1- CATTLEYA loddigesii
and C. harrisoniana
Among the Brazilian species of Cattleya, there are a few pairs of species that are source of a lot of headaches for orchid growers
and, dare I say, taxonomists also. The most famous are Cattleya
loddigesii-C. harrisoniana, C.guttata-C. leopoldii (C. tigrina), C. granulosa-C. schoffieldiana
and C. walkeriana-C. nobilior. Eventually, we'll discuss all of them, but we have enough
problems for now with the first one.
We can start saying that we have two separate species
here, and when the differences are pointed out telling one from the other is not that difficult. Some brief data
about each also helps. I will put the basic differences in a table at the end of the page, and the following map
shows roughly the distribution pattern of the two species.
Cattleya harrisoniana grows on the coastal plains of the States of Rio de Janeiro
and Espírito Santo, sometimes being found up in the mountains (Serra dos Órgãos) following
up the rivers that feed the plains. The highest altitude reported in the State of Rio de Janeiro is of almost 1000
meters on one locality close to the city of Nova Friburgo. It is interesting to note that the mountains there are
quite steep and from their tops one can easily see the coastal plains. Plants under these conditions are quite
rare but must be mentioned anyway. But, the main areas where the plants can be found in extremely high quantities
are on seasonally flooded swampy areas around those rivers that frequently get blocked by sand dune formations.
Humidity is always high and temperatures in summer are very unpleasant (at least for humans, the plants seem to
enjoy as can be told by their profusion). These areas are unfortunately being destroyed at an astonishing rate,
basically for development. The basic color variation is on the intensity of the lavender. There are a few albino
forms and very rare almost white-colored. A splash-petal form has been also found.
Cattleya loddigesii grows in mountainous areas in the States of São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Minas
Gerais. The species is absent from the first mountain range from the coast (Serra do Mar and Serra dos Órgãos
or Organ Mountains), so it cannot get mixed with Cattleya
harrisoniana. Instead, it grows on
the second mountain range, Serra da Mantiqueira, and form there to the interior. With this, we can conclude that
the species is much more of a cooler grower than Cattleya
harrisoniana. The main habitats for
Cattleya loddigesii are the GALLERY FORESTS bordering most of the medium to large-sized rivers. The
species used to be extremely plentiful but destruction of habitat has been a major issue since many decades ago.
The flowers of Cattleya loddigesii are somewhat larger and fuller than those of C. harrisoniana, and the color is usually of a much lighter pink (the pictures shown above are, unfortunately,
not very representative of the two species. The Cattleya
harrisoniana is very full for the
species and the C. loddigesii very dark. I will update the page when more typical pictures
are available.). Cattleya loddigesii is also a magnificent winter bloomer while C. harrisoniana flowers in the first half of summer. Things would be much easier if there was not for a
population found on the margins of the Paraíba river in the States of São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro.
The Paraíba river flows between the Serras do Mar and Mantiqueira and reaches the ocean on the northern
part of Rio de Janeiro state. This population is found basically in the state of São Paulo and plants bloom
usually at the end of spring. Speculations are that this would be an ancient hybrid population of the two species
that later got isolated. There is a lot of logic in that, but so far the morphology is more similar to that of
Cattleya loddigesii and thus those plants are considered as an extreme of it.
There is the typical expected variation on the intensity of the pink color, but besides albino forms there is not
that much more.
|Flowers with heavier substance and narrower segments.
||Flowers with wider segments and lighter substance.
|Lavender segments, whitish lip with very fleshy yellow-orange
keels on disc and yellow veins on interior surface of sidelobes.
||Pink segments, frequently with varied amount of spotting,
whitish lip with less defined white to light cream or pink keels on disc. No veins on sidelobes.
|Lip sidelobes tightly decurrent with column and only
slightly exceeding it thus well exposing the column and producing a long frontlobe.
||Lip sidelobes loose from the column and far exceeding
its length, sometimes almost as long as frontlobe.
|Column facing more to the front.
||Column facing more downwards.