Renziana Vol. 2: Phalaenopsis

Schweizerische Orchideenstiftung
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The second issue of Renziana is devoted to the orchid genus Phalaenopsis. Over the last decades, Phalaenopsis have become the most popular commercial orchids and house plants decorating thousands of window sills. Renziana readers will find professional advice for cultivation at home and commercial nurseries give insights of their artificial propagation methods. Like the first issue, Renziana illustrates the magnificent flowers of all wild species with colour images, supplemented by habitat photographs and information on the geographical distribution of the genus. In addition, an overview of the numerous natural and artificial hybrids is given. Finally, the importance of species protection in natural habitats, that are more and more reduced also for Phalaenopsis, is emphasized.
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Schweizerische Orchideenstiftung
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100
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English
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Joining previous issues of Renziana covering Paphiopedilum, Phalaenopsis, and Vanda, the current issue focuses on everything Cattleya – morphology, classification as the result of DNA sequence data, distribution, biogeography, ecology, conservation, pollination, breeding, and cultivation. The primary author for this issue is the widely acknowledged expert on Laeliinae and especially Cattleya, Cássio van den Berg. He recounts the taxonomic history of the genus and explains the rationale for lumping Sophronitis and Brazilian Laelia species into Cattleya as series of C. subgenus Cattleya section Crispae. He reminds us that Robert L. Dressler argued for the same reclassification 25 years ago strictly on the basis of interfertility.

 

For me the most interesting information in this issue is van den Berg’s thorough treatment of the distribution, biogeography and ecology of the species as a key to successful cultivation of the species. For instance, although C. aclandiae, C. nobilior, and C. walkeriana occupy dry habitats in the savannas and ‘Caatinga’ of inland Brazil, C. amethystoglossa grows in even more arid habitats in full sun on the palm species Syagrus coronata. How many plants of C. amethystoglossa and others have we killed by purposeful (but well-meaning) overwatering and/or excessive shading? Photos of several species in situ illustrate this section.

 

Phillip Cribb joined van den Berg in writing up a short history of the genus and also a section on morphology with an excellent watercolour of C. labiata. For the most part the description is accurate, but I think we should be using the term ‘capsule’ by now instead of ‘seed pod’. Legumes have pods, but orchids have capsules. ‘Pod’ has always been in common parlance in orchid media, but the term is morphologically, developmentally, and taxonomically incorrect with respect to orchids. Adding insult to injury, the caption for the capsule of C. dowiana × Hardyana on page 9 is referred to as the “Seed pot [my emphasis],” an obvious but unfortunate typographical error by the editors.

 

The issue is richly illustrated by excellent photos that would have reproduced better on a coated paper stock (a la Orchid Digest), but then the publication costs would have been higher. Everyone can afford this reasonably priced but highly informative exposition on one of the world’s favourite orchid genera. Everyone will keep it as a authoritative reference.

Alec Pridgeon

Sainsbury Orchid Fellow

Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

 

 

With the support of internationally renowned orchid experts, the Swiss Orchid Foundation has published the fourth edition of its annually released journal “Renziana”. In the preface of this journal Phillip Cribb states: “for many people a Cattleya is the archetypal orchid”.

As in previous issues (= Paphiopedilum (1), Phalaenopsis (2), and Vanda (3)), Cattleya, a common orchid genus that is quite frequently cultivated, was treated in the established monographic concept. After the preface- and morphology chapter comes the classification, containing a detailed imaging of all species. The next chapters deal with DNA data in relation to classification, the distribution, biogeography, and ecology – always well illustrated with drawings and (habitat) images  – followed by essays about the natural habitats, the history of the genus, hybridisation, threats to the natural habitats, breeding, and cultivation. The journal closes with the literature references and an image index. It astonishes how the publishers managed to summarize the 114 species on only 100 pages; many comprehensive books are not able to reach this informative value.     

For orchid enthusiasts, the incorporation of the genera Sophronitis and Laelia into Cattleya still takes getting used to. Terms like „Cattleya brevipedunculata“ leave the reader in puzzled reflection before they finally have an “Aha!” experience. Though, the comprehension for these expressions clearly increases after having read the chapter on the historic development of the genus  (compare pp. 42, 43).

After having published four issues, the Renziana can now be considered to have outgrown it’s infancy, as the solid and continuous concept of all editions has tightened. Now, the publishers should think about using a more appropriate paper for the upcoming issues, if they can manage to keep the costs low. This would improve the brilliance of the beautiful pictures.

 

German Senger

Orchid Society Palatinate, Germany

 

 

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