Page 1 - February 2000
In this first issue of this page I will like to
introduce you to some high quality plants of one species just to give you an idea of the present stage of improvement
by means of artificial propagation. Being this the first issue I also would like to stress a few positive and negative
aspects of artificial propagation of species. Now and in the future I will be coming back to these points whenever
a chance present itself, so important I think they are.
On the positive side, artificial propagation has
obvious benefits. The first one is by itself the chance of making available species that are rare on under heavy
pressure of collecting in nature; this is even more important considering the destruction of habitats, something
way more important than collecting at present days. The second benefit is that higher quality plants can be available
due to selective breeding.
Now, this second benefit is also the most important
drawback of artificial propagation of species. Putting this straight and clearly, the problem is having hybrids
labeled and awarded as species. It would be very easy to just say that people do this with bad intentions, but
this is not always the case. Problem is, since the early days of artificial propagation this has been happening,
voluntarily or involuntarily. On the voluntary side, this is caused by the temptation of adding some hybrid blood
to a species to improve things like color, shape and size of flower. On the involuntary side, hybrids mislabeled
as species have been used as parents for outcrossing due to ignorance of the real species. Regardless of the intentions
(or lack of them), the fact is that many high quality species being produced now don't even stand a chance of being
awarded due to the fact that hybrids (even complex ones, taxonomists get terrified just looking at these things
being called pure species) have been previously awarded. To make matters much worse, these obvious hybrids are
being used as stepping stones to produce more of the "species". I will eventually give examples of these
with pictures to illustrate my point, but as a Taxonomist and Conservationist what really worries me is that in
50 years or so from now we will have lost many of the real species. This is selected extinction due to artificial
propagation, ironic, ain't it so? Maybe most people don't care, I think everybody should start to.
Anyway, this might have sounded quite pessimistic,
but that's reality and I said what I had to say for now. Let's see some improvements on real species (remember,
I am a Taxonomist and have a reputation to maintain so these are pure species).
1- Cattleya intermedia
This is not going to be a detailed treatment of
the species, but instead just a comment on the splash-petal forms of it. I am not even going to discuss the different
color forms with splashes, this will be left for sometime later.
||As I said, just looking at these few pictures, one can
have an idea of how magnificent the flowers can be of this particular species. Let's discuss what was done to obtain
these incredible flowers.
On 1, there is Cattleya
intermedia aquinii 'FM' which was
produced by several generations of selfings and sibs of plants originated by the first selfing of C. intermedia aquinii, the one original plant found in nature. The results so far is that we now have aquiniis
with flowers that open the petals.
Now, to have flowers that really open well, the aquiniis were outcrossed with several 'flammeas' found in nature.
These ''flammeas' are plants whose flowers were not totally peloric but open flat. Among there flammeas were ''Juvencio,
'Joãozinho' and ''Cardeal', all jungle plants. The results can be seen on 2 and 3
plus several other high quality plants produced.
On the quest of producing flat splashed flowers, the aquiniis and flammeas were outcrossed with regular intermedias
(no splashes at all) with excellent shape and, of course, flat flowers. The results in first generation were not
always splashed, but some with flat and wide petals. On 4 we have the result of crossing Cattleya intermedia aquinii
''FM' with a regular good (normal shape and color) C.
intermedia. This particular plant
came from a batch with good percentage of splashes. And on 5, a striking
example of fat, flat and splashed recent Cattleya
At this point, I'd say we hit a wall regarding shape and color improvement. We will see different stages of development
when we look at the other colors.
2- Cattleya schilleriana
I don't want to clutter this section with too much
text, but somehow I couldn't avoid it with Cattleya
intermedia. This below is what to
expect mainly in this section, just a picture and comments about it. Feedback welcome.
||I just decided to add this picture to wet a little bit
the mouth of readers, please apologise. This is Cattleya
schilleriana coerulea ''Maria Cristina',
one of the best ever produced of this color form. Flowers are large, flat and gorgeously colored. Too bad this
is one of the slooow growers from seed.