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Excerpts from

VOLUME 84, NO. 1—January, February, March 2020


Orchids and Coffee: Grounds For Alarm
Carol Siegel
10 pages, 15 photos

Virgin forest in Brazil next to cleared land with a sun coffee plantation.
©Mark Moffett Minden Pictures

My granddaughter and I were lamenting the sad fate of the Great Barrier Reef while we sat in my kitchen and drank our morning coffee from china cups (no Styrofoam here, no sir). She and I are keen advocates of taking care of our beautiful planet and all its incredible plants and animals. Imagine our dismay when we read in our morning newspaper that just by drinking a cup of coffee, even in a reusable cup, we were posing a significant risk to the biodiversity of Earth—and our beloved orchids. Who knew that with every casual sip, orchids were paying a real ecological price for our caffeine fix!

We are not the only ones addicted to coffee; we are not the only ones threatening orchids with our innocent morning habit. More than 400 billion cups of coffee are consumed across the world each year. As many as 25 million families in the developing world survive by growing coffee, and millions more subsist by processing, roasting, and selling it. It is the second most important export in the world, trailing only petroleum in importance and shores up the economies of 81 countries. Coffee is cultivated across 11 million hectares (42,471 square miles) of land within the world’s richest centers of biodiversity. How coffee is grown in these centers of life makes a difference since coffee plantations often serve as the last refuge for a fantastic array of increasingly threatened orchids, birds, insects, and mammals in an increasingly deforested world...

The Trouble with European Orchids
Phillip Cribb
6 pages, 13 photos

Orchis militaris in Burgundy, France.
©Phil Cribb

Orchis militaris in Burgundy, France.
©Phil Cribb

I always swore that I would leave European orchids to others. They are a group where enthusiasts outnumber the species by a factor of thousands. European orchid enthusiasts are as numerous as ornithological twitchers but far more argumentative. The reason is that European orchids seldom behave as we expect from what we read in books, particularly the many field guides that are currently available in good bookshops (or on Amazon if you do not care about the demise of the High Street bookshop).

Nevertheless, after many years at Kew, I succumbed and agreed to help coauthor, with Rolf Kühn and Henrik Pedersen, a field guide to European and Mediterranean orchids for Kew Publishing.

I have been familiar with European orchids since I was a boy where I saw many species on the chalk downs behind my home on the South Downs behind Brighton on the south coast of England. Particular favorites were the bee orchid (Ophrys apifera) whose flowers resembled furry bees and the Pyramidal orchid (Anacamptis pyramidalis) with is head of brilliant purple tiny flowers. Over the years, I have traveled extensively in Europe, Turkey, Israel, and North Africa, often on holiday or as a lecturer on a cruise ship and have seen many Mediterranean species in a region where the genus Ophrys is particularly speciose and numerous. When I started, some 45 years ago, the field guides agreed that there were some 150 or so species of orchids in Europe. However, as the years have progressed, this number has risen annually, mainly because many taxa which were considered to be varieties and subspecies have been raised to species rank, particularly in the genera Ophrys, Dactylorhiza, and Epipactis. Indeed, in a recent field guide, the number of bee orchids recognized has risen to over 350 species. To my mind, this number is unrealistic and defies logic and recent scientific studies of orchids in the region. Thus, my rationale for accepting what I had considered to be a poisoned chalice was that a field guide was needed that reflected more closely recent scientific studies on DNA, pollination biology, etc., and was useable by anyone, not just the avid enthusiast (i.e., orchid twitcher)...
Paphiopedilum trungkienii
A New Species from Vietnam Formerly Described
as a Variety of Paphiopedilum concolor

Olaf Gruss, Leonid Averyanov, Harold Koopowitz,
Nguyen Hoang Tuan, Chu Xuan Canh
6 pages, 9 photos

Paphiopedilum tungkienii
©C. X. Canh

In 2017, Leonid Averyanov, Olaf Gruss, C. X. Canh and N. H. Tuan described a new variety of Paphiopedilum concolor from Vietnam as Paphiopedilum concolor var. trungkienii in an internet publication of the member magazine of the German Orchid Society, Die Orchidee, Vol. 3 (08) 51-57, 2017 E-Paper: 54; 05.23.2017. The first two authors discussed at that time, whether it would not be more useful to describe this discovery as a new species. The authors agreed that it was necessary to review the status of the variety after finding additional plant populations in-situ and obtaining more knowledge by weighting and comparing the differences. They decided to wait for this analysis, and then they would consider whether classification as a separate species was justified...

Orchid Hunting in the Dolomites
Phillip Cribb
7 pages, 21 photos

Pulsatilla alpina subsp. apiifolia
©Phillip Cribb

Gymnadenia conopsea grows in abundance on the Alpi di Siusi.
©Phillip Cribb

The Dolomites of north-eastern Italy are deservedly famous as a tourist destination. The scenery is magnificent, as beautiful as anywhere in the world, added to which are the hospitality, food, and wine, each reason enough to tempt visitors. However, it is the alpine flora that draws the naturalist for the limestone rocks are rich in endemics, and many are spectacular plants. Accompanied by Harold Koopowitz and Steve Hampson, my wife, Marianne, and I based ourselves in two centers for a ten-day holiday. Although picked with a prayer and a pin, our choices proved ideal. We flew to Verona, the city of Romeo and Juliet, and picked up our rental car, a large Jeep Commander (unwieldy for narrow European roads but with scarcely enough room for the four of us and our luggage!) and headed north up the through the vineyards of the Trento valley.

Our first base near Brunico, in the north near the Austrian border, allowed us quick access to many of the most spectacular locations in the northern Dolomites, such as the Lago di Braies, Passo so Pratopiazza, and Tre Cime di Lavaredo, all more-or-less to the south of our hotel. On our arrival in the afternoon and after depositing our luggage, we headed up the valley to the Lago di Antiselva, a brooding mountain lake of a deep azure blue and surrounded by high Alpine peaks and dark coniferous forest. The lakeside bogs were full of marsh orchids, mostly common spotted orchids (Dactylorhiza fuchsii (Dactylorhiza maculata subsp. fuchsia), Alpine butterwort (Pinguicula alpina), Alpine toadflax (Liaria alpine), and globe flowers (Trollius europeus). The forest dropped to the lake margin in places, and the beautiful blue-flowered Alpine clematis (Clematis alpina) draped itself on the honeysuckle and shrubs under the trees. Nestled on a dark slope amongst bilberry bushes, we found two flowering spikes of coralroot (Corallorhiza trifida), an orchid I have seen across the northern hemisphere, even in western China...


Bulbophyllum arminii and Armin Szilvinyi
Rudolf Jenny
4 pages, 7 photos, 3 illustrations

Flowering plant of Bulbophyllum arminii.
©R. Amsler

From time to time, plants are showing up in collections that are difficult to name because they belong to a species that never was seen again after its first description. Bulbophyllum arminii is such a species. It was described first as Hapalochilus bandischii by Leslie A. Garay, Fritz Hamer, and Emly S. Siegerist in 1995 in the journal “Lindleyana.” Wolfgang Bandisch collected the plant at 950 m (3100 ft.) altitude at Lake Kutubu, Southern Highlands Province, Papua New Guinea. Together with other species, the plant was sent to Joan Levy (1926–2012), Memphis, Tennessee. Joan was an enthusiastic orchid grower and amassed an extensive collection, rich especially in orchids from New Guinea. From her collection, Leslie A. Garay got some pictures and flowers of an unknown Bulbophyllum for determination. He described and illustrated it in 1995 as Hapalochilus bandischii. In Garay’s files, there is a drawing of the plant and flower, together with some— unfortunately very unclear—photographs of the flower taken by Joan Levy. The type is at Harvard (Ames, flowers in alcohol)...

What I’ve Learned in the Ten Years Since
Building My Greenhouse
Edward Lysek
9 pages, 15 photos

Inside after the vertical supports were removed when construction was completed.
©Edward Lysek

My greenhouse is now ten years old. Stepping back, I realize I got a few things right and a few things wrong with the design, construction, and equipment I’ve installed. Hopefully, my experiences will help you with your greenhouse design or perhaps give you a few ideas to apply to your growing area, whether it be a greenhouse, lath house, or frost-free outdoor location.

Location and Orientation
First and foremost, I had to consider a site for my new greenhouse. I chose a location that catches the early morning sun even in the winter so that it quickly warms the greenhouse on chilly mornings. It also sits on a slight elevation and catches cooling, afternoon breezes coming from the ocean eight miles away. My site is at an elevation of 1,600 feet (490 meters) on the coastal hills of California, midway between San Francisco and Los Angeles. A clear path for sunlight to strike your greenhouse is essential, so be careful to consider low winter sun angles when evaluating the shading effect of nearby trees and buildings.

I oriented the long axis of my greenhouse northeast to southwest. This orientation gives me a “sunny” southern side for cattleyas and higher-light orchids and a “shady” northern side for paphiopedilums and phalaenopsis. I’ve shaded the western end with 60% shade cloth on the inside and whitewash on the outside to protect the orchids from the intense heat and light of the setting sun...