Sunday, March 25, 2018

Tsubotaara Melinda Marie 'Blue Fairy'

Tsubotaara Melinda Marie 'Blue Fairy'
I came across this striking blue orchid at the 2018 New York Orchid Show.  The bloom was hidden behind a glass enclosure, labeled with a genus I had never seen before: Tsubotaara.  What kind of orchid could this be?  

According to the International Orchid Register, Tsubotaara Melinda Marie is a cross between Pabanisia Eva's Blue Amazon and Zygonisia Cynosure.  The hybrid was registered in 2010 by Kalapana Tropicals, a Hawaii-based orchid wholesaler.  A relatively miniature plant, this hybrid blooms with beautiful, oversized bluish flowers.
Tsubotaara Melinda Marie = Pabanisia Eva's Blue Amazon x Zygonisia Cynosure
Photo credits:
Pabanisia Eva's Blue Amazon: DementedPimento (Reddit) 
Zygonisia Cynosure: Maria's Orchids, 2016 New York Orchid show

The full genealogy of Tsubotaara Melinda Marie includes contribution from four different orchid genera.
Curiously, I could not find any photos of Zygopetalum graminifolium while researching this genealogy.  The image depicted below is gathered from a print from Jean Linden, a prominent orchid botanist from the 19th century. This is a species that does not appear to be frequently cultivated or photographed by orchid enthusiasts.  Nor was this ever a particularly popular species among orchid breeders: Zygopetalum Skippy Ku is the only hybrid registered with Z. graminifolium as a parent.

And here is a closeup of the contributing species.
Parent species of Tsubotaara Melinda Maria
Photo credits:
Pabstia jugosa: Orchi (Wikimedia commons)
Aganisia cyanea: Orchi (Wikimedia commons)
Zygopetalum graminifolium: Jean Linden orchid print
Zygopetalum intermedium: Manuel (Flickr)
Aganisia cyanea shares the greatest resemblance to Tsubotaara Melinda Marie, which makes sense because it was crossed twice into this hybrid.  However, I can see how features from both Zygopetalum and Pabstia genera are represented in the final hybrid. Tsubotaara Melinda Marie is a great example of how orchid breeding may be used to borrow traits from very different orchid genera to produce a truly distinct new flower.

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