Schröder’s liberality in securing the best varieties and Mr. Ballantine’s skill in cultivating them to the highest standard have brought credit to the gardens in which they both take such delight.
Although the Orchids have played the most important part in spreading the fame of The Dell gardens, other branches of gardening have been equally well carried out. It would be well for horticulture if the types of owner represented by Baron Schröder and of gardeners by Mr. H. Ballantine were the general rule.
Apparently, there were a fixed number of positions for the membership of the Victoria Medal of Honour. As vacancies occurred during the previous year (because of the deaths of Sir Thomas Hanbury, after whom the popular Encyclia (formerly Epidendrum) hanburyi is named, Sir Michael Foster, and Mr. Harry Turner), they were replaced (elected by the Council of the Royal Horticultural Society) by Sir John Dillwyn Llewelyn, Baronet, Mr. Henry Ballantine (the veteran head gardener to Baron Schröder), and Mr. George Dickson, the rosarian, of Newtonards, Ireland, in 1907. Ballantine died in 1929, noted in the Journal of the Royal Horticultural Society, 1935, p. 59. Baron Sir Henry Schröder, Bt. (=Baronet of The Dell), C.V.O. (=Commander of the Royal Victorian Order), died in 1910. According to the Wikipedia, Sir John Henry William Schroder, 1st Baronet and Baron von Schröder (13 February 1825 – 20 April 1910) was an Anglo-German merchant banker, his firm being Schroders PLC. He was known as Baron Sir John Henry Schroder. Schroder was born Baron Johann Heinrich Wilhelm Schröder in Hamburg, Germany, the fourth of twelve children of Baron Johann Heinrich von Schröder (in the Prussian nobility) and Henriette von Schwartz. Both his parents were born into prominent Hamburg merchant families. In 1814, at the age of 16, Sir John joined the London office of the banking house founded by his father. He later moved to England and was created Baronet of The Dell, in the Baronetcy of the United Kingdom, in 1892. The title became extinct upon his death.
Baron Schröder seems not to have been connected with the orchid aristocracy to the extent that some of his contemporaries were. Few, if any, of his awarded plants were featured in the fabulous color plates that were so popular at the time. There are a few paintings of individual flowers in the archives of the RHS, but we were not able to find any illustrations of entire plants that would show us why Baron Schröder and Mr. Ballantyne were so highly regarded.
Hybrids now correctly known as Ballantineara that were registered before 2008 were formerly known as Cycatonia (established for Broughtonia × Cattleya × Encyclia in the April-June, 2006 registrations, published in Orchid Review vol. 114, September-October, 2006). The need for a new name was occasioned by the split of the new genus Guarianthe from Cattleya. Even earlier, before Encyclia was split out from Epidendrum, similar hybrids were called Epicatonia (Broughtonia × Cattleya × Epidendrum). One of the early ones was Epicatonia (now Ballantineara Purple Vista, registered in 1999 by Fred Clarke, which received an HCC/AOS on September 25, 1999 at the San Diego International Orchid Fair at Del Mar, CA. (AOS Award No. 19991500, photographer Charles Rowden) for cultivar 'Sunset Valley Orchids'. The flowers were large for the type of breeding, 6.2 cm across, with 18 flowers and 4 buds on a “sturdy”, branched spike. The version of the award photo in OrchidPro is faded in such a way that the color is distorted. A much better version of the same award photo (a mirror image) was contributed to OrchidRoots.com by Fred Clarke, and is found also on the Sunset Valley Orchids web site.
This little excursion demonstrates a long-standing problem for orchid growers: Name changes can take many years, or even decades to reach us (even those of us who have tried to keep up with orchid news), and by the time we find out, the odds are fairly good that even the new name we just learned about has been replaced by something else.
Paphiopedilum Primary Hybrids — We've Only Just Begun!
For those of you who have forgotten your advanced math, the number of different ways you can select M items drawn from a population of N items, where the order
doesn't matter, is N!/(M!(N-M)!) — this kind of math comes up when computing lottery and bingo odds, and other situations where there is "sampling without
replacement". We love those surprising "factorial" formulas! We remembered this handy formula, which we use for everyday problems at least once a decade, when we
wondered if all of the primary Paphiopedilum hybrids have already been made. To find the answer we would first have to know how many such primary hybrids
were possible. Each primary hybrid will have two parents, and the order of the parents doesn't matter for purposes of orchid hybrid registration, even if the
plants sometimes have other ideas. So, the number of primary hybrids in a genus such as Paphiopedilum will be N(N-1)/2, where N is the number
of species in the genus, the formula greatly simplified for this case, but not quite as elegant as the version with factorials.
In order to obtain the answer, then, we need to know how many species of Paph there are. For the latest count, which seems to be about right, even if there is some
room for discussion about several of them that might be species, or might be varieties, or might even be natural hybrids, we decided to follow our friend Harold Koopowitz,
in the October-December, 2018 issue of Orchid Digest (82(4):178-235, An annotated checklist of Paphiopedilum species): 121 apparent species, give or
take a few. The questions arise because there are about half a dozen forms that were discovered quite recently, sometimes known from only a couple plants found in
the wild, and some varieties that might be treated as species, if there were more information.
The little formula, then, becomes 121×120/2 = 7,620 possible primary hybrids in the genus Paphiopedilum. By comparison, OrchidWiz shows that
just 1,780 of those possible primary hybrids have been registered. That number could even be a bit high, if there are some "primary" hybrids where one parent
has since been declared a natural hybrid, or involves a synonym of another species name, etc. In round numbers, then, only about 1/4 of the primary Paph hybrids have
been registered. There are still almost 6,000 waiting to be made! Paph lovers, you still have a lot of work to do!
About 1981, Norito Hawegawa and Harold Koopowitz formed a joint venture that they called Paphanatics UnLimited. They continued as a partnership and a business
until about 2008. For over 25 years, they racked up an astounding total of awards and hybrid registrations. Not counting an entity called "Paphanatics Unlimited Australia",
we tallied 891 AOS awards 1981-2017, including 12 FCC's, plus 510 CSA awards. They registered 260 hybrids, most of which they had also originated, and another 33 that
they originated were registered by others. After 2008, Norito has continued to exhibit plants under the name Paphanatics. Many of the awards happened right here
in Long Beach at our monthly meetings. We will devote a future installment of Orchids Today and Yesterday to the amazing photos of Paphanatics' awarded plants
from the Long Beach judging center.
Paphanatics also sold plants and flasked seedlings, and they published at least one book (see above). Just another example of how orchid hobbyists collaborate!
Not the first SCOS members to take on group projects, and surely not the last.
Right now, there are about 27,000 registered Paph hybrids. Paph fanatics will tell you, though, that 27,000 is not enough! So many possibilities to try!
Generations of orchidists will be needed to explore them all!
By way of encouragement, we gathered a small sample of the primary Paph hybrids that have local connections, most of them exhibited and awarded at SCOS meetings.
You will recognize some of the names of the exhibitors and growers! For the record, the all-time most awarded primary Paph hybrid, and this will not be a great
surprise, is Paph. Saint Swithin (philippinense × rothschildianum), registered by Statter in 1901, always a spectacular sight on a show
table. Second place, and again this will be no surprise, goes to Paph. Maudiae (callosum × lawrenceanum), registered by Charlesworth
Ltd. in 1900, ever so elegant. Number 9 on the hit parade is Paph. Norito Hasegawa, registered in 1992 by Orchid Zone, a well-deserved honor for our faithful
SCOS member and colleague.
Here's an assortment of a few of the Paph primary hybrids that have local connections. We expect AOS judging to resume at our meetings in April, 2022. It would
be no surprise if a couple Paph primary hybrids show up then!
July 25, 1994:
Paph. Joyce Hasegawa 'Norito's Extravaganza' AM/AOS, exhibited at our monthly meeting by Paphanatics. Primary hybrid of delenatii and
August 26, 2002:
Paph. Harold Koopowitz 'Sunset Valley Orchids' FCC/AOS, exhibited at our monthly meeting by Fred Clarke. Primary hybrid of malipoense and
February 27, 1995:
Paph. Karen Muir 'Petite Lady' AM/AOS, exhibited at our monthly meeting by Paphanatics. Primary hybrid of godfroyae and urbanianum.
October 10, 1994:
Paph. Fumi's Gold 'Brilliant' HCC/AOS, exhibited at our monthly meeting by Paphanatics. Primary hybrid of concolor and armeniacum.
August 8, 1994:
Paph. Double Deception 'Dots Incredible' HCC/AOS, exhibited at Los Angeles monthly judging, Burbank, CA, by Paphanatics. Primary hybrid of
venustum and sukhakulii.
September 27, 1999:
Paph. Sander's Parish 'Sunset Valley Orchids' AM/AOS, exhibited at our monthly meeting by Fred Clarke. Primary hybrid of sanderianum and
Paph. Chiu Hua Dancer, unnamed seedling, grown outdoors by SCOS Treasurer Elaine Murphy. Primary hybrid of gigantifolium and
February 22, 2020:
Paph. Deena Nicol 'Black Eye' AM/AOS CCM/AOS, exhibited at Greater Lansing Orchid Society Show, Lansing, MI by Dot Potter Barnett. This
primary hybrid of philippinense and rothschildianum was created by Carl and Imogene Keyes, and registered in 1987 by Paphantatics.
February 14, 1977:
Paph. Delrosi 'Carimo Valentine' AM/AOS, exhibited at Los Angeles monthly judging by Carl and Imogene Keyes. Primary hybrid of delenatii and
September 10, 2011:
Paph. Lynleigh Koopowitz 'Plum Nose' HCC/AOS, exhibited at Los Angeles monthly judging by Doug Overstreet. Primary hybrid of delenatii
Keyesara, the Latest Hybrid Genus Name Honoring an SCOS Member
Over the years, friends and members of South Coast Orchid Society have been honored by the creation of new hybrid orchid genus names. The practice of naming
a hybrid orchid genus after a person dates back to the early 20th Century, when it first became clear that botanical hybrids could in some cases be created from multiple genera. After reflection and deliberation, a committee of the Royal Horticultural Society proposed that hybrids involving three or more taxonomic genera could be named after a person, with the suffix -ara. The first such hybrid orchid genus was apparently Vuylstekeara (1911), which we discussed in a previous blog installment. The RHS orchid registrar Julian Shaw told us recently that, in round numbers, about 3,000 such hybrid genera (or "nothogenera") have been created, of which about 2,000 involve orchids. Hybridizers have been very busy!
One of these, only recently created, was named after former SCOS member Carl Keyes, and, we suggest, his wife Imogene. Carl and Imogene Keyes were regulars at our meetings from at least 1966 until about 1973. They exhibited plants for judging in Long Beach at least as late as 1978. They had moved from Burbank to the Santa Barbara area in 1973, and in 1980 to Arroyo Grande. Their plants won many awards at Long Beach judging sessions, and they were also members of the Orchid Society of Southern California in Los Angeles. Carl served as OSSC President 1969-1970. In those days, orchid growers, both hobbyists and nursery professionals, joined both SCOS and OSSC so that they would always be able to show their plants for judging while the flowers were in good condition, on the second Monday of the month for OSSC, or on the fourth Monday for SCOS. They called their collection Carimo Orchids, combining the first letters of their given names Carl and Imogene, and they used 'Carimo' as the cultivar name for most of their awarded plants as well. An appreciation of the Keyes was published after Carl's death in 1991 in Orchid Digest (55(4):179-180). See below for some of their accomplishments.
The first nothogenus named after a member of SCOS was Degarmoara, honoring former SCOS President Lloyd R. DeGarmo. The list continues: Fredclarkeara, Hugofreedara, Freedara, Hanesara (another SCOS President), Hasegawaara, Rehfieldara, and most recently, in 2009, Keyesara. Take a look at the table to see the component genera:
Hybrid Orchid Genera Honoring Past or Present SCOS Members
* Empty genus or nothogenus as a result of component species being moved to another genus.
The story might sound simple up to this point, but there are complications. Ironically, taxonomy, a discipline developed explicitly to bring stability to the naming of living things, has turned out to be by far the biggest disrupter of names in the orchid world. The problem is best illustrated with our first SCOS nothogenus, Degarmoara. It was created for hybrids of Brassia, Miltonia, and Odontoglossum, of which Lloyd DeGarmo had created the first one, Degarmoara Agnes, named after his mother. What could go wrong?
First, parts of Miltonia were split out to form a new genus, Miltoniopsis. Any Degarmoara that involved one of those species would now need a new name. Later, Odontoglossum was split into several pieces (about half a dozen new genera), and, later, the species that still remained in Odontoglossum were then lumped into Oncidium. Finally, the original Miltonium species that went into Degarmoara Agnes, M. warsewiczii, ended up as Oncidium fuscatum. Degarmoara Agnes has thus ended up as Brassidium Agnes. Other Degarmoara hybrids, depending on exactly which species occur in their ancestry, have ended up in different places, such as Aliceara, Brassoncidopsis, and many others.
Roughly the same thing has happened to all of the other SCOS-related nothogenera, with two exceptions: The taxonomy of the Catasetum group seems still to be intact, so Fredclarkeara has survived. Both Fred Clarke himself, and his spectacular Fredclarkeara hybrids have made a big splash in the orchid world, and we hope to see both of them as soon as the pandemic passes and we can again meet in person in Long Beach. For the moment, also, the genera involved in Keyesara seem safe for at least a few years.
Keyesara involves the "new" Laelia species, the ones that have remained in Laelia such as anceps, autumnalis, gouldiana, etc., plus the ones newly transferred from Schomburkia. These all tend to have long, strong spikes, and they seem well adapted for outdoor growing in our area. So far, there are only a handful of Keyesara hybrids. We could only find one that has been photographed, and none seem to have been awarded yet. We predict there will be more!
How Carl Keyes Almost Got a Species Named in His Honor
Dr. Jack Fowlie MD (1929-1993), who served as editor for Orchid Digest for many years, met Carl and Imogene Keyes about 1966 at some orchid society meeting. It could well have been at SCOS, as Jack remembered that they had both driven a considerable distance to attend the meeting. Dr. Fowlie had many orchid interests; one of them was Paphiopedilum biology and taxonomy. When the Keyes had a new, unusual Paph coming into bloom, they invited Dr. Fowlie to take a look at their collection at their home in Burbank. From that sprang their friendship and collaboration.
The new Paphs in question were significant. Dr. Fowlie recalled, "The ladyslipper that took me there proved to be from the Ang Thong Archipelago. We called it 'P. keysianum' and the plants that would be later be called P. acmodontum and P. hennisianum, also were first introduced to me there. Later the fates would take me searching for this initial ladyslipper in the Ang Thong Archipelago of Thailand, where we discovered it was a natural hybrid swarm, calling it P. × ang-thong. The tall scape came from P. niveum and the spotted pouch from P. godefroyae."
Fowlie eventually published his observations about the Ang Thong plants (Orchid Digest 41(3):117, 1977), giving them the name Paphiopedilum × ang-thong, describing them as a natural hybrid swarm derived from the species godefroyae and niveum. Later authors had other opinions about these plants, which seemed to be well separated geographically from both of the supposed parental species. Fowlie pointed out (in the same Orchid Digest issue where he recounted his friendship with the Keyes) that the Ang Thong plants were remarkably variable, and that many of them showed deformities in the flowers, which might be expected in a population derived from two not quite compatible species. In addition, he observed that the natural population of godefroyae came from the virtually inaccessible "Birdsnest Islands", for which the King of Thailand had an absolute concession both for the swifts' nests (they are not actually swallows) used in the famous soup, as well as all access to the islands. Fowlie managed to visit these islands, but only after making the acquaintance of the king's personal physician. Consequently, exports of godefroyae were very likely plants collected elsewhere, referrable either to leuchochilum or to the Ang Thong plants. The absence of a sufficient number of plants of known origin had badly clouded the taxonomy; plants of diverse origins appear to have ended up with diverse names, to the point where plants that might be derived from the Ang Thong population might be labeled as godefroyae, niveum, or leuchochilum, with or without a varietal name ang-thong. While there are apparently many different opinions about how to solve this puzzle taxonomically, Fowlie's observations on the extent of the natural variation in the Ang Thong and adjacent populations cannot be explained away. Carl and Imogene never got their keyesianum species, but it was their odd plant that set Fowlie on this quest.
Hybrids Named After Carl and Imogene Keyes
Carl and Imogene created two Paph hybrids that they named after themselves. Paph. Carl Keyes (W. N. Evans × W. N. Firebrand) was registered in 1968. Paph. Imogene Keyes (Milionette × W. N. Evans) in 1975. Both received AOS awards; however, the only award photos we were able to locate were donated to OrchidWiz by the Cymbidium Society of America.
In addition, Ben Bracey created a hybrid now known as Cattleya Imogene Keyes (cinnabarina × Anzac (1921), registered in 1964 (no awards or photographs are known). Howard Liebman of Pacific Palisades, CA registered Odontioda (now Oncidium) Carl Keyes (Genadier × Lautrix) in 1974; this hybrid, cultivar 'Santa Barbara', received HCC/AOS when exhibited by Santa Barbara Orchid Estate November 9, 1981 at Los Angeles monthly judging. Finally, Howard Liebman created Aspasium Imogene Keyes (Aspasia princippissa × Odontioda (now Oncidium) Lippestern), registered in 1976 as a Lagerara (Aspasia × Cochlioda × Odontoglossum); a cultivar 'Black Knight' received AM/AOS when exhibited by Glenwood Orchid Acres, Mountain View, Hawaii August 11, 1995; this cultivar was illustrated in an article in the AOS Bulletin 51(9):931-936, "Aspoglossum and Lagerara Hybrids", by Howard Liebman, who considered his Lagerara Imogene Keyes to be the most successful Aspasia × Odontioda hybrid (grower and photographer credited as Keith Andrew).
We should also count here the hybrids called Carimo: Oncidopsis (formerly Vuylstekeara) Carimo, created and registered by Howard Liebman (1978); Paph. Carimo, created and registered by the Keyes in 1975, Carimo Reward in 1977, and Carimo Crimson in 1978.
Hybrids Created by Carl and Imogene Keyes
Carl and Imogene are credited with creating 32 hybrids, of which they registered 24 themselves. Of the 32, 13 are Paphiopedilum, 8 are Oncidium, 7 are Phalaenopsis, 3 are Rhyncholaeliocattleya, 1 is a Cattleya. By far the most awarded of their creations is Paphiopedilum Deena Nicol (philippinense × glanduliferum), registered in 1987 by Paphanatics (Howard Koopowitz and Norito Hasegawa), various cultivars of which have received 6 HCC/AOS, 8 AM/AOS, and 4 CCM/AOS.
Cattleya Pearl Spencer 'Petite Rouge' AM/AOS, Regional Monthly Judging, Hollywood, CA. [AOS award no. 19630014.]
August 14, 1967:
Paphiopedilum parishii 'Keyes' HCC/AOS, Regional Monthly Judging, Los Angeles, CA. [AOS award no. 19670461.]
February 12, 1968:
Cymbidium Sylvia Miller 'Citronella' HCC/AOS, Regional Monthly Judging, Hawthorne, CA. [AOS award no. 19680078.]
Cattleya Psyche (1902) 'Valentine' HCC/AOS, Regional Monthly Judging, Hawthorne, CA. [AOS award no. 19680081.]
April 4, 1968:
Cymbidium Ivy Fung 'Show Girl' HCC/AOS, Southland Orchid Show, Arcadia, CA. [AOS award no. 19680287.]
Phalaenopsis Ambomanniana 'Arcadia' HCC/AOS, Southland Orchid Show, Arcadia, CA. [AOS award no. 19680292.]
August 26, 1968:
Rhyncholaeliocattleya Gift 'Picotee' AM/AOS, Regional Supplemental Monthly Judging, Long Beach, CA. [AOS award no. 19680525.]
March 19, 1969:
Paphiopedilum amabile 'Charles' CBM/AOS, Regional Monthly Judging, Los Angeles, CA. [AOS award no. 19690164. Now correctly identified as Paph. bullenianum. OrchidPro lacks a photo, but the award photo, identified as coming from the Pacific South judging center, was published later in the AOS Bulletin in an article about a contest for AOS photographs. Proof that the Pacific South region had a great slide collection as late as 1988!]
July 14, 1969:
Cattleya Mardi Gras (1967) 'Sun Festival' HCC/AOS, Regional Monthly Judging, Los Angeles, CA. [AOS award no. 19690453.]
October 13, 1969:
Paphiopedilum Franconia 'Keyes' AM/AOS, Regional Monthly Judging, Los Angeles, CA. [AOS award no. 19690558. OrchidPro lacks a photo, but the award photo was published later in the AOS Bulletin in an article about Paph. rothschildianum and its hybrids.]
Paphiopedilum Neptune 'Mars' AM/AOS, Regional Monthly Judging, Los Angeles, CA. [AOS award no. 19690559.]
Paphiopedilum Solon 'Senator' AM/AOS, Regional Monthly Judging, Los Angeles, CA. [AOS award no. 19690560.]
April 13, 1970:
Paphiopedilum acmodontum 'Carimo' HCC/AOS, Regional Monthly Judging, Los Angeles, CA. [AOS award no. 19700149. OrchidPro lacks a photo, but the award photo was published later in the AOS Bulletin in an article about "Growing the Cypripedilinae in the South".]
April 27, 1970:
Laeliocattleya Small Talk 'Chatterbox' HCC/AOS, Regional Supplemental Monthly Judging, Long Beach, CA. [AOS award no. 19700386. No photo in OrchidPro, but we found this photo from OrchidWiz image #117930 from the William Merritt Collection, identified as "Keyes 19700386", and matching the black-and-white version published in Awards Quarterly 2(3):69 (1971).]
May 11, 1970:
Paphiopedilum Maudiae 'Carimo' HCC/AOS, Regional Monthly Judging, Los Angeles, CA. [AOS award no. 19700396.]
February 8, 1971:
Paphiopedilum Edward Marshall Boehm 'Carimo' HCC/AOS, Regional Monthly Judging, Los Angeles, CA. [AOS award no. 19719227. Published in Awards Quarterly 2(3):62 (1971) as 19710227, changed because of duplicate award numbers. OrchidWiz gives award no. as 19710257, in error. OrchidPro lists this award as no. 19719227, and, for the original award number 19710227, an award for a Cymbidium from the Rowland Collection, January 11, 1971 at the same venue, published in Awards Quarterly 2(4):94 (1971).]
March 12, 1971:
Cattleya Redzac 'Carimo' HCC/AOS, San Diego County Orchid Show, San Diego, CA. [AOS award no. 19710433.]
September 27, 1971:
Catyclia Fred J. Fuchs Junior 'Carimo' HCC/AOS, Regional Supplemental Monthly Judging, Long Beach, CA. [AOS award no. 19710627.]
October 15, 1971:
Cochleanthes discolor 'Carimo' HCC/AOS, Orange County Orchid Society Show, Costa Mesa, CA. [AOS award no. 19710658. Now correctly identified as Warczewiczella discolor. A black-and-white photo was published in Awards Quarterly 3(2):53 (1972), not yet examined.]
February 26, 1973:
Paphiopedilum hirsutissimum 'Carimo' HCC/AOS, Regional Supplemental Monthly Judging, Long Beach, CA. [AOS award no. 19730236.]
March 30, 1973:
Phalaenopsis Red Coral 'Carimo' HCC/AOS, Santa Barbara International Orchid Show, Santa Barbara, CA. [AOS award no. 19730395.]
Paphiopedilum Connie 'Carimo' HCC/AOS, Santa Barbara International Orchid Show, Santa Barbara, CA. [AOS award no. 19730399.]
August 13, 1973:
Phalaenopsis Whimsey 'Carimo' HCC/AOS, Regional Monthly Judging, Los Angeles, CA. [AOS award no. 19730570.]
September 10, 1973:
Paphiopedilum Dusky Maiden 'Carimo' AM/AOS, Regional Monthly Judging, Los Angeles, CA. [AOS award no. 19730575. The photo in OrchidPro is truncated on the left side. Can an intact version of this photo be found? A black-and-white version was published in Awards Quarterly 5(3):70 (1974), not yet examined.]
January 14, 1974:
Paphiopedilum Dusky Maiden 'Exquisite' HCC/AOS, Regional Monthly Judging, Los Angeles, CA. [AOS award no. 19740148. The same cultivar received a BM/CSA December 11, 1986 when exhibited by Paphanatics (Harold Koopowitz and Norito Hasegawa), and a photo from that event is in OrchidWiz, image #121933.]
March 22, 1974:
Oncidium McNabianum 'Carimo' HCC/AOS, Santa Barbara International Orchid Show, Santa Barbara, CA. [AOS award no. 19740615.]
Paphiopedilum Spring Tree 'Carimo' HCC/AOS, Santa Barbara International Orchid Show, Santa Barbara, CA. [AOS award no. 19740616.]
Paphiopedilum Pisar 'Carimo' HCC/AOS, Santa Barbara International Orchid Show, Santa Barbara, CA. [AOS award no. 19740617.]
Paphiopedilum Carl Keyes 'Dan Collin' HCC/AOS, Santa Barbara International Orchid Show, Santa Barbara, CA. [AOS award no. 19740618.]
Paphiopedilum Noche 'Negri' HCC/AOS, Santa Barbara International Orchid Show, Santa Barbara, CA. [AOS award no. 19740627.]
June 10, 1974:
Paphiopedilum bellatulum 'Edna' HCC/AOS, Regional Monthly Judging, Los Angeles, CA. [AOS award no. 19740518.]
Paphiopedilum Charles Sladden 'Raspberry' HCC/AOS, Regional Monthly Judging, Los Angeles, CA. [AOS award no. 19740520.]
Cattleya Redzac 'Glow' HCC/AOS, Regional Monthly Judging, Los Angeles, CA. [AOS award no. 19740521. There are three versions of a single color photo in OrchidWiz that might be the award photo, but there is not enough information to be sure, as the grower, date, and award status are not listed for the photo. Now that we have located the award slide in the Pacific South collection, we know that the photos in OrchidWiz, while obviously old, were not taken at the judging session.]
July 8, 1974:
Paphiopedilum curtisii 'Purple Spendor' HCC/AOS, Regional Monthly Judging, Los Angeles, CA. [AOS award no. 19740553. This form is often listed as a synonym or variety of Paph. superbiens.]
Phragmipedium Dominianum 'Bob Mc' HCC/AOS, Regional Monthly Judging, Los Angeles, CA. [AOS award no. 19740558. This cultivar, as 'Bob Mc' and 'Bob Mac', has received additional, later awards. The "Bob" in question might be Robert E. McElderry of Burlingame, CA, a close contemporary of the Keyes.]
December 9, 1974:
Paphiopedilum Soulageanum 'Carimo' HCC/AOS, Regional Monthly Judging, Los Angeles, CA. [AOS award no. 19740829.]
Paphiopedilum bellatulum 'More Mesa' HCC/AOS, Regional Monthly Judging, Los Angeles, CA. [AOS award no. 19740833.]
February 10, 1975:
Paphiopedilum Charles Sladden 'Carimo' HCC/AOS, Regional Monthly Judging, Los Angeles, CA. [AOS award no. 19750182.]
March 7, 1975:
Oncidium Golden Girl 'Carimo' HCC/AOS, Santa Barbara International Orchid Show, Santa Barbara, CA. [AOS award no. 19750638.]
Oncidium Memoria Ernesto Alvarez 'Pink Debutante' HCC/AOS, Santa Barbara International Orchid Show, Santa Barbara, CA. [AOS award no. 19750657.]
Paphiopedilum mastersianum 'Carimo' HCC/AOS, Santa Barbara International Orchid Show, Santa Barbara, CA. [AOS award no. 19750658.]
April 14, 1975:
Paphiopedilum fairrieanum 'Carimo Red' HCC/AOS, Regional Monthly Judging, Los Angeles, CA. [AOS award no. 19750349.]
Oncidium Grouse Mountain 'Grandeur' HCC/AOS, Regional Monthly Judging, Los Angeles, CA. [AOS award no. 19750355.]
April 28, 1975:
Paphiopedilum lowii 'XLNT' AM/AOS, Regional Supplemental Monthly Judging, Long Beach, CA. [AOS award no. 19750458. OrchidWiz has an entry for this award under no. 19750953, as well another award with the same name but a description of an entirely different plant as award no. 19760458. The reason for this discrepancy between OrchidPro and OrchidWiz has to do with duplicate award numbers published in Awards Quarterly and subsequent efforts to untangle the resulting confusion in successive AOS award databases. Published in Awards Quarterly 7(4):94 (1976) without a photo. Note that XLNT is a brand of plastic-wrapped frozen tamal.]
Phalaenopsis Dusky Rouge 'Goodie' HCC/AOS, Regional Supplemental Monthly Judging, Long Beach, CA. [AOS award no. 19750459. OrchidWiz has an entry for this award under no. 19750954, as well another award with the same name but a description of an entirely different plant as award no. 19760459, another example of confusion caused by duplicate award numbers that were published in Awards Quarterly. The photo attached to this award in OrchidPro actually belongs with award number 19750926, Phalaenopsis Natasha 'Eye'Dee', not connected in any way with the Keyes.]
Oncidium Crislette 'White Satin' HCC/AOS, Regional Supplemental Monthly Judging, Long Beach, CA. [AOS award no. 19750462. OrchidWiz has an entry for this award under no. 19750957, as well another award with the same name but a description of an entirely different plant as award no. 19760462. This award was also caught up in an episode of duplicate award numbers.]
June 9, 1975:
Oncidium Stropheon 'Carimo' HCC/AOS, Regional Monthly Judging, Los Angeles, CA. [AOS award no. 19750512.]
June 23, 1975:
Oncidium Golden Glacier 'Golden Eagle' HCC/AOS, Regional Supplemental Monthly Judging, Long Beach, CA. [AOS award no. 19750671.]
July 14, 1975:
Oncidium Solana 'Golden Shower' HCC/AOS, Regional Monthly Judging, Los Angeles, CA. [AOS award no. 19750530.]
July 28, 1975:
Oncidesa Gold Coin Butte 'Millie' HCC/AOS, Regional Supplemental Monthly Judging, Long Beach, CA. [AOS award no. 19750678.]
December 8, 1975:
Paphiopedilum Royal Flush 'Erin' HCC/AOS, Regional Monthly Judging, Los Angeles, CA. [AOS award no. 19750884.]
Oncidium Memoria Ernesto Alvarez 'Carimo Princess' HCC/AOS, Regional Monthly Judging, Los Angeles, CA. [AOS award no. 19750885.]
Paphiopedilum Charles Richman 'Red Beauty' HCC/AOS, Regional Monthly Judging, Los Angeles, CA. [AOS award no. 19750888.]
February 9, 1976:
Oncidium Goodale Moir 'Red Perfection' HCC/AOS, Regional Monthly Judging, Los Angeles, CA. [AOS award no. 19760270.]
February 23, 1976:
Paphiopedilum Lalime 'Superba' AM/AOS, Regional Supplemental Monthly Judging, Long Beach, CA. [AOS award no. 19760317.] The version of the award photo in OrchidPro has a strong bluish tone that masks the colors obtained from the award slide.
March 8, 1976:
Paphiopedilum Golden Chalice 'Carimo Gold' HCC/AOS, Regional Monthly Judging, Los Angeles, CA. [AOS award no. 19760396. While the award photo has not been found, the same cultivar was exhibited at the Santa Barbara International Orchid Show in 1979, and there is a badly faded photo for that one. CSA provided a slightly better copy of the same 1979 AOS award photo to OrchidWiz, image #122052.]
Paphiopedilum Blenheim Palace 'Carimo Pride' HCC/AOS, Regional Monthly Judging, Los Angeles, CA. [AOS award no. 19760397.]
March 26, 1976:
Paphiopedilum Charles Richman 'Royal Robe' AM/AOS, Santa Barbara International Orchid Show, Santa Barbara, CA. [AOS award no. 19760547.]
Paphiopedilum tonsum 'Jungle Queen' HCC/AOS, Santa Barbara International Orchid Show, Santa Barbara, CA. [AOS award no. 19760555.]
Paphiopedilum Freckles 'Carimo' HCC/AOS, Santa Barbara International Orchid Show, Santa Barbara, CA. [AOS award no. 19760572.]
June 28, 1976:
Zelenkoa onusta 'Carimo' HCC/AOS, Regional Supplemental Monthly Judging, Long Beach, CA. [AOS award no. 19760617.]
July 12, 1976:
Paphiopedilum parishii 'Carimo Giant' HCC/AOS, Regional Monthly Judging, Los Angeles, CA. [AOS award no. 19760696.]
September 13, 1976:
Aliceara Tahoma Glacier 'Carimo Green Ice' AM/AOS, Regional Monthly Judging, Los Angeles, CA. [AOS award no. 19760829.]
September 27, 1976:
Oncidium Memoria Ernesto Alvarez 'Carimo King' AM/AOS, Regional Supplemental Monthly Judging, Long Beach, CA. [AOS award no. 19760778.]
November 8, 1976:
Oncidium Goodale Moir 'Carimo Candescent' HCC/AOS, Regional Monthly Judging, Los Angeles, CA. [AOS award no. 19760918.]
December 13, 1976:
Paphiopedilum Carimo Reward 'King's Ransom' HCC/AOS, Regional Monthly Judging, Los Angeles, CA. [AOS award no. 19760994.]
Paphiopedilum Keyeshill 'Carl' HCC/AOS, Regional Monthly Judging, Los Angeles, CA. [AOS award no. 19760997.]
February 14, 1977:
Oncidium Memoria Tom Lyles 'Carimo' HCC/AOS, Regional Monthly Judging, Los Angeles, CA. [AOS award no. 19770176.]
Paphiopedilum Delrosi 'Carimo Valentine' AM/AOS, Regional Monthly Judging, Los Angeles, CA. [AOS award no. 19770174.]
June 13, 1977:
Oncidium Spaceman 'Carimo' HCC/AOS, Regional Monthly Judging, Los Angeles, CA. [AOS award no. 19770660.]
October 17, 1977:
Paphiopedilum Iantha Stage 'Harry's Friend' HCC/AOS, Regional Monthly Judging, Los Angeles, CA. [AOS award no. 19771016.]
November 28, 1977:
Phalaenopsis Fire-Water 'Pink Marble' AM/AOS, Regional Supplemental Monthly Judging, Long Beach, CA. [AOS award no. 19771081.]
December 12, 1977:
Paphiopedilum Explorama 'Radiant' HCC/AOS, Regional Monthly Judging, Los Angeles, CA. [AOS award no. 19771045.]
February 11, 1978:
Paphiopedilum Great Pacific 'Carimo' HCC/AOS, Regional Monthly Judging, Atlanta, GA ?. [AOS award no. 19780248. It seems extremely unlikely that the Keyes would have exhibited in Atlanta for Regional Monthly Judging. This will need to be confirmed in Awards Quarterly, not yet examined. The AOS awards index 1932-1989 places this award at Los Angeles.]
April 7, 1978:
Paphiopedilum Berenice 'Carimo Dark Emperor' AM/AOS, Santa Barbara International Orchid Show, Santa Barbara, CA. [AOS award no. 19780586. The photo in OrchidPro is badly faded. A color photo was also published in Awards Quarterly 10(1):17 (1979), not yet examined.]
July 24, 1978:
Paphiopedilum godefroyae h. v. leucochilum 'Carimo' AM/AOS, Regional Supplemental Monthly Judging, Long Beach, CA. [AOS award no. 19780868. The award is currently listed by AOS as Paph. leucochilum.]
August 14, 1978:
Miltochilum Yellow Monarch 'Carimo' HCC/AOS, Regional Monthly Judging, Los Angeles, CA. [AOS award no. 19780830.]
December 11, 1978:
Oncidium Mexico 'Carimo' HCC/AOS, Regional Monthly Judging, Los Angeles, CA. [AOS award no. 19781106.]
February 24, 1979:
Trichocentrum Kushu 'Terrific' HCC/AOS, Cabrillo Orchid Society Show, Santa Maria, CA. [AOS award no. 19790216.]
April 9, 1979:
Paphiopedilum Via Gema 'Golden Nugget' HCC/AOS, Regional Monthly Judging, Los Angeles, CA. [AOS award no. 19790575.]
Phalaenopsis Fire-Water 'Red Hot' HCC/AOS, Regional Monthly Judging, Los Angeles, CA. [AOS award no. 19790578.]
May 14, 1979:
Paphiopedilum Houghtoniae 'Carimo' HCC/AOS, Regional Monthly Judging, Los Angeles, CA. [AOS award no. 19790731.]
Phalaenopsis sumatrana 'Carimo Rouge' HCC/AOS, Regional Monthly Judging, Los Angeles, CA. [AOS award no. 19790737.]
February 5, 1980:
Paphiopedilum Berenice 'Brown Beauty' HCC/AOS, Regional Supplemental Monthly Judging, San Francisco, CA. [AOS award no. 19800099.]
March 1, 1980:
Paphiopedilum glaucophyllum h. v. moquettianum 'Carimo' AM/AOS, Cabrillo Orchid Society Show, Santa Maria, CA. [AOS award no. 19800152.]
Paphiopedilum Moorenot 'Carimo Colossal' HCC/AOS, Cabrillo Orchid Society Show, Santa Maria, CA. [AOS award no. 19800153.]
May 20, 1980:
Paphiopedilum Clinkaberryanum 'Carimo' AM/AOS, Regional Monthly Judging, Oakland, CA. [AOS award no. 19800745.]
Paphiopedilum Saint Swithin 'Carimo' HCC/AOS, Regional Monthly Judging, Oakland, CA. [AOS award no. 19800752.]
¿ Have you ever seen a ...
We haven't either! The only one we know of is Hanesara Golden Beauty, created by Masao Yamada and registered by John Hanes in 1977. It is now, if it still exists at all, a Burkillara (=Aerides × Arachnis × Vanda). The parentage is Vanda (Neofinetia) falcata × Aeridachnis Bogor (which, in turn, is Arachnis hookeriana × Aerides odorata). It was likely a smallish Neofinetia-like plant with yellow flowers, but beyond that, we can't guess. Peter Lin, are you following this?
We haven't either! The only one we know of is Hugofreedara Pigmy, created by Frederick L. Thornton (Thornton's Orchids, West Palm Beach, FL) and registered by Hugo Freed in 1978. It is now, if it still exists at all, a Vandaenopsis (=Phalaenopsis × Vanda), and before that, a Beardara (=Ascocentrum × Doritis × Phalaenopsis). The parentage is Vanda (Ascocentrum) miniata × Phalaenopsis Tiny (which, in turn, is Phalaenopsis (formerly Doritis) pulcherrima × Phalaenopsis (formerly Kingidium, which replaced the name Kingiella) deliciosa (synonyms include Kingiella philippinensis)). No photos or other citations of this plant seem to be known; in effect, it was never heard from again after its registration.
The creation story of Rehfieldara was published by Helmut Rohrl in a two-part spread in Orchid Digest 67(1) (2003), lavishly illustrated with color photographs: A Century of Oncidiinae Hybridizing: Part I: Introduction to the Oncidiinae Species and Hybrids (pp. 36-42); Part II: Ada and Its Hybrid Genera (pp. 43-49). Rohrl had been a close friend of Jerry Rehfield for many years. As early as 1983 they had discussed the future of Oncidium intergenerics. Jerry was also well known in his younger years as a professional ice skater and coach. His orchid career included AOS judging and a nursery called Starbek Farms. He was born Glendale in 1926, and died in Carpenteria in 2003. He was well known to SCOS from its earliest years.
"Controllable Cattleyas": How to Control Flowering in the Greenhouse
We have already seen how the history of orchid growing as a business and as a hobby in Southern California was shaped by "magnates" of various kinds: money inherited from "railroad magnates" and "department store magnates" allowed Dr. Henry O. Eversole to work out optimum temperature and nutrition requirements for Phalaenopsis, and led to the creation of some very influential hybrids in the 1940's and 50's (see our August, 2021 blog on the Orchid Research Co. of Altadena, CA). Another heir to Los Angeles department store money, Joseph Winchester Urmston, devoted himself to Cattleya breeding and worked out a practical method for controlling the flowering of Cattleya labiata and its hybrids, so that they could be made to flower outside of their normal season, and thus come to market as cut flowers in time for any desired date, from Thanksgiving to Easter and even as late as June. This discovery led to a collaboration of four men with very different backgrounds, the subjects of our blog this month.
Joseph Winchester Urmston was heir to his grandfather, Joseph Winchester Robinson, owner of the Robinson's department stores (as in "Robinsons-May", the last of which closed in 2006). The original store was J. W. Robinson's Boston Dry Goods Store, established in 1883 on the southwest corner of Spring and Temple Streets in Los Angeles. By 1887, it was located in the 900 block of South Broadway. Robinson died in 1891, succeeded by his son Henry Winchester Robinson, who renamed the store from "Boston Dry Goods Store" to "J. W. Robinson Company". A new store was built in 1895, at 239 S. Broadway, now a parking lot—as has happened to so many once-significant buildings in Southern California. This was followed in 1915 by the truly grand store at 600 W. Seventh Street, occupying the entire block between Grand and Hope. At first, it had about nine acres of floor space, eventually enlarged to about 14 acres. That vast store closed in 1993, but the building remains, with retail shops at ground level and office space above.
Joseph W. Urmston was born in Los Angeles March 11, 1905, son of John K. Urmston and Alma Sprague Robinson. At his death, August 9, 1958, he was recognized as "one of the world's leading orchid geneticists and growers". Joseph graduated from UCLA and then went on to get his Doctorate in physical chemistry at Cal Tech. The family home was in San Marino. However, his obituary notes that he turned his attention full time to his early hobby of orchid growing, and eventually had greenhouses in South Gate. He and his wife Petronella ("Nell", born in Amsterdam) were also enthusiastic fans of terriers, especially the Kerry Blue breed.
But it is the orchids that concern us here! Joseph Urmston is credited as the originator of 43 orchid hybrids, all but one of them Cattleya hybrids. He registered 29 of them himself, the remaining 14 were registered by Etta Gray (1), H. Lawrence (3), Grayce Hecker (1, she and her husband were very active SCOS members before they moved to Las Vegas), Fred Stewart Co. (2), and, several years after Joseph's death, Tayama Greenhouses, in Encinitas, CA (7). These hybrids won some awards and many were parents of other hybrids, some created by, or named after, or otherwise associated with SCOS members. Very few pictures seem to have survived. Urmston also became an accredited AOS judge. There is probably much more to be learned about his career in orchids, but he seems not to have been a self-promoter, and, as far as we know, left almost no written record of his activities (but see below for the exception).
However, before Urmston got around to registering his hybrids, he found Joseph Hampton, then working as an orchidist for Ben Myers, President of Union Bank of Los Angeles, in Beverly Hills Estates. Joe Hampton had worked for Armacost and Royston beginning in 1927, while still in school, until he went to work for Mr. Myers about 1934. About 1936, then, Hampton became Urmston's "assistant". He remained in that position until about 1951, when he joined Ben O. Bracey's firm. In 1959 he moved to Goleta as manager of the Cattleya division of Dos Pueblos Orchid Co. Urmston and Hampton thus worked together for about 14-15 years.
By about 1948, their experiments in how best to bring Cattleya hybrids into flower had resulted in a major breakthrough. By providing a few hours of extra light — and not very much light, in fact; all that was needed was a 100 watt light bulb every 10 feet along the ridge of the greenhouse, for several hours a night, or all night on alternate nights — flowering of the Cattleyas that normally bloom in the fall, especially hybrids of C. labiata, could be delayed indefinitely. All that was necessary was to discontinue the extra light about two months prior to the desired flowering date, and the normal day length in Southern California at those times of the year would trigger the growth of the buds and flowering. Cattleyas were mainly a cut-flower greenhouse crop in those days (for corsages, wedding bouquets, high-end arrangements, etc.), so the possibility of marketing big orchid flowers for all the holidays from Thanksgiving to Easter was considered a very remarkable development. This was especially true for colors other than white and lavender, most of which at that time, if left to themselves, were also fall bloomers.
But would anyone put this new method into practice? Somehow, Urmston managed to connect with Ralph Kiesewetter, who owned one of the largest greenhouse operations on the East Coast. Kiesewetter advertised in the AOS Bulletin. He had already originated a huge number of Cattleya hybrids (he would later be famous for some outstanding Phalaenopsis hybrids, including Phal. Cast Iron Monarch, which appears in the ancestry of about 2/3 of all "standard" Phalaenopsis hybrids). He was also active on AOS committees and served as a Trustee.
Kiesewetter had made the acquaintance of Valentino Sarra, an Italian immigrant who had become the best, most sought-after commercial photographer in New York, and possibly the most famous in the entire country. Sarra caught the orchid bug about 1942 and was soon employed by the Patterson greenhouses in New Jersey and likely by other growers as well, to provide photos for their advertising. At some point around 1948, he became Kiesewetter's preferred photographer, and his signature appears on most of the photographs in Kiesewetter's big ads in the AOS Bulletin. In fact, Sarra was so deep into orchids, he became very active in AOS. He served on a number of committees (involving incorporation of the society, awards, policy for advertisements in the AOS Bulletin, etc.) and even became a Trustee for two terms. He was known and appreciated for his exhibits at local flower shows in New York City, and his plants won several AOS awards. He shared his photographic expertise in an article in the AOS Bulletin (20(7):391-394, July, 1950), which modern readers will still find very instructive.
The first hint the public had that there was a different way of growing Cattleyas was a display of fall-blooming Cattleyas at the 1949 International Spring Flower Show in New York City. While for the most part the flowers seem not to have been award winners on their own merits (but there was one FCC award), the fact that they were in full bloom in the wrong season was not lost on the professional growers nor on the orchid press.
The International Flower Show, March 21-26, 1949 at the Grand Central Palace in New York City was reported at length in the AOS Bulletin 18(5):310-316 (May, 1949). Kiesewetter's display received a long paragraph that captures the moment vividly: "A unique display by Ralph R. Kiesewetter of Roslyn, Long Island, received a Gold Medal from the International Flower Show. This exhibit was a special group of flowering-controlled orchids covering 50 square feet. There were two groups of Cattleyas, one mostly dark and one group of whites. The darks included C. Peetersii, C. amabilis, C. Portia and C. labiata, Lc. Cavalese and Ls. Cuestra [error! This was Lc. (now C.) Cuesta!]. The whites included C. Souvenir de Bonito, C. Joyce Hannington, and Bc. Olive Goveia [error! Should be Olive Govea]. The unusual feature of this display was the fact that these plants had been especially cultured under controlled conditions to enable them to flower for the New York Show. As will be noted, most of the plants were flowering considerably out of season. This control of light and other cultural factors was done by Joseph W. Urmston of San Marino, California, and when the plants were in bud, they were shipped east to flower in the greenhouses of Mr. Kiesewetter. The principles involved in this flowering control have been utilitzed for years by the growers of Chrysanthemums, but this is believed to be the first time this technique has been applied on a large scale to orchids. A full write-up of the methods is promised for publication in the Bulletin in the near future. The American Orchid Society awarded a Gold Medal for cultural achievement to Mr. Joseph W. Urmston for his work on this group of Cattleyas. In addition, a preliminary F.C.C. was given, subject to naming, to Lc. Crowborough crossed with Lc. Hilary displayed in Mr. Kiesewetter's exhibit."
Left to the reader's imagination is how a large number of budded Cattleyas was successfully transported from Los Angeles to New York City in February or March! By air? rail? At that time of year, there would have been substantial risk of cold damage. Nevertheless, they arrived safely and were transported to Kiesewetter's greenhouses on Long Island, where they came into bloom right on schedule.
The only AOS award we could find from that event for Urmston and Kiesewetter's plants in the usual sources was the FCC/AOS. The Gold Medal was awarded by the New York Horticultural Society, not, as far as we could determine, by the AOS, in spite of the notice that appears in the figure below. Hence, the AOS Register of Awards, OrchidPro, and other compilations of orchid awards give no hint of their accomplishment. We finally located the separate notice of the AOS Gold Medal, AOS Bulletin 18(5):295 (May, 1949), "Group of Cattleyas, gold medal for cultural achievement. Exhibited by R. Kiesewetter and Joseph W. Urmston, San Marino, Calif.", but this award was not included in the Register of Awards. From this example, we learn that the Register, although evidently prepared with great care, is not always the last word for AOS awards before 1969. Errors and omissions are still a possibility.
Capitalizing on this success, Kiesewetter produced a series of extravagant ads in the AOS Bulletin announcing the development of "controllable Cattleyas", with photos by Sarra, several in full color, a detailed report by Urmston explaining his discovery, and lists of some of the "controllable" hybrids that had been produced by Urmston, which Kiesewetter was now marketing.
In one of these ads, this one extending to four full pages (AOS Bulletin 18(10):652-655, October, 1949), Kiesewetter prevailed on Urmston to describe his methods at length:
Very few pictures of Urmston's hybrids have survived. The first one he registered is C. Joseph Hampton in 1948, thus recognizing his colleague. This hybrid was by far the most popular with hybridizers right down to fairly recent times, when it was a parent of C. Memoria Rex Namekata, registered in 2009 by Toyoji Namekata of Funabashi, Chiba, Japan. Ralph Kiesewetter exhibited a cultivar 'Majestic' in New York City on January 17, 1951, where it received an FCC/AOS. The photo survived and, digitized (but the color slide ? was very dusty), is found in the AOS awards database.
The effects of day length and night temperature on the flowering of Cattleyas continued to be studied by plant physiologists and orchid growers alike. The topic was discussed at length in several editions of Rebecca Northen's Home Orchid Growing. But the cut-flower market all but disappeared in the 1960's, and the control of Cattleya flowering in commercial greenhouses seems also to have disappeared. "Controllable Cattleyas" now seem like a footnote in orchid history. They were, however, one of the last episodes where the old money of Los Angeles was used to advance our knowledge of how orchids grow. There were other wealthy Los Angeles families who were serious about orchids, but they seem to have been interested mainly in collecting and showing them. Eversole and Urmston were the conspicuous exceptions: well educated in the sciences, curious about nature, with the skill, patience, and perseverance to undertake well-designed experiments on a large enough scale to reach sound conclusions, and with the ability and inclination to share their results with the public. Both also had the foresight to recruit well-trained assistants who shared their talents for investigation and systematic tinkering.
Whether Urmston, or for that matter Kiesewetter, ever made much money from the "controllable Cattleyas", we don't know. We know they tried, though! In 1952, Sarra and Urmston purchased a commercial greenhouse property in Albertson, Long Island, New York, barely a mile from Kiesewetter's operation. The business was Cali Orchids, and by the next year Merritt Huntington was the manager, another link in the chain of remarkable orchid personalities. But Urmston's story (and Sarra's, too, as it turns out) reminds us how many orchid hobbyists have studied, experimented, and collaborated in pursuit of our hobby. Orchids today come with an enormous amount of lore, from well over a century of hobbyists whose legacy we enjoy today.
Orchid lore matters. For those of you who grow orchids under lights in your house or apartment, there are lessons to be learned. Remember Dr. Eversole, and be mindful of the night temperature in your growing area. Too hot, and your Phals won't grow well. Many others won't flower if the nights are too warm. Remember Urmston, and pay attention to the day length, as well as the possible effects of room lights in the evening. Many orchids need shorter days in order for the buds to initiate or to develop into flowers — 11 hours will be short enough (consider the actual day length in the places where your orchids grow in their native, tropical habitats). But when the day length reaches about 13 hours or more, that can be enough to inhibit flowering completely in some orchids. For orchids, more hours of light, or more heat during the night, may not be better!
How Pink Doll Got Her Spots, or, Seen Any Good Cahuzacaras Lately?
Potinara Hsinying Pink Doll 'Hsinying' AM/AOS has been a popular plant ever since its first award (BM/TOGA) in 2006. The hybrid was registered in 2005 by
Ching Hua Orchids Co. Ltd., in Hsinying, Taiwan. The parents, at the time, were called Brassocattleya Little Mermaid and Potinara Li Jiuan
Dancer. Hsinying Pink Doll is a delightful Cattleya hybrid — the plant is small enough to be manageable in a home orchid collection, and the flowers are about
4½" across, with good form and color. On closer inspection, however, it turns out Hsinying Pink Doll has spots, most noticeably on the back of the petals, but
also on the lip and column. To those of us of a certain generation, they look like measles! This is the tale of the spots and of the surprising name changes that
changed Hsinying Pink Doll from a Potinara very briefly to a Baraniara, and then to a Cahuzacara, a story in four parts.
Part 1: Spots
The spots in some Cattleya hybrids come from Brassavola (but not from the two species that were split out as Rhyncholaelia, that's another story
entirely). Some specimens of Brassavola nodosa, for example, have a few spots on the lip. In primary hybrids such as Brassavola nodosa ×
Cattleya (now Guarianthe) bowringiana, registered in 1944 as Brassocattleya (now Brassanthe) Maikai by Hirose Nurseries, Hilo,
Hawaii, the entire flower is covered in small purple spots.
Maikai has turned out to be a phenomenal hybrid, especially the cultivar 'Mayumi', which has produced some astounding specimen plants with hundreds of flowers.
So far, Maikai has been the parent of at least 95 hybrids, many of them with full, spotted lips.
Maikai has star-shaped flowers with a big lip. Judges want much wider petals and sepals. Some of Maikai's hybrids were intended to achieve that goal, while others concentrated on color, flower size, and compact habit. At least 16 of the Maikai hybrids have won awards, and there are already a few awarded plants among Maikai's grandchildren. However, about half of the Maikai hybrids are so new — registered in the past 5 years — that it's too early to know how they will perform and how they will be received by the judges.
The Maikai hybrid that seems to have got the most attention from breeders is a cross with Cattleya walkeriana, registered in 1997 by Dogashima Orchid Center, Nishiizu, Shizuoka, Japan as Brassocattleya (now Brassocatanthe) Little Mermaid. With much fuller, flatter flowers, but fewer of them, the judges responded with several AM/AOS awards, even though the flower count is much reduced compared with Maikai. In fact, some of the other Maikai hybrids have larger and more colorful flowers. Watch for Maikai hybrids at sales!
What happens when one of these cute, spotted B. nodosa hybrids is crossed with a "standard" lavender Cattleya hybrid? Hsinying Pink Doll is a typical result: fine large flowers on a smallish plant, but with some hint of spots! The other parent of Hsinying Pink Doll, Rlc. Li Jiuan Dancer, is apparently an ordinardy lavender Cattleya, probably with darker petals, but we haven't been able to find a picture or any record of an award. So far, the experiment of crossing Little Mermaid with standard Cattleyas has barely begun. Eventually, someone will cross it with something like Mem. Crispin Rosales, Goldenzelle, or Bob Betts, and we will find out!
Part 2: Potinara
Hsingying Pink Doll was originally registered as a Potinara. What is (or was) a Potinara, and where did that name come from? We found the answer, and it wasn't what we expected!
The hybrid genus (or "nothogenus") Potinara was created in 1922 for the intergeneric combination of Brassavola × Cattleya × Laelia × Sophronitis. The name first appeared in The Gardeners' Chronicle, third series, 71:99 (March 4, 1922): "Potinara : a New Multi-generic Hybrid Orchid.—Among many remarkable hybrid Orchids exhibited at the Royal Horticultural Hall, Westminster, on the 28th ult., none was more interesting than Messrs. Charlesworth and Co.'s new Potinara Juliettae, derived from a cross between Sophro-Laelio-Cattleya Marathon and Brasso-Cattleya Ena. As the parentage indicates, the new hybrid is a combination of four genera—Cattleya, Laelia, Brassavola and Sophronitis. The new generic title follows the general rules for such names and has been given in honour of M. Potin, Vice-President of the National Horticultural Society of France, and President of the Orchid Committee of that Society. M. Potin gave a prize of 1,000 francs last year for the finest hybrid obtained by crossing the genera Cattleya, Laelia, Brassavola and Sophronitis, and this was awarded to M. Marcoz of Brunoy, for Brasso-Cattleya Chandon (Cattleya Jeanne Payet × Brasso-Cattleya Mrs. Leemann). M. Potin has announced that he will give a prize of the same value during 1922 for a hybrid raised under similar conditions."
Who was this Monsieur Potin of the Société nationale d'horticulture de France? He was Julien Potin, on the Conseil d'administration for that society in 1921, and Président of the Comité des Orchidées, which also included such luminaries as Dr. Gratiot (originator of the famous Phalaenopsis Gilles Gratiot) and Monsieur
Vacherot fils. In the March 16, 1921 issue of Revue horticole, p. 257, we found the following notice: "Prix Potin au plus bel hybride de Cattleya. M. Julien Potin, président du Comité des Orchidées de la S. N. H., a institué un prix de 1.000 fr. qui sera attribué à l'obteneur ayant présenté, en 1921, le plus bel hybride obtenu par le croisement des genres suivants : Cattleya, Lælia, Brassavola et Sophronitis. Un jury spécial, composée du donateur et du 16 membres du Comité des Orchidées, examinera les présentations aux séances de la Societé." (Potin Prize for the most beautiful Cattleya hybrid. Monsieur Julien Poten, president of the Orchid Committee of the National Horticultural Society, has instituted a prize of 1,000 francs that will be awarded to the exhibitor having presented, in 1921, the most beautiful hybrid obtained by crossing the following genera: Cattleya, Lælia, Brassavola, and Sophronitis. A special jury, composed of the donor and the 16 members of the Orchid Committee, will examine the entries at the meetings of the Society.) Here
we see, at last, why Potinara was the perfect, most appropriate name for this combination of the four traditional genera what figured in the development of modern Cattleya hybrids. It was the idea of Julien Potin to encourage this line of breeding! His contribution should have been recognized with more than just a
botanical name, and it is most unfortunate that his contribution is now likely to be forgotten, with the demise of Potinara, occasioned by the merger of the genus Sophronitis into Cattleya.
Part 3: Baraniara
With the publication of the series Genera Orchidacearum (six volumes, 1999-2014, Oxford University Press, editors Alec M. Pridgeon, Phillip J. Cribb, Mark W. Chase, and Finn N. Rasumssen, currently retailing in the UK for £150 per volume), the Orchid Committee of the Royal Horticultural Society was presented with a huge challenge. Well-known orchid species were unceremoniously transferred to new genera. Some genera were lumped, others were split. The changes were generally accepted by the Royal Horticultural Society, but those decisions had consequences for the registration of orchid hybrids. In particular, when the earlier split of Ryncholaelia digbyana from Brassavola, which had been generally accepted by taxonomists for a long time, was finally recognized for purposes of orchid hybrid registration, it suddenly became necessary to create a huge number of new hybrid genera for the old Brassavola intergeneric hybrids that
involved the newly-recognized name, Rhyncholaelia digbyana. The decision to proceed with some of the changes was taken in May, 2007, separating Rhyncholaelia from Brassavola, Guarianthe from Cattleya, transferring certain Brazilian Laelias to Sophronitis, and dividing Schomburkia between Laelia and Myrmecophila. The Orchid Registrar, Julian Shaw, suddenly had to come up with 78 new names, which were published in the Quarterly Supplement to the International Register of Orchid Hybrids (April–June 2007 Registrations), as part of Orchid Review 115 (September-October, 2007).
Unfortunately, few orchid growers have seen, or likely will ever see, the data and reasoning that occasioned this tumult. Genera Orchidacearum is so expensive as to be beyond the reach of almost everyone, including major libraries. At the moment, even some used volumes are being offered for over $400 US. While
the six volumes are very likely grand and monumental, they are not, for that very reason, particularly effective at communicating whatever information they might contain. It is in the nature of science that information has to be freely available, otherwise the conversation of many minds that validates and extends its results will not take place.
This change affected the old Potinara Hsinying Pink Doll, because its ancestry now contained five genera, Brassavola, Cattleya, Guarianthe, Rhyncholaelia, and Sophronitis. The new hybrid genus created for this combination by Julian Shaw was called Baraniara, named after Sérgio Barani of Guararema, São Paulo, Brazil, orchid grower and civil engineer (in that order).
Barani seems to be little known in the US, in spite of over 300 Cattleya hybrids (and some others) that he has registered. We found a long and very perceptive interview, with excellent photographs, on the Brazilian Orchids web site of Delphina de Araujo and Sérgio Araujo, in their Orchid News blog, probably the best biography of a modern orchid breeder we have ever encountered. We have to say, also, that Barani is a big fan of some of the Cattleya hybrids that feature in SCOS history, such as Goldenzelle and
Eve Marie Barnett. Mr. Shaw made a good choice in creating the hybrid genus Baraniara. Barani's work needs to be better known. It is very sad that the genus had to be replaced only a couple months later, when all the Sophronitis were suddenly dumped into Cattleya. There was no ceremony for that, either.
Here is a small selection of Barani's hybrids, from AOS award records:
Part 4: Cahuzacara
With the disappearance of Sophronitis, which, however, still lives on in the hearts of orchid growers nearly everywhere, Potinara was now completely obsolete. (However, if Sophronitis makes a taxonomic comeback someday, Potinara, too, will be resurrected.) At the same time, a great number of the still brand new hybrid genera from the April–June, 2007 registrations now became obsolete themselves, for the same reason. The Quarterly Supplement to the International Register of Orchid Hybrids, July–September 2007 Registrations (Orchid Review 115 (November-December, 2007)) presented 55 new intergeneric names, which Mr. Shaw introduced with the words, "The nightmare for the registration staff continues". Indeed, it would take some further rearrangements to get everything straightened out, and hardly anyone is yet comfortable with the new names.
And so it was that, after only two months as Baraniara Hsinying Pink Doll, our spotted hybrid was quietly changed to Cahuzacara Hsinying Pink Doll.
The registrar helpfully noted that the new hybrid genus, consisting of Brassavola × Cattleya × Guarianthe × Rhyncholaelia, was named after M. Cahuzac of France, active 1895-1906. We dug deeper. Cahuzac, it turns out, was actually Monsieur Raymond Martin-Cahuzac, proprietor of the domaine or vineyard of Sybirol (Floirac, Département de la Gironde, France). The family name is correctly written either as "Martin Cahuzac" (a type of "nom composé" or compound surname sometimes used in the south of France) or else in a less ambiguous, more modern form, "Martin-Cahuzac". The use of the family name without the hyphen results in, among other things, the creation of a fictitious person called Martin Cahuzac, or even (both during his lifetime and also today in France by local historians!) Raymond-Martin Cahuzac (misplacing the hyphen and thus making his given names Raymond-Martin, and his family name Cahuzac) and also in the use of Cahuzac as the basis for an orchid hybrid genus. In Linden's Journal des Orchidées (Ghent, 1891), he is named repeatedly as one of Linden's "collaborators", as Monsieur R. Martin Cahuzac or R. Martin-Cahuzac, and at that date, he was a "well-known French amateur", and his orchid collection, "among the most beautiful one could admire today in France". The real Raymond Martin-Cahuzac died in May, 1910, since 1893 président de la Société horticole et viticole de la Gironde, Légion d'honneur 1901. The red wine of Bordeaux from his domaine of Sybirol was called Château-La-Molère. His garden interests included peonies as well as orchids. He is the Jean-Raymond-Hippolyte Martin, born February 8, 1847 at Béziers (Hérault, France), and died in Paris May 18, 1910 (VIIIme Arrondissement, 14 Rue Pelouze), who was legally authorized to add Cahuzac to his paternal surname of Martin in 1888, as his mother was from the Cahuzac family, locally considered part of the nobility.
Monsieur Martin-Cahuzac originated and registered two orchid hybrids, Paph. Cahuzacii (Pavoninum × villosum) in 1899, and Cattleya Hardieri (warscewiczii × Juvenilis) in 1906. He was known especially for his fine specimen of Cattlea trianae dubbed variety Madame R. Martin-Cahuzac (in honor of his wife, but sometimes cited just as variety Martin-Cahuzac), illustrated in Lindenia, tome 5, plate 230. Whether the discovery of these details requires a further change of hybrid genus name, perhaps to Martincahuzacara or Martin-Cahuzacara, we don't know. If the goal of the recent taxonomic exercises was to make orchid labels increasingly difficult to manage, this example will certainly advance that cause.
Thus, a number of orchids we knew as Potinara were transformed briefly to Baraniara and are now Cahuzacara. Most of the hybrids that took
this strange journey will have spots on the lip or somewhere on the petals, from their Brassavola ancestry. At least some of them are from hardy stock, well suited to outdoor growing conditions in Southern California. Many of them are still quite new in the trade, and will likely still be marketed as Potinara. Take a look at a few of the awarded Cahuzacara below.
Long Beach Award Photos, 1954-1973
For the last couple years, we have been trying to find the story of the judging program that has been held during South Coast Orchid Society meetings since December, 1954, when, as a result of a vote of the membership a couple months earlier, the society decided to set up a judging program under the auspices of Orchid Digest Corporation. We were alerted to this history when Brandon Tam told us about a collection of SCOS newsletters in the "Orchid Archives" at the Huntington Botanical Center. The newsletters turned out to be an almost complete run covering the years 1958-1973, which had been donated by former SCOS member Rita Crothers, probably first to the Orchid Digest Corporation library, which later was deposited at the Botanical Center.
We know the newsletters came from Rita because there are some attachments or enclosures with the newsletters that are addressed to her, as well as a page of notes for a program she gave about how she and her husband Herbert Crothers first got into orchid growing and how they moved from Eastern Washington to Southern California to pursue their hobby. The newsletters at that time routinely reported the activities of the judging center. There were also some SCOS meeting summaries and some lists of ODC awards published from time to time in Orchid Digest.
When the ODC judging program was discontinued and consolidated with the AOS judging program at the end of 1967, the Long Beach judging center continued with the same team under AOS standards, which were by then virtually identical with the ODC standards they had been using for years. The SCOS newsletters continued to report the activities of the judging center until late in 1973, when the newsletter editor of the time apparently lost interest. But there was enough information in the newsletters to support a nearly complete reconstruction of the Long Beach AOS awards up to that point.
Eventually, we tracked down the various sources that needed to be compared: After an award was published in our newsletter, it would be published in the AOS Bulletin, provided the award had been accepted, the award fee had been paid, and the hybrid name, if any, had been duly registered with the Royal Horticultural Society. Next, for 1968, the information would be published in the last supplement of the Register of Awards, which was finalized in September, 1969. Starting with awards conferred in 1969, the information would be published in the Register's replacement, the new Awards Quarterly as well. By 1976, the AOS Bulletin stopped publishing regular awards information altogether. Much later, AOS began to compile awards information into a database. After several generations of databases, we now have an online version called OrchidPro, which is available to all AOS members on the AOS web site.
As early as the 1950's, it was obvious that any judging program needed to maintain color photographs of the awarded flowers, in order to provide a way to compare today's award candidates with those from the past. By the 1960's, color slides were being made at the Long Beach judging center. Under AOS standards, at least, duplicates of the slides were being sent to AOS headquarters, which made further duplicates to send out to the other judging centers and apparently also to AOS affiliate societies for use in their programs.
Exactly where all those slides ended up is still something of a mystery. We know that some of them were scanned and turned into digital images of varying quality, some apparently using very primitive equipment, over a period of years or maybe even decades. As a result, the images in OrchidPro vary from none at all, and some very bad scans, to excellent images with good color balance and resolution.
After a lot of work, we have managed to pull together four surviving award photos from the ODC days, and a much larger number of early AOS award photos. What a revelation! At last, we can have some idea what our former members were growing and how successful they were! At least a few of the people whose plants received awards in those days are still with us, notably Dr. Norito Hasegawa.
There are problems in the award records. Some awards were never published in the AOS Bulletin. A few were published but did not find their way into OrchidPro. We found several awards where duplicate numbers had been assigned by AOS, in such a way that some of the information in OrchidPro was incorrect, or a photo was attached to the wrong award, etc. Laura Newton, AOS awards coordinator, has been a great help in untangling these problems.
Another source for award photos is the proprietary database OrchidWiz. A number of growers have contributed their photo collections to OrchidWiz, and it turns out some of those photos are very definitely award photos from the Long Beach site. Sometimes the photo is identical to one that is in OrchidPro (but digitized with different equipment and on different occasions). Sometimes the one in OrchidWiz is a mirror image of the one in OrchidPro, or has been edited in some way. Sometimes it is clear from the photo description in OrchidWiz, and from the way the photo is "posed", that it is an award photo.
It will be much harder to identify errors in the awards database after 1973, because we lack SCOS newsletters as well as the multiple AOS sources that might reveal discrepancies. The only available sources are the Awards Quarterly, the OrchidPro database, and the additional photos and references in OrchidWiz. As time permits, we will continue the project!
It has been a long time since SCOS was able to meet in person. We all miss the displays of amazing flowers that our members brought to the meetings. The old award photos will substitute for the real thing, a much-needed virtual SCOS flower show.
The Orchid Research Company of Altadena, CA, 1945-1957
While researching the astoundlying deep pedigree of Phalaenopsis Jiuhbao Sweetie for our May, 2021 blog, we were intrigued to
find several hybrids in its vast ancestry that were created by "Orchid Research Company" of Altadena, California, a small community just north of Pasadena, tucked
up against the foothills of the San Gabriel mountains. It seemed a strange name for an orchid nursery; we couldn't help but wonder how this long-forgotten
enterprise fit into Southern California orchid history. It took some time to unearth even the most basic facts. After several months, we think we have found most
of the story, which turns out to be quite remarkable.
The story begins with old money of Los Angeles. Two of the "railroad magnates" of early Los Angeles were General Moses H. Sherman (1853-1932; he wasn't a
military general, but he served two terms as Adjutant-General of the Territory of Arizona, see Wikipedia
article) and his brother-in-law Eli P. Clark (1847-1931; see Wikipedia article). Together, and with
a view toward opening up this new and still wide-open land to real estate development, they cobbled together a small empire of local railroads and turned them
into the first efficient transportation network for Southern California. About 1891, they built the first electric rail line from Los Angeles to Pasadena, later
purchased by Henry E. Huntington. Another consolidation in the railroad industry gave Sherman and Clark additional resources to build a line from Los Angeles to
Santa Monica. The embryonic rail network grew to include Hollywood and other areas. By about 1910, Clark had sold his interests in the rail system and was
engaged in other projects — including the enjoyment of his fine mansion in St. James Park, and participation in local civic affairs. He had three
daughters, Mary, Lucy, and Katherine, and a son Eugene.
Another enterprising arrival in Los Angeles was Malcolm McNaghten (1890-1959), from a family centered around Fairfield Co., Ohio. He was a successful broker
and later a "department store magnate" — he succeeded his father-in-law, Arthur Letts, as president of The Broadway Department Store. McNaghten purchased
a large property on Michigan Avenue in La Cañada and built an enormous hilltop estate, about 1914. The area was so new, there were no house numbers, and
Michigan Avenue later became part of Foothill Boulevard. McNaghten built a second mansion on the same property in 1917, which was featured in the "Southern
California Edition" of Architectural Digest in 1922. By the mid-1930's, when house numbers were assigned, both mansions shared the same street address,
1856 Foothill Boulevard. Later, the second mansion became 1850 Foothill Boulevard — it still stands today, but as a result of freeway construction and
subdivisions, the view is not as spectacular as it was when it was built. (McNaghten's next mansion was in Holmby Hills, later known as the Bing Crosby
Enter Dr. Henry Owen Eversole (1877-1963), also from Fairfield Co., Ohio, whose mother Lucy McNaghten was a first cousin of Malcolm McNaghten's father (Dr.
Eversole and Malcolm McNaghten were thus second cousins). After spending most of his youth in Denver, Dr. Eversole had served in the Spanish American War, and was
so deeply affected by the lack of effective battlefield medical care that he decided to study medicine. He attended UCLA, passed his medical exams, and became a
physician in 1908. He did two years of post-graduate work at Columbia and Johns Hopkins Universities and at universities in Berlin, Vienna, and a famous clinic in
Davos, Switzerland. Returning to the Los Angeles area, he married Mary Clark, daughter of the "railroad magnate" Eli P. Clark, in 1910, and thus became connected
both with the McNaghten fortune as well as the Clark fortune. He returned to Europe with his bride for additional work in medical research, specializing in
During World War I, he served as a Major with the Red Cross, and continued with humanitarian efforts after the war, including some extraordinary exploits dealing
with refugees and displaced children in Europe and Siberia (see below). For a time, he was a representative of the Rockefeller Foundation in Europe, negotiating
and advising on matters of public health, famine relief, child welfare, and medical education, and his family divided their time between the Los Angeles area and
the capitals of Europe, especially Paris. By 1931, he and his family had returned to the Los Angeles area permanently. He had purchased "The Boulders" from Malcolm
McNaghten in 1921 and now set about updating it. The other house on that original property, still without a house number, had been sold to Leo Harvey, an immigrant
who had developed his machine shop into a major industry, Harvey Aluminum. When house numbers were eventually assigned, both Dr. Eversole and Harvey, the "aluminum
magnate", lived at 1856 Michigan Ave. and later 1856 Foothill Blvd., although in different mansions, a situation that led to some rather confusing newspaper
accounts of both families' social activities. It took some research to establish that the first mansion, the one on the hilltop at the center of the original
property and still bearing the street address 1856 Foothill Boulevard, was the one known as "The Boulders", occupied by succeeding generations of the Eversole
family until 2007. Leo Harvey occupied the one that is now 1850 Foothill Boulevard, until about 1948-1950, when he commissioned a spectacular "mid-century
modern" residence that overlooks the American Film Institute and a corner of Griffith Park.
Dr. Eversole's medical research in Europe had exposed him to the scientific method, which he took very seriously. Somewhere along the line, he became
interested in exotic plants as well as things mechanical, such as the built-in refrigeration plant at "The Boulders", manufactured by General Electric, and,
apparently, still operational within the past decade. It was likely added when the house was updated in 1931. He also added what was said to be the finest
swimming pool in La Cañada, as well as two greenhouses, which he equipped with the latest devices for automation.
At that time, around 1931-1933, orchids were available in quantity in Southern California. Armacost & Royston's greenhouses in West Los Angeles had been
developing the cut-flower trade in orchids since 1921, when they brought in Ben O. Bracey from England as their orchid specialist and then in 1922 imported Dr.
Lewis Knudsen from Cornell University to teach them the new "nonsymbiotic" technology for growing orchids from seed on artificial media in sterile flasks. By
the 1930's, Armacost & Royston were producing new orchid hybrids as well as cut flowers (they were also famous for their African violet hybrids), and orchid
growing was becoming a popular hobby among the social elite. At one time, the best orchid collection in Southern California was reputed to be that of the Doheny
family. The McNaghtens, too, were known for their fine orchids, and soon Dr. Eversole had his own collection, very highly regarded. It was not long before orchids
began to figure prominently in the flower shows put on by local garden clubs.
Dr. Eversole, however, seems to have been fascinated by the possibilities of modern, scientific methods applied to orchid culture. It seems he started by
tinkering with the temperature controls on his greenhouses. By all accounts, his powers of observation and logic were exceptional, and he soon worked out that
Phalaenopsis orchids grew best when the night temperature was somewhat cooler than the day temperature. He played with the greenhouse controls until he
was sure: the night temperature needed to be around 68° F, while the daytime temperature needed to be around 80° F. He had thus discovered the
phenomenon of "thermoperiodicity" in plants.
Dr. Eversole continued his experiments. He made contact with the leading plant physiologist at Cal Tech, Dr. Frits W. Went (1903-1990, later Director of the
Missouri Botanical Garden 1958-1963), who was so impressed that he soon arranged a Research Associate position for Dr. Eversole. Meanwhile, Dr. Eversole needed
help with his gardens and greenhouses. He employed a promising young college graduate, Glenn H. Hiatt (1913-2007), who grew up in the Pasadena area. Hiatt and
at least one other gardener lived on the Eversole estate and assisted with the experiments, starting around 1935. Eventually, Dr. Went was able to offer Hiatt
a position as a Research Assistant at Cal Tech. At the time, experiments with artificial nutrient solutions for plants had been taken up by many other researchers
besides Dr. Knudsen, such as Dr. Hoagland at Berkeley, as well as a few others, both amateurs and professionals, in Southern California. The experiments at
"The Boulders" expanded to include development of methods for growing orchids in "artificial" media, notably gravel, sand, and eventually, "air culture", relying
entirely on carefully controlled nutrient solutions.
Another line of experimentation was taken up with Dr. Went at Cal Tech, a demonstration project for effective temperature control of commercial-sized greenhouses.
This work led to several publications that described cost-effective methods for air-conditioning, based on careful analysis of real-world radiation inputs,
energy efficiency, and mechanical and electrical engineering options. Dr. Eversole's sister-in-law Lucy Clark even financed construction of experimental greenhouses
at Cal Tech.
Dr. Eversole had elected to use what today we would call "standard" Phalaenopsis hybrids, which were then an important cut-flower crop, as his experimental
subjects. In order to design proper experiments on a sufficiently large scale to produce statistically convincing results, however, he would need a large, uniform
population of plants, all at the same stage of growth, and that seems to be why he and his Orchid Research Company created new Phalaenopsis hybrids.
At the time, the only way to obtain such a population of Phalaenopsis plants was to grow them from seed using Knudsen's flask method. Cloning had not yet been
invented. The Phalaenopsis hybrids came about, then, as a necessary by-product of Dr. Eversole's experiments! Hiatt's articles mention that the original
parent plants, representing the best hybrids then known, mostly from France, such as Gilles Gratiot, Jeanne d'Arc, Elisabethae, and a few others, came from commercial
sources. They must have been obtained from nearby Armacost & Royston (in West Los Angeles), who had already produced a few hybrids of their own, such as Frolic
(Gilles Gratiot × stuartiana). Eversole and Hiatt made some crosses, harvested the pods, and grew the seedlings in flasks. Next, they planted the
seedlings out into flats in clean sand, which were dunked on a documented schedule in the test nutrient solutions. As the scale of the experiments grew, and the
plants, too, became larger, the flats were replaced with repurposed kitchen sinks obtained from salvage yards, and eventually by large concrete tubs.
By 1945, the time had come to apply what had been learned on an even larger scale. Dr. Eversole seems to have financed and set up the "Orchid Research Company",
on a vacant property at 560 Atlanta Street in Altadena (the street is now called Woodbury Road). Hiatt was one of the employees, and within a few years, seems to
have become the proprietor. Eversole, meanwhile, was increasingly enjoying his retirement. He and his wife moved to Santa Barbara about 1955, and his son Henry
O. Eversole Jr. took over "The Boulders", which remained in the Eversole family for nearly a century. Henry Jr., trained as a lawyer, eventually developed a large
frozen food business, perhaps inspired by that General Electric refrigeration plant at "The Boulders", and so, became a "frozen food magnate" or even a "refrigerator
One of the first orders of business for the new Orchid Research Company must have been to register their hybrids! The first batch appeared in the list of
"New Orchid Hybrids" in Orchid Review in January, 1947, and they were duly included in the next edition of Sander's List, though not without one
error (see the inset on Phal. La Cañada, below). Further hybrids were registered until 1951, and then one more, originated by Orchid Research Co.,
was registered in 1956 by a private orchid grower. There was also one more hybrid listed by the Royal Horticultural Society under the registrant name "Orchid
Research Co.", in 1969, but that turns out to be a mistake by RHS, which is now being corrected (see in inset on Phal. Lynn Dewey, registered by "Orchid
Research Committee", below.)
By 1957, with Dr. Eversole retired to Santa Barbara, and Glenn Hiatt now employed by the Los Angeles State and County Arboretum (he remained on the staff there
until he retired in 1973), the Orchid Research Company ceased operations. Its greenhouses in Altadena had been sold a couple years earlier and became the "Orchid
Company of Altadena", under the management of Norris Powell, and, for a time, Hans Gubler. By the mid-1960's, the site was sold for commercial or industrial
Phalaenopsis La Cañada
This hybrid of Gilles Gratiot (Dr. Jean Gratiot, 1920) × Jeanne d'Arc (Vacherot et Lecoufle, 1931) was shown in the RHS database as registered in 1931 by
Orchid Research Co. The more we learned about Dr. Eversole and the Orchid Research Company, the more convinced we became that the 1931 date could not possibly be
correct. We sought the assistance of Julian Shaw, Registrar of orchid hybrids for the RHS. The hybrid was originally published as La Canada in the 1946 edition
of Sander's List, but, unlike the other hybrids from Orchid Research Co. that appeared for the first time in the same edition, all showing the date 1946,
the date on this one was left blank. Mr. Shaw found no source for the 1931 date, and concluded that the missing date had somehow been "estimated" as 1931 when
the RHS orchid hybrid registration database was created in the 1980's. We continued the search, and discovered that the entire group of 1946 Orchid Research Co.
hybrids, along with "La Canada", had been published in the "New Orchid Hybrids" section of Orchid Review in January, 1947 — in those days, Sander's
firm managed the registry, and forwarded the list of recently received registrations to Orchid Review. Clearly, the dates on all the hybrids in this group
should have been the same, 1946. Also, we noted that the hybrid name, as well as the place name, was generally spelled La Cañada (with the
tilde) when it was mentioned in Orchid Digest and the AOS Bulletin in the 1950's. Consistent with modern RHS usage that restores diacritical marks
in hybrids that are named after people or places where those marks are correct, Mr. Shaw has accepted the change in spelling as well, so the registration
database will in the future show, correctly, Phal. La Cañada, originated and registered by Orchid Research Company in 1946.
That part of the La Cañada story was fairly easy. Complications arose as we worked through Orchid Digest and the AOS Bulletin in search
of the history of the Orchid Research Company. The AOS Bulletin published a single photo labeled Phalaenopsis La Cañada on two different
occasions, in December, 1949 (p. 718) and October, 1952 (p. 714). However, we then discovered the same photo, with somewhat less contrast and wider margins,
published in Orchid Digest (November, 1942, p. 214) as Phalaenopsis Confirmation × Gilles Gratiot — the hybrid that was registered
by Orchid Research Co. in 1950 as Phal. Halo. In other words, the photos published as La Cañada are probably mislabeled.
However, another photo appeared in Orchid Digest, again twice (June, 1942, p. 113, and January-February, 1947, p. 17, photo credited to Glenn Hiatt),
identified as Phalaenopsis Joan d'Arc × Gilles Gratiot — a misspelling of the parentage of the real La Cañada, Jeanne d'Arc ×
Gilles Gratiot. Does anyone still have this plant? Is there a modern photograph? Please contact us if you have any additional information!
Eversole and Hiatt joined the new Southern California chapter of the Orchid Society of California about 1940, which soon was incorporated as the Orchid Society
of Southern California. Eversole participated in the monthly meetings as well as the local flower shows. He was a member of what may have been the first committee
to establish awards criteria for OSSC. Hiatt's expertise was recognized, too, as he served as President of OSSC in 1942 and 1943, then in other roles for several
years. He was also an Orchid Digest judge, chairman of various flower shows, and a frequent lecturer on horticultural and natural history topics. As late as 1944,
Hiatt was still living at "The Boulders". He was in charge of the first Southland Orchid Show, held in 1959 at the Arboretum. (One of the tropies at that show
was sponsored by SCOS: the South Coast Orchid Society Trophy for the best Brassavola hybrid went to Bernie Woods for Lc. Grandee × Blc.
What we know of Dr. Eversole's experiments and the activities of the Orchid Research Company comes mainly from two sources: First, Dr. Eversole was an
enthusiastic letter-writer. He corresponded with the editors of the AOS Bulletin, Orchid Digest, and with Dr. Edward A. White of Cornell University,
author of American Orchid Culture, which went through several editions before the author's death in 1943 (it is now apparently in the public domain),
providing personal accounts of his latest observations, accompanied by photographs. Second, Hiatt wrote articles (or sometimes allowed his lectures to be
transcribed and published), also with photographs, in Orchid Digest and elsewhere.
A detailed account of Eversole and Hiatt's progress was published in the Pasadena Post October 27, 1940, a report of a lecture given by Mr. Hiatt for the
Plant Culture League, meeting at the public library in Pasadena. The article mentions that Mr. Hiatt had been Dr. Eversole's assistant since 1935, and that Eversole
had been experimenting with orchids at his La Cañada estate for nearly 10 years, "in an effort to uncover secrets of plant nutrition that may be useful
eventually in the study of human chemistry." Hiatt explained the temperature and humidity requirements, the composition of the nutrient solutions, the composition
and size of the gravel, the washing and feeding schedules, and the evolution of their methods from redwood flats to kitchen sinks to concrete vats. "Persons
interested in these experiments are welcomed at the Eversole garden, 1856 Foothill Boulevard, Mr. Hiatt said. But it is advisable to telephone for appointments
before coming." At the time, Phalaenopsis seedlings in the experimental greenhouses were in full bloom, 10-11 flowers per spike (they had pinched the spikes
at that point in order to improve the quality of the flowers), less than two years out of the flask. It was typical of this team to share everything they had
learned with the public, right down to exact recipes for the nutrient solutions.
Dr. Eversole responded to inquiries by Dr. Edward White of Cornell University, author of American Orchid Culture, a very detailed account of developments
in the American orchid industry that went through several editions. In the second edition (1939), White quoted recent correspondence from Dr. Eversole, accompanied
by several photographs. The same material was included unchanged in the third edition (1942). (Dr. White died in 1943, shortly after the publication of the third
edition. While there were later printings, the copyright does not seem to have been renewed, as was required at the time, so we believe American Orchid
Culture is now in the public domain, along with its photographs and quotations from many important figures in the development of the modern orchid industry.)
From Dr. Eversole's correspondence with Dr. White in 1938, then, we know that Eversole and Hiatt had already raised at least two hybrids, a remake of Venustus
(Elisabethae × Gilles Gratiot, registered in 1933 by Vacherot et Lecoufle) and a new hybrid that would eventually be registered as Halo (Confirmation × Gilles
Gratiot). The seedlings of the Venustus remake came out of the flask in March, 1936, and were in full bloom in March, 1938. Eversole advised that the selection of
the nutrient solution, out of several similar recipes, probably made little difference; the more important criteria for success were "observation and a knowledge
from experience when and how to adjust the solution for plants of different age, size, and what we desire them to do for us". He regarded his basic observations
on nutrition and culture as firmly established. More in the realm of hypothesis, he felt best blooming was obtained with increased light intensity and additional
phosphorus and potassium. For the best seed pods, additional trace elements seemed to be beneficial as well. At least as late as 1940, all of the
experiments were done in Eversole's two "automatically controlled air conditioned" greenhouses, 17 × 27 feet and 19 × 32 feet. There is no mention of
off-site facilities; all the experiments up to at least 1941 seem to have been conducted at "The Boulders".
Something of the acumen and insights of these men can be appreciated in Hiatt's account of a problem they encountered about 1940-41 (Glenn H. Hiatt, Recent
developments in the culture of Phalaenopsis in gravel, Orchid Digest 5(3):35-38, March, 1941). At the time, their culture
method for mature Phalaenopsis used concrete tubs, gravel, and a system of periodic irrigation with a nutrient solution that was recycled by means of a
storage tank, pipes, and pumps. At some point, they realized that the plants were not performing as well as they should, and began searching for the cause. The
symptoms suggested that the concentration of the trace metals, such as copper, might be too high. After careful review and analysis, they began to suspect that
trace amounts of these metals might have leached from the metal tank and fittings in their nutrient recirculation system. It was also possible that there were
other causes, however, such as trace amounts leaching from the concrete, the gravel, or some other source. They set up experiments to isolate the cause. One
test replaced all the metal components with a ceramic tank and rubber hoses. All the tests were carried out from the same batch of nutrient solution, and, after
a suitable period of recycling the solutions in each test apparatus, samples of the solutions were collected and sent to Berkeley, where they were analyzed by Drs.
Hoagland and Arnon, to see how they had changed during the experiment. As they had surmised, leaching of metals from their original metal equipment had indeed
altered the concentration of copper and other metals to a toxic level. With further analysis, they hit on the strategy of omitting certain trace elements from
their nutrient solution, relying on normal leaching from their equipment to supply what the plants needed. Few people would probably have been able to spot the
subtle decline of the plants in the first place, let alone work out the cause and prove it experimentally. Fewer still would have taken the trouble to tell the
story so that other growers could benefit from their experience!
The first record we have found of the Orchid Research Company hybrids being sold to the public was in 1948, when a selection of these hybrids were offered, by
name, by Nelson W. Curson, an orchid grower in Oakland, CA, who was also using these hybrids in his own breeding program (one result was Phal. Chieftain =
Doris × La Cañada, registered by Curson in 1949). By 1950, Orchid Research Co. was advertising in Orchid Digest.
A few of the hybrids received awards, although no photographs seem to have survived from judging. There are a few black and white photos in the AOS Bulletin
and Orchid Digest, but at least one of them is apparently mislabeled. The lasting importance of these hybrids, however, is demonstrated in the statistics:
of the roughly 37,000 registered Phalaenopsis hybrids, around 29,000 have one of the Orchid Research Company hybrids somewhere in their ancestry, and from
those 29,000, there are several thousand AOS awards, involving every major type of modern Phalaenopsis breeding: standard, novelty, harlequin, even
"bigfoot". The odds are good that even the no-name Phalaenopsis you found at Trader Joe's is a descendant of one or more of the Orchid Research Company
The full list of the Orchid Research Company's hybrids, after the corrections described above and below, is as follows:
Altadena, 1946, named after the location of Orchid Research Company (La Cañada × Psyché)Boulderi, 1946, named after Dr. Eversole's estate, "The Boulders" (Elisabethae × Venustus)Casablanca, 1946, probably named after the movie! (Gilles Gratiot × La Cañada)F.D.R., 1946, named after President Franklin D. Roosevelt (Bridal Veil × Elisabethae)Helenclare, 1946, named after Glenn Hiatt's wife (Frolic × La Cañada)La Cañada, 1946, named after the location of Dr. Eversole's estate (Gilles Gratiot × Jeanne d'Arc)Praha, 1946, named after the city of Prague (Katherine Siegwart × La Cañada)San Marino, 1946, named after the community near Pasadena (Gilles Gratiot × Katherine Siegwart)Winged Victory, 1946, likely an allusion to the end of World War II (Elisabethae × La Cañada)Altano, 1948 (Altadena × Innocence)Atlanta, 1950, named after the street where Orchid Research Company was located (Monique × Winged Victory)Cherub, 1950 (Bridal Veil × Piety)Constellation, 1950 (Monique × Venustus)Diane Clare, 1950, named after one of Glenn Hiatt's twin daughters (Helenclare × Winged Victory)Doctor Henry O. Eversole, 1950, honoring the founder of Orchid Research Company (Altadena × Winged Victory)Halo, 1950 (Confirmation × Gilles Gratiot)Linda Lee, 1950, named after the other of Glenn Hiatt's twin daughters (Venustus × Winged Victory)Maxine, 1950 (Elisabethae × Vergilles)Mount Wilson, 1950, towering over Altadena (Altadena × Venustus)Rotary Ann, 1950 (La Cañada × Vergilles)Seafoam, 1950 (Jeanne d'Arc × Souvenir d'Ernest Gratiot)Ethel du Pont, 1951, Mrs. William K. du Pont was an accomplished orchid hybridizer and collector, credited with several important Phalaenopsis
hybrids (Innocence × Winged Victory)Ronnie Wilson, 1956, originated by Orchid Research Co. and registered by J. J. Wilson, named in honor of his wife Ronnie Wilson, author of a
long-running column in the early years of Orchid Digest (Doctor Henry O. Eversole × Rêve Rose)
Dr. Henry O. Eversole Sr.'s Remarkable Life
From an appreciation published in a Cal Tech campus newsletter after his death in 1963: Dr. Henry Owen Eversole was born in Middleport, Ohio in 1877.
His early life was spent in Denver, Colorado until his enlistment in the Spanish-American war.
He continued his education in Los Angeles, graduating from the Medical Division of the University of California at Los Angeles in 1906. After two years of
post-graduate work in medicine at Johns Hopkins University and in the universitites of Berlin and Vienna he returned to Los Angeles to specialize in diseases
of the chest, pioneering in new medical techniques.
During World War I an abortive attempt was made by the Allied Armies to help the white Russians repulse the Bolshevik advance in Siberia and to aid the Czech
allies to hold the Trans-Siberian railroad. Dr. Eversole, as a Major in the American Red Cross carried out plans to evacuate cities, fight typhus, and free
prisoners from concentration camps.
He was medical officer in charge of the hospital ship that carried wounded Czech soldiers home to their newly created republic of Czechoslovakia.
When the Allied Armies withdrew from Siberia Major Eversole conducted hundreds of lost Russian children, who had been found and cared for by the Red Cross,
through the Panama Canal to Finland to arrange for their repatriation.
In 1920 Dr. Eversole was commissioned to develop a child health program in Czechoslovakia.
In 1922 he was made medical advisor of a mission to the famine districts of Western Russia.
In 1923 Dr. Eversole was appointed Director of the European office of the division of Medical Education of the Rockefeller Foundation with special emphasis on the
problems of European universities disastrously affected by the war.
In 1930 Dr. Eversole returned to Southern California and engaged in intensive research on the environmental factors in plant culture. This resulted in his
inventing and developing the first air-conditioned greenhouses. His work revolutionized the techniques of growing and hybridizing orchids as he used the phalaenopsis
orchids in making his exacting studies in plant control and in the effect of climate on maturing plants.
Dr. Eversole worked closely with the Division of Biology at Cal Tech. The great Earhart Plant Research Laboratory there is the result of this collaboration. He
is thus indirectly responsible for the development of an entirely new concept of plant research across the world as a whole.
He terminated his appointment as active practicing Research Associate at Cal Tech when he moved to Santa Barbara in 1955.
Phalaenopsis Lynn Dewey
The last hybrid that the RHS orchid hybrid database attributes to Orchid Research Company is Phal. Lynn Dewey, originated by Lynn M. Dewey of Merritt
Island, Florida but registered in 1969 by "Orchid Research Company". As with La Cañada, we thought there must be something wrong with the registration data,
because Orchid Research Company of Altadena, CA went out of business about 1957. We corresponded again with Julian Shaw, Registrar of orchid hybrids for the RHS,
and then sought more information about Lynn M. Dewey. We checked the "New Orchid Hybrids" section of Orchid Review (1969), where we found the hybrid, the
registrant listed as "Orchid Research Committee". But could this have been an error for Orchid Research Company? Or something else entirely?
We found Lynn M. Dewey (1896-1977), a resident of Merritt Island, Brevard County, Florida, first as a beekeeper, hibiscus breeder, and volunteer fireman, and
then as President of the Brevard County Orchid Society (1962-1964) and proprietor of a nursery that operated under various names, including Elysian Garden. Mr.
Dewey and his fellow orchid growers who lived on Merritt Island (which is actually a peninsula) organized an annual spring orchid show at a local bank in Cocoa,
across the estuary from Merritt Island, probably first in 1962, and from 1974 until 1980, on Merritt Island at the local Chevrolet dealership. But in fact, the
group most directly involved in the spring show was something called the Orchid Research Committee! Press coverage in the area, usually on the occasion of
some local orchid show, described the Orchid Research Committee as a "loosely-knit 20-member group which studies the care and handling of the plants." Show publicity
for the 1971 show says "Lynn Dewey organized the group and acts as its instructor." By 1978, they are called "Brevard Orchid Society Research Committee". Along the
way, someone turned "Orchid" into an acronym, "O.R.C.H.I.D", explained as "Orchid Research Committe for Horticulture Improvement and Development", and further
morphed the name into the "ORCHID Study Group". It was always a bit ambiguous whether the committee or group was officially part of the Brevard County Orchid
Evidently, somewhere in the early days of the group, Lynn Dewey must have set the Orchid Research Committee on an educational exercise, following a new hybrid
from pod to flask, flask to community pot, and on to flowering and, finally, registration, so that Phal. Lynn Dewey came to be registered by the Orchid Research
Committee, incorrectly listed in the RHS orchid hybrid records as Orchid Research Co. Now that it is clear what happened, Mr. Shaw has agreed to correct the database
somehow, so that Phal. Lynn Dewey is attributed to Orchid Research Committee, and not to Orchid Research Company.
Orchid Research Company is thus left with 23 Phalaenopsis hybrids, 22 of them registered between 1946 and 1951, plus one that they originated, registered
in 1956 by J. J. Wilson and named after his wife Ronnie Wilson, who wrote a column in Orchid Digest in those days.
We gratefully acknowledge the assistance of Susan Eubank, Los Angeles State and County Arboretum librarian; Julian Shaw, Registrar of orchid hybrids for the Royal
Horticultural Society; Tim Gregory, "Building Biographer"; Eric Mulfinger, Altadena Historical Society; and Julie Yamashita, archivist at the Lanterman Historical
Museum Foundation, Lanterman House, La Cañada-Flintridge for their generous assistance in ferreting out the well-hidden story of Dr. Eversole and the Orchid
The Odontoglossum Story Continues
Our members have heard a lot about Odontoglossum over the years, especially the repeated name changes! Decades ago, many species were split out into
new genera such as Rynchostele, Otoglossum, etc. It took some time to get used to the new names, but we adapted, even if some of us remember when
they all used to be Odonts! More recently, mainly as a result of DNA sequence data, but also as a result of changing views about orchid biology and taxonomy,
the whole Oncidium tribe was reworked with a view toward better reflecting evolutionary (genetic) relationships. One result was that a number of genera,
including Odontoglossum, Cochlioda, and others, were lumped into a greatly enlarged genus
Oncidium1 — Presto! No more Odonts!
This proposal was accepted by the Orchid Committee of the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS)2. While in some
ways this change simplifies the problem of what
to call our plants (they're all Oncidiums now!), in other ways it presents a huge complication, in sorting out the correct names of hybrids, especially those with
identical names that used to be in separate genera. Additionally, it takes time for this abrupt change to reach everyone in the orchid community, and then to be
understood, and eventually to be implemented with new plant labels, new nursery catalogues, etc. It takes years for the dust to settle after such a taxonomic
upheaval, far longer than orchid nomenclature insiders probably imagine.
The next upheaval has arrived! It takes the form of a fat volume entitled The Odontoglossum Story, by Stig Dalström, Wesley E. Higgins, and Guido
Deburghgraeve (Oberreiffenberg, Germany: Koeltz Botanical Books, 2020, 783 pp. — we will refer to it here as "Dalström et al."), with
contributions by other authors. While the bulk of the volume — nearly 700 pages! — is devoted to detailed descriptions of the species and varieties
recognized by these authors, extensively illustrated, an important feature is a brief discussion (pp. 13-19) of why Odontoglossum should be restored as a
separate genus. A single unnumbered page has also been tipped in, showing a key to the six proposed sections of the resurrected and reorganized genus. Some big
questions about the proposed taxonomy remain unanswered, see below.
What are the arguments raised by Dalström et al. for the resurrection of Odontoglossum? We think it is important for our readers to be aware
of what they said and what they did not say.
1. The published DNA data are accepted.
Dalström et al. accept the relationships presented in the cluster diagrams from the DNA sequence data compiled by Neubig et al.
in fact, they include one of those figures! Over the past few years, we have heard many growers question the technology and the reliability of DNA sequence data
for purposes of taxonomy — objections that were probably appropriate when genetic data were first used in this way about 50 years ago, based on extremely small
and possibly non-representative sets of DNA sequences. The technology and the knowledge behind it have come a long way since then! The authors do not raise
2. The proposed "new" Odontoglossum genus is already recognized as "monophyletic".
Dalström et al. rely on a statement by Neubig et al. (2012)4, that the DNA data have
produced a putative phylogenetic tree in which the bulk
of the former Odonts form a single, apparently "monophyletic" branch, which Dalström et al. propose as the newly-reorganized genus
Odontoglossum. See Neubig et al. (2012), p. 136: "Although many of the traditionally recognized segregate genera are monophyletic in our trees
(e.g. Sigmatostalix, one clade of Odontoglossum), they are embedded within a larger clade of Oncidium species with diverse floral morphologies
and pollination systems. Recognition of these segregate genera would require creation of many new genera to maintain monophyly, and these new genera would be
difficult to diagnose using floral or vegetative traits." This statement, buried in a long discussion of the characteristics and relationships in the newly
enlarged Oncidium, is the starting point for the proposal of Dalström et al.
What does "monophyletic" (adjective; the noun is monophyly or perhaps monophylety) mean? The concept is intended to convey that every member of a taxonomic unit,
such as a genus or a section of a genus, is supposed to be a descendant of a common ancestor somewhere in the distant evolutionary past, and further, that all the
apparent descendants of that inferred common ancestor are included within the same taxonomic unit.
It's the last part of this concept that gets us into trouble: If the concept is applied strictly, it becomes inadmissible to split out one group as a separate
genus, without also splitting out other groups (if more than one such group remains) that, on the phylogenetic tree, appear to be of equivalent evolutionary age.
So, according to one view of the desirable criteria for determining the boundaries of a genus, if there are multiple branches of the same evolutionary age remaining
in the genus Oncidium after the big Odontoglossum branch is removed, those branches must also be split out as separate genera, even if nobody except
the taxonomist is happy with that result.
In effect, it's a sort of argument about "equity" or "fairness". But SCOS members are surely wise and experienced enough to known that life itself is rarely
either equitable or fair. Why should an arbitrary category such as genus be constrained in this way? Perhaps it would make sense, if splitting a large genus
yields a taxonomy that helps both science and horticulture deal with real plants in daily life, but probably not if the result offers little more than different
names for plants that look, live, and behave alike. In fact, that caveat is expressed at the end of the quoted passage from Neubig et al.: "these new
genera would be difficult to diagnose using floral or vegetative traits". In other words, Neubig's team did not consider it reasonable to propose taxonomic
schemes that could not be supported by criteria based on observable characteristics of each plant. Genera that could only be separated by DNA sequence data, for
example, are not thought to be desirable by almost any botanist.
But the question of practicality raised in this passage by Neubig et al. and some of the other publications that preceded
it (see our footnotes, below) — the difficulties that would be created by the necessity (according to
the current views about monophyly) of splitting up what would then remain of Oncidium — are in effect someone else's problem; Dalström et al.
simply assert that, from the available evidence as they interpret it, the clade mentioned by Neubig et al. deserves to be recognized as a newly
reorganized genus Odontoglossum, now more securely defined than ever because of the availability of the genetic data!
3. What do Dalström et al. include in Odontoglossum?
In effect, they have simply snipped out the large clade in the diagrams of Neubig et al. and moved all of the attached species into Odontoglossum.
While most of the affected species have long been considered Odonts, some additional species have ended up in the same big branch. Among these are the old genus
Cochlioda, which Neubig et al. had only recently placed in the newly enlarged Oncidium, and a number of others.
Then, they proceed to divide up their new Odontoglossum into six sections (with the help of the key found on the tipped-in page mentioned above):
Coloratum, Parviflorum, Lobulatum, Caniculatum, and Articulatum, plus a section Oncidioides for a group of species not traditionally considered Odonts, but which
together form a distinct side branch within the Odontoglossum clade in the figures of Neubig et al.
They do not disturb the older classifications that by about 1990 had split out Lemboglossum, Rossioglossum, Cuitlauzina,
Osmoglossum, Otoglossum, Mesoglossum, and Ticoglossum, leaving a core of "true" Odontoglossum from South America (however, not
all of these splits were accepted at that time for purposes of hybrid registration). Those species for the most part remain where they were, with a few exceptions
that turn out to cluster with the one or another of the reorganized genera. These were presumably misclassified in the first place.
4. How reliable is the cluster diagram?
Dalström et al. have accepted the clusters shown in the figures of Neubig et al., and even published a "rigorous artistic version" of the
basic structure of the cluster "tree". There are many methods for generating cluster diagrams or "trees", and not all of them will produce precisely the same
result. This is particularly true when the branch points at the base of the "tree" are close together: it often turns out that the exact order of branching
depends on the inclusion of just one data element or just one sample. There are methods for assessing the extent of this problem and arriving at a "consensus"
cluster diagram, but experienced investigators know not to put too much weight on the exact order of branching, especially at the base of the "tree". Not everyone
will agree with the "rigorous artistic version", but the purpose of this figure is to illustrate the problem of deciding where to "prune" the "tree" to yield a
workable division between a reorganized Odontoglossum and the remainder of the recently enlarged Oncidium. The way they chose to do this seems
reasonable and practical, by not including the next-most-closely clustering genus, Sigmatostalix, which forms a very distinct cluster of its own.
In short, the clustering presented by Neubig et al. seems clear and sound enough to serve as a basis for a split, even if there might be questions about
the exact placement of some species within the main branch.
5. Are we done yet?
Probably not! Proposals of this sort need to be considered from many angles. It is important to allow enough time for thoughtful people in many fields to
work out the implications of a new taxonomy and to follow up with field work and basic research. It could easily take another five years for studies now in
progress to reach publication. We see no reason to rush the process. However, it is clear that the complete abolition of Odontoglossum for purposes
of orchid hybrid registration has not been accepted with joy and celebration, and that there exists a level of disappointment with a taxonomic process that seems
to make monophyletic purity an end in itself.
Monophyly is not the only specter feared by orchid hobbyists, but it is a big one! Another is the tendency of some taxonomists to mine the literature for
poorly described species names and then to apply them to well-known species, without advancing proof or sometimes even an explicit assertion that the older
description really does apply to the same plant. We are also plagued by splitters who will never be satisfied until every recognizable species has a genus of
its own, followed inevitably by a plague of lumpers. In the long run, taxonomy requires long and careful study of natural populations as well as a thorough
knowledge of the botanical literature. In our experience, orchid growers (e.g., those we meet at orchid seminars) frequently view taxonomists not as benevolent
ambassadors of order, but rather as purveyors of chaos.
Orchid history strongly suggests that, no, we are not done yet! Odontoglossum will likely rise again, and the whole impossible circus of naming
species, genera, and intergeneric hybrids will continue, as each new generation of taxonomists is compelled to publish something (and that always implies
changing something) in order to justify their existence. We hope they will get out into the field, undertake genetic and developmental studies, and
explore every aspect of orchid biology, before they start tinkering with the names of things.
1The great majority of the suggested changes were published "in" Orchids 77 (2008), but in a way that
few people will be able to find. The article is formally designated as pages 20-31 of Lindleyana 21, no. 3, but Lindleyana ceased publication as
a separate journal in 2002. Internet sources cite the article as Orchids 77:20-31 or else as Lindleyana (no volume number) December 2008, 20-31. The
physical "publication" of this "issue" of Lindleyana consists of a section of 20 pages in Orchids 77(12) (2008) falling between pages 918 and 939.
Page 918 of Orchids 77(12) is followed by page 19 of Lindleyana 21(3), and, at the end of this section, page 38 of Lindleyana 21(3) is
followed by page 939 of Orchids 77(12). In effect, we can regard this as a numbering error: the pages in question, numbered 19-38, should have been
numbered 919-938! There are two separate items to be cited here. We hope we have cited them in such a way that the reader will be
able to locate them! The entire December, 2008 issue of Orchids, including the buried section of Lindleyana, is available in digitized format
on the AOS web site.
McHatton, Ron (2008). Orchid Nomenclature. Orchids 77(12), between pages 918 and 939, in the section entitled Lindleyana 21(3),
paginated separately, p. 19.
McHatton mentions decisions made by the "International Orchid Committee", meeting at the 19th World Orchid Conference in 2008, and states that after
the publication of volume 5 of Genera Orchidacearum, expected in the spring of 2009, the "long-awaited treatment for the Oncidiinae" would be implemented
in the "hybrid registration database". What is the "International Orchid Committee"? We think it may be the Advisory Sub-Committee on Orchid Hybrid
Registration (referred to either as ASCOHR or ACOHR), a body intended to report to the Advisory Committee on Nomenclature and Taxonomy, intended in turn to advise
the Royal Horticultural Society (which was appointed as the International Cultivar Registration Authority for orchids by the International Society for
Horticultural Science). How this structure relates to the RHS "Orchid Committee" does not seem to have been stated. A "Newsletter" of
this sub-committee has been published occasionally since March, 2010 (but labeled as June, 2010) as part of the Quarterly Supplement to the International Register
of Orchid Hybrids, in turn issued as part of Orchid Review.Chase, Mark W., Williams, Norris H., Neubig, Kurt M., and Whitten, W. Mark (2008). Taxonomic transfers in Oncidiinae to accord with Genera
Orchiacearum, vol. 5. Orchids 77(12), between pages 918 and 939, in the section entitled Lindleyana 21(3), paginated separately, pp. 20-31.
Among other matters, this paper lists the individual species affected by the proposed changes.
A further article, this time explaining the proposed changes in a more general way, was published the next year in Orchids, again while volume 5 of
Genera Orchiadearum was still in press:
Chase, Mark W., Williams, Norris H., and Whitten, W. Mark (2009). Oncidiinae nomenclature: Generic changes in Genera Orchidacearum, volume
5. Orchids 78(4):228-238.
2The first announcement we found relating to the implementation of the proposed changes for hybrid
registration is in the March, 2010 Quarterly Supplement to the International Register of Orchid Hybrids, in the form of a "Newsletter" of the Advisory
Sub-Committee on Orchid Hybrid Registration (ASCOHR), "No. 1, June, 2010" (but the date is evidently in error, it should logically be March, 2010, matching
the date of the Quarterly Supplement in which it appears), indicating that, following the publication of volume 5 of Genera Orchidacearum in the autumn
of 2009, the proposed changes would be discussed at the May, 2010 committee meeting, and a decision would be made about how to implement those changes in the
Register of Orchid Hybrids. A brief list of the affected genera was presented. In the following Quarterly Supplement, in June, 2010, the Registrar's Notes
report the further developments: "The RHS Advisory Sub-Committee on Orchid Hybrid Registration (ASCOHR) met on the 26 May to discuss the implication for the
Orchid Hybrid Register of name changes made in Genera Orchidacearum volume 5 (GO5). The main adjustments concern generic boundaries in the
Oncidiinae." It was agreed unanimously that all the recommended changes except for those concerning Odontoglossum and Gomesa
should be implemented. For those two genera, more "opinion" would be invited at the December, 2010 meeting of the committee. The next news was the August,
2011 newsletter (No. 2) of ASCOHR, which was published at the end of the June, 2011 Quarterly Supplement: The committee had met on 25th May  and
continued its discussion of the proposed changes. After soliciting opinions from others, such as the RHS Advisory Committee on Nomenclature and Taxonomy,
and "other orchid scientists", there was a discussion and a vote "not attended by GO authors/editors", confirming that the changes would be implemented.
"This recommendation will undoubtedly be unpopular with a number of people, especially those who will miss Odontoglossum crispum and its hybrids".
Promises were made to make the Register (especially its online presence) searchable by synonym, so that the old names could be easily retrieved. In effect,
the changes would be implemented in such a way that they could be undone "if researchers produce compelling evidence to support an alternative view in the
future and this is accepted". The changes were thus proposed to be implemented "over the next few months". There was also a statement from the Registrar,
Julian Shaw, who acknowledged the difficulties created by the proposal — he had received "e-mails that range from the sympathetic to the
unprintable" — and indicated that the changes [to existing registrations] affecting Odontoglossum had been postponed, apparently until all the
necessary features in the online version of the Register were in place. However, new registrations, starting with the April-June, 2011 Quarterly Supplement,
used the new names, with the abbreviated old generic and intergeneric names in [brackets]. From that point forward, the changes in the Register seem to have
proceeded smoothly, although there have been a number of name changes at the species level, due to collisions of the new names with old, long-buried synonyms.
3 Neubig, Kurt M., Whitten, William Mark, Williams, H. Norris, Blanco, Mario A., Endara, Lorena, Burleigh,
John Gordon, Silvera, Katia, Cushman, John C., and Chase, Mark W. (2012). Generic recircumscriptions of Oncidiinae (Orchidaceae: Cymbidieae) based on maximum
likelihood analysis of combined DNA datasets, Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society 168:117-146.
4 The reference to Neubig et al. (2012) (see footnote 3, above) is in fact a sort of continuation of
several other articles published as early as 2008 or perhaps even earlier (see especially footnote 1, above), all apparently presenting aspects of a larger work
to appear in Genera Orchidacearum, volume 5. The grand volume was in fact published in 2009, including the study of the Oncidiinae (Mark W. Chase (2009),
Subtribe Oncidiinae. In: Pridgeon, A. M., Chase, M. W., Cribb, P. J., and Rasmussen, F. N., editors, Genera Orchidacearum, vol. 5, Epidendroideae
(part two) (Oxford: Oxford University Press), pp. 211-394). However, almost no one has seen it, because the volume retails for well over $200. Used copies
have been offered for over $700. The various subsidiary publications, mostly with Mark Chase as lead author, gave partial results and some discussion about the
proposed taxonomic changes, but they do not form an entirely coherent story. The 2012 publication is the only one we have seen so far that includes the cluster
trees. While there is a place for magnificent volumes, we think it may be unwise to use them for the publication of data and discussion that need to be studied,
reviewed, replicated, and considered by other scientists.
Photo Finish: Rescued Awards Photos and a Message to the Future
July, 2021. We shared these pictures with Laura Newton, AOS Awards Registrar, who jumped right in to swap the old images for the "new", recovered ones, and correct
odd errors. Laura wants to make sure the awards database is as correct and complete as possible. Also, we are on the hunt for additional award slides that
should be added to the database.
Recently we received a collection of color slides from the family of Leo and Terry Bance, long-time SCOS members who were active in our club for well over
20 years. Active isn't a strong enough word, really! They always jumped in to help set up exhibits for shows (once quite literally, when Terry tripped
over the unassembled pieces of an especially large exhibit and was taken to the emergency room to repair the damage — after she was bandaged up, she insisted
on coming back to the show venue to help finish the exhibit), both for SCOS and for the local Fuchsia society. They had also been active in the AOS judging program,
serving as secretaries for the judging team for many years. While most of the slides seem to be of their own plants, there are eight that are official award photos
from the judging center. We found a simple slide scanner and decided to compare these slides with the photos in the official AOS awards database (currently known
as "OrchidPro", on the AOS web site).
Update, August, 2021: Leo Bance served as newsletter editor in 1968. Here is how he introduced himself in the February, 1968 newsletter: "EDITOR
ah!! I should have headed these pages 'Under New Management' but I think it will be self evident before long. It's going to be difficult to maintain the high
standard of my predecessors. Maybe a brief Autobiography is in order. I am a 'Limey' country boy who came seeking the proverbial 'Pot of Gold', someone got there
first, couldn't even find the pot. Making a living working for a Dairy and a milkman is more slippery than an Ice Man and his ice. A graduate of nothing and
nowhere so no Diplomas. Leader of the opposition at our Board Meetings for the past 6 years. Bluffed my way thru the Leadership of the Novice Class for the same
length of time. Started out trying to grow Fuchsia's, killed them faster than I could buy them. Tried my hand at Begonias, same results. Then someone said the
Orchids were much harder to kill. So for about 8 years I have been trying to prove them wrong. Can only hope that now I have proved I don't have a "green thumb"
I can improve my record with a 'black one'. So if my choice of words and phraseology is sometimes way out plant put it down to my 'Henglish' background. I'll
master this 'Furrin' Language one of these days."
All but one of these slides are stamped PAC. SOU.
REG. SUP. LONG
BEACH, with the date (inclusive years 1977-1985), exhibitor's name,
identification of the plant (including parentage), and the award score. The one exception (1968, the first year of AOS judging in Long Beach) gives all the
necessary information but lacks the stamp.
Right away, we discovered that many of the "official" AOS photos were of far lower quality than our slides. The "official" versions are often extremely grainy
and badly faded, for plants awarded before about 1990. Presumably, the better quality of the later pictures reflects the adoption of digital photography!
We also discovered that our photo from 1968 was from an award published in our newsletter, but we had trouble finding it in the AOS database. The exhibitor was
Fred A. Stewart, the plant is now called Cattleya Issy 'Niger' HCC/AOS. We doubted that Fred Stewart would ever pass up an AOS award, and eventually
we found it, with the award date listed as January 1, 1965, unknown exhibitor, unknown judging center, but the "award number" is 19680448. OrchidWiz has the correct
information about the award, June 24, 1968, Long Beach, with the complete description.
Another slide shows the stunning green(-ish) hybrid Rlc. Ports of Paradise 'Green Meadows', the award given to Robert Latimer, of Costa Mesa, well known
in our area. The slide is clearly stamped from the Long Beach judging center, but the AOS database showed that this award (with the same photo, but with most of the
color faded away) was conferred at the Hilo, Hawaii judging center. There was also a discrepancy between the "award number" (19810238 — "award numbers" begin with the year) and the "award date" shown in the database, January 8, 1983. The date on the slide is January 22, 1981, a Thursday rather than the expected fourth Monday, but in those days the January meeting was replaced by the annual banquet, probably at the Petroleum Club, a gala event where there was neither time nor space for judging. In the AOS Bulletin for January, 1981, we found part of the answer: Judging for January was to be held, and for this month only, at Brecht's Orchid Garden, 1989 Harbor Boulevard, Costa Mesa, CA, explaining the date — and thus providing an even more convenient location for Bob Latimer to show his plant! As for the discrepancies in the AOS database, the 1983 entry was apparently just an inexplicable data entry error. Award Quarterly 14(3):109 shows there was one award at Hilo on January 8, 1983, and it is found with award number 19830145 in OrchidPro, as it should be. With the assistance of Laura Newton, the 1981 award for Ports of Paradise has been corrected, and our "improved" version of the award photo has been added. While we were searching for the answer to this little puzzle, we contacted Bob Latimer — he recalls that the evening included not only judging, but a Hawaiian banquet! Was this occasion the annual SCOS banquet? Or perhaps a separate banquet mainly for the judging team? We're still searching for more information about SCOS activities in the 1980's.
In any case, we are pleased to show off these award photos in their true colors! We will share the scans with AOS and will work to clarify the circumstances of
Where are the award photos of the past?
In our explorations of orchid history, we have often been thwarted by the lack of accessible photos of earlier hybrids. We aren't willing to call them "old"
hybrids, because we remember some of them when they were new! But many of the awards from before about 1970 in the AOS database lack photos, and in many cases
they also lack information about the location and the exhibitor. The farther back we go, the worse this problem becomes. Some of the gaps can be filled in from the
orchid award paintings by artists such as Nellie Roberts for the Royal Horticultural Society. But we think more can be done to document our orchid history in a
way that is easy to access. For one thing, details from the Long Beach judging center 1968-1973 are accessible in the old newsletters that we have recovered!
As a start, we can troll through the published awards — even in our own newsletters — to identify the exhibitors and other information that should
be added to the AOS awards database. Errors are inevitable, but we think it is worth the trouble to correct as many of them as possible.
However, we doubt that good color photos can be found for most of the old awards. In addition, there are many hybrids that were important in the breeding
of today's most successful orchids, but which were never awarded and possibly never photographed. The reader can get a sense of this problem by scrolling
through the vast pedigree of Phal. Jiuhbao Sweetie that we presented last month: of the 199 ancestral hybrids, most of them very popular and used in many
hybrids of the time, we were able to locate usable photographs of only a couple dozen.
In spite of the lack of contemporary award photos, we think a large number of both the awarded hybrids and the unawarded hybrids that have proved useful in
breeding still exist in cultivation, and they show up from time to time at shows, sales, and orchid club meetings. Orchid societies and the AOS itself should
take advantage of these opportunities to recognize and document seldom seen hybrids. One way to proceed would be to create an "Award of Historical Merit" program,
as a way to capture good photographs for the AOS database and to recognize the importance of these plants in the development of today's hybrids.
This would not be an award based on "points" in the usual sense, but rather on an appreciation of the historical significance of the plant. One measure could
be the number of registered progeny. Another might be that the plant represents a hybrid that has been awarded but for which no good photograph is known. Or, a
plant might be singled out as a significant step in the development of a particular kind of hybrid, such as "yellow cattleyas", that somehow was never recognized
by an award. The existence of such an award program might also encourage judging centers to add more historical context to their activities. Ultimately, however,
the goal we're aiming for is to make sure as many hybrids that have left a mark in the form of awards or registered progeny are represented by good, accessible
We imagine this new category of "Historical Merit" as distinct from existing awards "Certificate of Cultural Merit" and "Judge's Commendation". We see these
existing categories as reserved for exceptional specimens in the present, not based on their status as "old" and poorly documented hybrids. We think the history of
orchid breeding is important for the understanding and appreciation of orchid flowers generally, and in addition, a consideration of history is likely to inform
the activities of today's orchid breeders.