Cattleya labiata is the type of Cattleya, meaning it was the species used to create the genus. It
has a very interesting story which is not going to be commented here in detail as it is available in quite a few
publications old and recent. To mention it briefly, though, Cattleya labiata
was first collected early in the last century, and as was typical of these days, without having the correct region
mentioned. These old days, the collectors wanted to make sure that their competitors were not going to have access
to the showiest species. Later on, George Gardner thought he found the species in the coastal mountains of Rio
de Janeiro, but in reality what he found was Laelia
lobata, another showy species but
with smaller flowers. It took many years until collectors figured out that Cattleya labiata
really came from mountains in the northeastern region of Brazil, and since then the species was readily available.
Plants of Cattleya labiata
occur mainly as epiphytes on tall trees in the tropical slope forest covering several of these mountain ranges
in northeast Brazil, but also can be found growing directly over rocks whenever fairly strong wind is constant.
With this, in the wild the plants are subject to a lot of variation regarding exposure to light and air circulation.
The altitude the plants occur is usually above 500 meters, but these mountain ranges are not very high anyway.
With its tropical distribution, the species is not subject to well marked seasons, and the growth cycle is mostly
influenced by the rainy and dry seasons. Plants from the two populations are somewhat distinct. The ones from Ceará
produce usually smaller, rounder and darker flowers while the ones from Pernambuco and Alagoas are usually lighter
and larger. As for the southernmost population, the best shaped labiatas came from the state of Alagoas (see map).
Cattleya labiata is one of the species with more color variation in the genus.
Although many of these color forms are not known outside Brazil, the species is as rich as Cattleya trianae, C. mossiae and C. lueddemaniana
or any other in this respect. In terms of flower shape, the average Cattleya labiata
from the wild may not produce as round flowers as some of the previously mentioned related species, but plants
produced from seed after a few generations are impressive. Below there is a brief comment on some of this color
variation, and in the future more pictures will be added to better exemplify it.
Distribution Map for Cattleya labiata.
Interesting to note are the two main and separate distribution areas. The species is still quite common in remote
||Here there are some of the numerous color forms of Cattleya labiata. The first three plants were found in nature decades ago, and these are among the highest-quality
native plants ever found of the species. The color forms are NOT necessarily botanical forms and thus are not italicized,
these are just the way plants are known in Brazil.
On 1, we see Cattleya
labiata rubra 'Schuller', probably
the best rubra found in nature. The normal color form of the species has two white eyes on the lip side-lobes.
Rubras, beside usually much darker, have the color masking those white eyes (I will include soon a picture of the
regular color form for comparison).
On 2, there is Cattleya
labiata coerulea 'Lourival', one with
not very intense color on the lip but very shapely flowers.
3 depicts Cattleya
labiata carnea 'Guinle', a very old
plant but still spectacular by current standards for the species.
From now on, the plants are all artificially propagated. On 4, there is
a poliploid version of Cattleya labiata amesiana 'Foleyana'. This plant was produced by cloning of
the original amesiana 'Foleyana', a very nice plant found in nature several decades ago. The color is exactly like
the original, but size and especially substance of the flowers is dramatically improved.
On 5, there is Cattleya
labiata amesiana 'Maria Cristina',
an excellent cultivar that came from ''Foleyana' after 2-3 generations of selfings and outcrossings.
6 shows one of the recent and excellent albas produced by selfings and outcrossings of some
of the already very good ones found in nature. Albas have been found in small numbers throughout the years, and
even today they haven't being produced in large numbers.
On the contrary, semi-albas have been produced in very large numbers, initially using 'Odete' and 'Marina', both
native plants (with a little adding of 'Cooksoniae') and later sibbing the results. The unnamed cultivar shown
in 7 exemplifies the high quality common presently.