Monday, May 23, 2016

Oncostele Romance 'Oro Rojo'

Oncostel Romance 'Oro Rojo'
Oncostele Wildcat was parent to Oncostele Catatante, and Oncostele Catatante is the parent to this brightly colored orchid. Oncostele Romance is a 2010 cross between Oncostele Catatante and Oncidium Petite Shine.

There's a couple different cultivars of this hybrid out in the internet.  The 'Oro Rojo' I photographed has scarlet petals and a golden lip.  Meanwhile, Oncostele Romance 'Peachy' has the same orange tones as its parent Oncostele Catatante.

Oncostele Romance 'Oro Rojo'

I could not complete a genealogy for the orchid.  This hybrid's parentage has something like 200 parent plants, and the software I use to draw my genealogy trees cannot handle files of this size.  The complexity of the orchid's lineage comes from the utter mess of orchid breeding that went on in the first half of the 20th century. During this time, a relatively small number of primary hybrids were being bred among each other in every combination possible to produce a plethora of very closely related orchid crosses.  But if you follow the genealogy trees, all of these hybrids reach back to the same handful of parent species.

The result is: Oncidium Petite Shine has over a hundred progenitors.  However, it only adds 1 new oncidium species to the parentage of Oncostele Romance, that were not already represented in its other parent, Oncostele Catatante: Oncidium noezlianum.

Oncostele Romance progenitors
Photo credits:

These are the 12 species that went into making Oncostele Romance:
Oncidium noezlianum, Oncidium nobile, Oncidium alexandre, Oncidium spectatissimum, Oncidium luteopurpureum, Oncidium halii, Oncidium harryanum, Oncidium leucochilum, Oncidium fuscatum, Oncidium cariniferum, Oncidium sphacelatum, Rhynchostele uroskinneri

Monday, May 16, 2016

Oncostele Catatante

Oncostele Catatante 'Pacific Sunspots'
This fiery oncidium intergenic is named Oncostele Catatante 'Pacific Sunspots.'  The hybrid is an old favorite at the New York Orchid Show--I photographed two different clones of this cross, Catatante 'Kilauea Karma' and Catatante 'Alice' in 2013. The flowers from this orchid are bountiful and bright, demanding attention.

Oncostele Catatante 'Kilauea Karma' (Photographed in 2013)

Oncostele Catatante 'Alice' (Photographed in 2013
Oncostele Catatante is a 2002 cross between Oncostele Wildcat and Oncidium Sphacetante. Both of the parent orchids were familiar to me. I wrote a post on the complicated lineage of Oncostele Wildcat earlier this year.  Meanwhile, Oncidium Sphacetante is an older hybrid that made up a significant contribution in the lineage of Oncidium Volcano Midnight.  I would say that all of these oncidium hybrids share many similarities.

Parentage of Oncostele Catatante (Oncidium Sphacetante X Oncostele Wildcat)
Photo credit: 
Oncostele Wildcat, Maria's Orchids: The Many Faces of Oncostele Wildcat

As I wrote in the post about it, Oncostele Wildcat comes in many different colors, depending on the clone.  This makes it hard to guess which one was used in making Oncostele Catatante.  Further, the differences between Catatante 'Alice' and the other two Catatante clones suggest that different Wildcat strains were used in the makings of each.

Here is the full lineage of Oncostele Catatante:
Lineage of Oncostele Catatante
I re-drew my lineage of Oncostele Wildcat to try and get the relationships between the parent plants to be more legible.  However, there is probably no amount of rearranging that can fully untangle this mess.  It seems that when people first figured out how to cross Oncidium orchids in the end of the 19th century, hobbyists were just breeding the crosses every which way, resulting in these incestuous loops.  A great deal of hybrids from the 1940s and earlier actually descend from a relatively small pool of parent species.

The lineage contains a total of 10 Oncidium species, and 1 Rhynchostele species. Here they are in full:

Species progenitors of Oncostele Catatante
Photo credits:
Oncidium fuscatum by Eduardo A. Pacheco (Flickr gallery)
Oncidium leucochilum by Arne and Bent Larsen Orchid collection
Oncidium hallii by Andreas Kay (Flickr gallery)
Oncidium harryanum by Diego Rodriguez (Flickr gallery)
Oncidium sphacelatum, by AntanO (Wikimedia commons)
Oncidium Cariniferum photo (C) Eric Hunt (see his orchid photo website, also, Flickr gallery)

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Orchid Science Update: Studying biodiversity of two Floridian orchid species

Encyclia tampensis
Photo Credit: (Wikimedia commons image) Andrea Westmoreland (Flickr gallery)

This reports comes out of the Million Orchid Project, an orchid reintroduction program in south Florida. The authors of the study completed a genetic characterization of two Floridian orchid species in order to help inform conservation efforts.

Encyclia tampensis, pictured above, is an epiphytic orchid native to south Florida, Cuba and the Bahamas, where it grows in cypress swamps and tropical hammocks.  Florida law regulates collection of wild-grown E. tampensis due to threat of commercial exploitation.

Cyrtopodium punctatum
Photo Credit: (Wikimedia commons image) Everglades National Park (Flickr gallery)
Cyrtopodium punctatum, or Cowhorn orchid, is another epiphytic orchid species from Florida. This orchid used to be widespread, but due to intense harvesting is now categorized as "Near Threatened".

Low genetic diversity can result when the numbers of a given species dwindle. This can hamper preservation efforts, as the species becomes more susceptible to diseases and the problems of inbreeding.  In order to asses the genetic diversity of E. tampensis and C. punctatum, this study collected genetic samples from orchids in the wild and from cultivation, and identified 10 microsattelite markers in each species that showed variation between individual orchids. 

Future conservation efforts and breeding programs will be able to use these microsattelite markers to make sure that they are maintaining a healthy genetic diversity in the species.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Oncidium Rosy Sunset 'F'

Oncidium Rosy Sunset 'F'
Oncidium Rosy Sunset blooms with an abundance of tiny pink flowers.  The flowers are very three-dimensional, making this orchid extra challenging to photograph.  It's also the last oncidium that I'll be writing about for a while--although I'll have plenty more oncostele, oncidopsis, oncostelopsis, brascidostele, and all sorts of other intergenic craziness.

Parentage of Oncidium Rosy Sunset
Photo credits:
Oncidium sotoanum by Jorge Daniel Cornu (Flickr gallery)
Sidenote: Jorge has some stunning orchid photography on his Flickr gallery that is really worth checking out.

Oncidium Rosy Sunset was registered in 1997. It is a cross between Oncidium Pupukea Sunset  and Oncidium sotoanum. The resulting hybrids have varying degrees pink and orange hues.  The clone 'F' which I photographed is on the pink end of the spectrum.  Meanwhile 'Pacific Sunset' has a truly lovely mix of pink and yellow shades that very much resemble a summer sunset. Another clone 'Rosebud' looks like a deeper pink version of 'F'.

Lineage of Oncidium Rosy Sunset
The full lineage of Oncidium Rosy Sunset is remarkably simple.  As shown above, it is a cross of 3 different oncidium species.  Once again, the ever promiscuous Oncidium fuscatum shows up in the lineage (I've also found this species in the background of Oncidium Ron's Rippling Delight, Oncidium Volcano Midnight, Oncidium Irish Mist, and Oncostele Wildcat. I fully expect to come across this species a few more times in the future as I do the lineages of various Oncidium intergenics.

Progenitors of Oncidium Rosy Sunset
Photo credits:
Oncidium fuscatum by Eduardo A. Pacheco (Flickr gallery)
Oncidium sotoanum by Jorge Daniel Cornu (Flickr gallery)

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Oncidium Midas 'Willow Pond'

Oncidium Midas 'Willow Pond'
This cheery yellow oncidium is actually one of the older hybrids I've yet written about.  Oncidium Midas was registered in 1940, as a cross between Oncidium Ascania and Oncidium Reve d'Or.  The clone 'Willow Pond' has earned the AM/AOS distinction.  This oncidium resembles the tolumnia orchids--the small, compact plant body produces an abundance of flowers.

Oncidium Midas genealogy
If any of this genealogy tree looks familiar, that is because Oncidium Reve d'Or is also a significant contributor to the genealogy of Oncostele Wildcat. These are old crosses, and neither Oncidium Ascania, nor Oncidium Reve d'Or are popularly grown anymore.  But perhaps what is more curious is that Oncidium Midas, a cross made 76 years ago, is still widely available.

Another interesting find in this history tree is my new record for the oldest Oncidium cross ever.  Take a look at Oncidium Excellens--it was registered in 1891!

Oncidium Excellens (hybrid from 1891)
Image credit: by F. Sander, 1892. (Wikimedia commons image)
Back to Oncidium Midas. There are 5 Oncidium species which went into the creation of this cross: luteopurpureum, nobile, alexandre, spectatissimum, and harryanum.  

Progenitors of Oncidium Midas

Photo credits: 

Oncidium harryanum by Diego Rodriguez (Flickr gallery)

Note: Oncidium alexandre is also commonly referred to as Oncidium crispum.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

April Orchid Science


Bee or Orchid? (Ophrys apifera)
Photo credit: © Copyright Andrew Curtis and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

Ophrys, or "bee orchids" have a clever reproduction strategy. These orchids look so similar to female insects, that males are fooled into mating with the flowers, thereby pollinating them. These flowers not only look strikingly similar to their insect pollinators; they also produce specialized scents, called allomones, which copy the pheromones emitted by an insect seeking mates.

The Ophrys genus is large, containing over 2000 species, subspecies and natural hybrids.  These orchids grow all over Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East, and related species can form many naturally occurring hybrids.

Scientists in this study looked at hybridization among three Ophrys species (Ophrys lutea, Ophrys fusca, Ophrys dyris). They recorded photographs of flowers and gathered DNA samples from Bee Orchids in various parts of Portugal. Afterwards, they performed genetic analysis to examine which orchids contained DNA from related species.
Three Ophrys orchid species featured in this study
Photo credits:
Ophrys dyris and Ophrys lutea by Luis Nunes Alberto (Wikimedia commons)
Ophrys fusca, by Orchi (Wikimedia commons) 
What they found was that O. dyris and O. fusca were so intermixed in the wild, that even with the help of all the genetic data, it was not always possible to identify which of the two species a given flower belonged to.  Finding a population of pure O. dyris orchids was rare.

Looking at the image of these two orchids (above), I can easily see why.  The flowers look incredibly similar, and if you told me that both images were the same species, I would not hesitate to believe it.

The authors also report extensive hybridization and introgression (backcrossing of hybrids with parent species) among O. fusca and O. lutea. However those two species are more distinct from one another than O. fusca and O. dyris.

Authors: Cotrim H, Monteiro F, Sousa E, Pinto MJ, Fay MF
Published In: American Journal of Botany , April 7, 2016
Marked hybridization and introgression in Ophrys sect. Pseudophrys in the western Iberian Peninsula.


Satyrium nepalense
Photo Credit: L. Shyamal (Wikimedia commons image
Satyrium nepalense, is a rare terrestrial orchid which grows at high altitudes in India and South-Central China. This orchid species is threatened due to habitat destruction and over-collection. Various parts of the orchid have been used since ancient times as a dietary supplement to treat various ailments. (However, modern medical research to validate these medicinal properties is lacking.)

This paper describes a protocol for large-scale propagation of Satyrium nepalense in a lab setting. The paper also describes a method for extracting phenol compounds from the roots and leaves of the orchid for biochemical analysis.

Authors: Babbar SB, Singh DK
Published In: Methods in molecular biology, April 24