ON - In Pabst's time, there were at about 60 recognized species and a natural hybrid Catasetum X issanensis Pabst. Nowadays two more hybrids are recognized and the number of recognized species is almost 100. It is really true that some of them are not new species but verified occurrences to Brazil. In your opinion what is reason for this 50% increase, is it due to a greater knowledge of the Amazon region?

KL - At about 295 species have been described with 80 varieties and it seems to have just little more than 120 valid species. It means, there are a lot of synonyms, result of having more than a description for the same species and nomem nudum. In a work presented 5 years ago in the XV World Orchid Conference, I listed 14 reasons explaining why it happens to Catasetum. It is unbelievable that still nowadays people make mistakes as they were made a century ago when we hardly knew about floral polymorphism in the genus. Recently quite reasonably known species have been described and published based in just one flower! There are stories about plant with hermaphrodite blossom described as a new species... Imagine if you cultivate a plant that every year is a different species, depending on the flowers, if male, hermaphrodite or female... If the plant has the tree forms in the same spike, each part of the plant will be another species... But, as Pedro Ivo, used to repeat, Botany does not put in jail...
Nevertheless the number of valid species has been really increased, may be 25% in the last 20 years. This is due to the construction of new roads in Amazon region, in Brazil as well Ecuador, Bolivia and Peru, through where the researchers and collectors could work. In Colombia, a few species have been discovered and in Venezuela, Romero, Carnevalli and others have described some species and many natural hybrids.

ON - The coloring found in the species of the genera of that group is extraordinary mainly in Mormodes and Catasetum, even in Cycnoches, poorer in number of species. Every discovery, a richer coloring. Among those new species, one has been described in your homage, Catasetum kleberianum Braga and many others you have described. If I am not wrong, you described:
- Ctsm. ariquemense, Ctsm. franchinianum, Ctsm. galeatum, Ctsm. gladiatorium;
- with Miranda: Ctsm. carolinianum, Ctsm. complanatum, Ctsm. longipes, Ctsm. schmidtianum;
- with João Batista da Silva: Ctsm. maranhense;
- with Vitorino Paiva Neto: Ctsm. osculatum.
But I believe that, in proportion to total number of the species of the genus, Mormodes is the genera that increased more. At least, 10 new species between 21 referred nowadays.

KL - There are also Ctsm. aculeatum, some Mormodes. However to do a revision of the genus is most important than discover and describe new species. It is an exhausting work at long term because requires a complete verification of the literature, of the types in herbariums in many parts of the world, work in the fields, verification of the variation inside each species, possibility of natural hybridization, confirmation of geographic distribution and, particularly about the genus Catasetum, cultivation to observe some phenological and floral polimorphism data. This is only possible with a multicentric study. In 1993, Romero and Jenny organized the last checklist, which is about to be updated and I have bee invited to give my collaboration. In this way, we can obtain the correct nomenclatures and the correct taxonomical position.
  The criterion to described new species is fundamental.
gladiatorium, for example, I took ten years and examined hundred of alive plants, I did the work field in order to decide if it was question of a different taxon. I refrained from publishing many species because I took my time to study them with details but I am sure I avoided some mistakes... To study, I have my own "data center" with more 400 flasks with flowers Catasetinae maintained in an alcoholic solution and place the exsiccates at the Herbarium of the Institute for Biological Sciences of the Federal University of Minas Gerais - UFMG (BHCB).
  ON - And about Mormodes aureum L. C. Menezes, is this a synonymy? In recent checklists, we do not find Mormodes amazonicum Brade, Mormodes densiflorum Miranda, Mormodes hoehnei Miranda, Mormodes hirsutissimum Miranda, Mormodes wolterianum, you as an expert in this group, could tell us why? Sometimes, we find the spelling of the Mormodes species as feminine, which one is corrected, Mormodes vinacea or Mormodes vinaceum, Mormodes sinuata or Mormodes sinuatum?

KL - Mormodes is, no doubt about, inside the Catasetinae group the most complicated genus under the point of taxonomy. There is an enormous confusion, revisions with doubts and misunderstandings. I don't feel myself encouraged to do this revision. Salazar, in Mexico, is a specialist in this subject. The Brazilian species remain without many studies. The flowers of this genus present subtle differences between male and female flowers but in the same species, even in the same plant, they change a lot according to climatic conditions! I was about to describe a species (mine M58), which bloomed with the smaller flowers of the genus, green with chestnut stripes, short and dense inflorescence; the next year, the flowers almost duplicate the size, well separated in a long spike, light green with dark green stripes: it was Mormodes elegans. I assure it was not a label mistaken ...
  Almost all Brazilian Mormodes with vinosus or reddish coloration (that I know) present occasionally alba, yellow flowers. When João Batista found Mormodes paraense in a pathway in the south of the Pará, he saw two plants together with those colors.
Because of the morphology, I consider that Morm. aureum L. C. Men. is the same Morm. vernixioidea Pabst or Morm. vernixium Rchb. F. To stay with the "vinosus", we also have Morm. vinacea Hoehne and Morm. paraense Salazar & da Silva.
  The differences concern the morphology, privileging the lobation of the lip and the size of the flowers. Now, imagine that in one same species, and even in one same plant, in male or female flowers, there can also be an attenuation of the lobation, variation of size, change in the torsion of the column, etc. We fall into the case of the plant that in one year it is one species and in the next year, a different species... speaking of determining Mormodes, forget dimensions of the plant and flowers, disposition and quantity of the flowers. Concerning the species referred, Morm. wolterianum is an old one and I don't know why it does not appear but Morm. densiflorum Miranda, Morm. hoehnei Miranda & Lacerda, Morm. hirsutissimum Miranda are not included yet because they are relatively recent. I have some doubts about Morm. amazonicum Lindl. we should to confirm it; it has been mistaking with Morm. buccinator and with other quite different. It appears with this reservation of nomenclature in the illustrations of Margareth Mee in her book "Em Busca das Flores da Floresta Amazônica" (Searching the flowers of Amazon Forest), work of great artistic and documentary value but it sins against the identification of Catasetinea by the misunderstandings. It does not appear in the revision did by Pabst who changed the names of the species into feminine forms but many people do not agree with it. Etymologically, Mormodes comes from the Greek, mormo = monster and eidos = form, that could be latinized into neuter or masculine genus. It is up to every one, until a new order... Particularly, I had rather not to use feminine form.

ON - Also concerning the genus Cycnoches, why some species are not recently referred such Cyc. chlorochilon Kl, Cyc. maculatum Lindl., Cyc. peruvianum Rolfe, Cyc. thurstonorum. At least, regarding to Cyc. maculatum, the occurrence in Brazil has been confirmed and about the others?

KL - There is a report about the occurrence of Cyc. maculatum (common in Venezuela) in Brazil and plants coming from Amazonas late identified as Cyc. peruvianum and Cyc. thurstonorum, present in collection of orchidists. A correct citation should fulfil the scientific requirements and to be published in this way, just few have been done it; publishing photos or just report in any publication can be done but without technical values. Collectors use to hide or distort information about the places of the discoveries, in order to avoid ravages or to preserve for his own usage. I have already received plants as they were novelty collected in the interior of Brazil - in good faith, probably y change of label, plants artificially reproduced by seeds or imported that, for sure, do not occur in our country. Besides there are artificial hybrids to confuse; imagine a capsule of those hybrids spread out in natural environment... Among the orchidists, histories circulate, some of them quite unlike. Some rumors become strong and spread out that induced to mistakes and we have many examples of this. Miltonia spectabilis has been published as native of Venezuela, nowadays it is considered as a mistake. When I face something that I suppose it could be a novelty, I would rather go to the place where the plant was picked and verify it personally.

ON - Regarding to Catasetum lanciferum Lindl. object of your article published CAOB Bulletin, number 38, out/nov.dez/1999, could you clarify some points? This specie just occurs in the north of Minas and southeast of Bahia? And in the states of São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, the occurrence would concern Cstm. fimbriatum, which is very confused with? And about Catasetum appendiculatum, would it be Cstm. lanciferum or Cstm. gladiatorium?

KL - Let's explain: Catasetum lanciferum Lindl. is an old and valid species which occurs in the southeast of Bahia, going through Minas Gerais until the regions bordering the state of São Paulo, according to my personal verification, and in Goiás according to the information I learnt secondhand. I do not know if it occurs in the state of Rio de Janeiro. Catasetum appendiculatum, as demonstrated in the article, is an invalid name, that has been used for long times, due to a mistake done by Hoehne and followed by other authors to designate Ctsm. lanciferum, Ctsm. gladiatorium, Ctsm. barbatum and their numerous varieties, and other species; it should be abolished.
  Catasetum fimbriatum. Foto/photo: Kleber Lacerda   Catasetum fimbriatum,
even when present long
and numerous fimbriae
(bordering fringes) in the
lip, it is impossible to be
confused, because it has
a floral morphology
completely different and it
does not even own to the same
  It is worth to point out that people, in general, when they look for identifying the species of the Ctsm. cristatum Lindl. Complex pay too much attention to the quantity and size of the fimbriae in the lip and that characteristic has no significant taxonomic value.
Ctsm. barbatum, for example, can present lip with strong piloses near to be glabrous, this is a question of varieties. The most important to diagnostic differentiation (concerning the morphology) is the distribution of those fimbriae in the lip, if they are in the surface or in the margins, if in the totality or just in a certain part, also the localization and the conformation of the callosities.
What could make it difficult are the intraspecific variation and the interspecific gradation. It is suitable to add that the characterization of a species can employ the usual criterions and the molecular systematic. Not only morphological data, the most used, but the whole set of information about geographic distribution, scents and pollinators, phenology, etc. should be considered. The use of molecular biology is very important to the phylogenetic studies but I think it still lacks of clear parameters to help in taxonomy mainly concerning the species. The Darwinian concept of species covers the morphologic, physiologic and ecological whole, and many regions of DNA can have much or little importance; just a small change in the production of scent, for example, is enough to provoke speciation, while many differences in genes could not lead to significant phenotypical modifications. Just as an example, Catasetum barbatum and Catasetum lanciferum are morphologically very similar, sometimes hard to be distinguished, but they will never if the habitats are traded.

ON - In the book "Orquídeas Nativas da Amazônia Brasileira" ("Native Orchids from Brazilian Amazon"), João Batista F. da Silva and Manoela F.F. da Silva presented the following species as synonyms:
Ctsm. appendiculatum = Ctsm. barbatum;
Ctsm. brichtae = Ctsm. ferox;
Ctsm. lemosii = Ctsm. albovirens and
Ctsm. randi = Ctsm. rivularium Barb. Rodr.
Do you agree?

KL - In the history, everything leads to believe - also included in the referred article about
Ctsm. lanciferum
- that the plant described as Ctsm. appendiculatum is nothing but a variety of Ctsm. barbatum.
  Ctsm. brichtae is in fact Ctsm. ferox,   and I think that Ctsm. peruvianum can also be because except for the dimensions, it is very similar.
  Ctsm. lemosii and Ctsm. albovirens are, for sure, the same species, as I could verified in examining types in the herbarium of Museu Goeldi (Goeldi Museum), in Belem, together with João Batista.
  Catasetum rivularium. Foto/photo:Kleber Lacerda
Ctsm. randi is a name
to be forgotten because,
no doubt about, it is
Ctsm. rivularium,
quite characteristic by its
two callosities with piloses
tufts in the lip and very
short antennae,
well visible in the
Ctsm. randi holotypus
in Kew, England, and
in the watercolor by
Barbosa Rodrigues.
Here, once more,
a misunderstanding
was provoked by the
of Ctsm. barbatum

varieties,published by
many authors, as they
were Ctsm. randi.
  Catasetum randi (holotypus).

ON - What have you to say about Catasetum gardneri Schltr. and Catasetum discolor Lindl.?
Why is so hard to separate the two species or there is no two species?
Many people say that this one that occurs in the sand is Ctsm gardneri and the epiphyte should be Ctsm. discolor. Pabst did not mention Ctsm. gardneri, just Ctsm discolor.

KL - There is no way to confuse one with the other: Ctsm. gardneri (known as Ctsm. discolor var. fimbriatum) occurs with terrestrial habits in the coast of the Southeast and Northeast of Brazil, has smaller flowers and the female flowers are small and characteristically elongated;
Ctsm. discolor
is a species that occurs predominately in Amazon region although it also occurs in other kinds of vegetation in neighbor areas in Brazil and Venezuela. The female flowers are globular and bigger that led to the publication of Ctsm. cassideum - thus, invalid, - based on them. There are still in the group Ctsm. x roseo-album, treated of Ctsm. discolor and considered by Romero as a natural hybrid between Ctsm. discolor and Ctsm. longifolium, what is contested by Pallarés, and Ctsm. ciliatum.

ON - The natural hybrid Ctsm. X issanensis Pabst is a result of a crossing between Ctsm. discolor or pileatum X Ctsm. longifolium?

KL - Ctsm. X issanensis is a natural hybrid between Ctsm. pileatum and Ctsm. longifolium, that we can deduce mainly by the color of male flowers (well illustrated in a watercolor by Samuel Salvado) and by the leaves length.

ON - Catasetum arachnoideum Ames is a synonym of Ctsm. callosum Lindl?

KL - I can base upon on Romero's information to answer it positively. Romero is the director at Oakes Ames Orchid Herbarium, Cambridge, USA, where the typus of this species is preserved. We should remember that there is an illustration in the old magazine "Orquídea" (Vol. 27:2, mar/abr. 1945, page 73), identified as it was this species, but, in fact, it is a different species that I could not identify, close to Ctsm. pulchrum or Ctsm. richteri.

ON - You talked about "Associação de Orquidófilos da Amazônia"("Amazon Orchidophiles Association"), what can you say about this association? About its importance, duration, collaborators, publications?

KL - The "Associação de Orquidófilos do Amazonas" has been found in 1981, 16th January, in Manaus, by a group of enthusiast people who have been meeting together to talk about orchids. We lived in Manaus although almost all of us were immigrants from others states or countries: Pedro Ivo, Marilene, myself, Berenice, Antonio Nogueira, Sebastiana, João Batista, Manoela, Johannes Junk, Karola, Norman Penny, Ana Maria, Eliana Fernandez, Atílio Storti, Jean Louis Guilaumet, Susanne Renner, Richard Frisch. Many local enthusiast orchidists joined us and the activities were intense, with meetings at home and at INPA (National Institute Amazon Researches). I had the honor to be the president of this society in most part of it existence. Soon, in April 1981 we published - printed in "off-set"! - the first issue of "AOA bulletin", an indexed publication, at first published monthly then bimonthly, it was free, it went on being regularly distributed including libraries and Brazilian and foreign universities during four years. It has articles and scientific works, always unpublished, and by those times without the means of the computer, the editors - Francisco Miranda, Pedro Ivo and me - stayed all night to type in electric typewriter (with bold and italic characters, imagine!), cutting and sticking strips of texts and black and white photos. Pedro Ivo was the scientific director and rigorously established the conditions for the publication thus the good quality of this unpretentious periodical often referred in the literature. In the middle of 1985, the AOA was dissolved due to the moving of the great part of the associates and nobody could offer to maintain it. Nowadays the "spoil" is with Professor Pedro Ivo, at the Universidade do Amazonas (University of Amazonas) but the memory of the friendly and proficient companionship, the discoveries, the great moments of our meetings and excursions remain in the memory of the associates.


Caatinga: Kind of vegetation charasterisc of Brazilian northeast region reaching also the northeast of Maranhão and Minas Gerais. It is a stunted rather sparse forest that is leafless during the dry season and is widespread in areas of small rainfalls. The shrubs are often prickly and many succulent plants occur there (specially cactaceas)
Humic acid: any of various organic acids that are insoluble in alcohol and organic solvents and obtained from the humus.
Igapó - flood forests, flooded banks and slower flowing rivers. They only remains under water seasonally, not for a long period in general.
Várzea: flood and fertile plains: cover the lowland plains that stay under water for months due to the flooding of the white water rivers.
Campina: vast tract of open country - woodland
Campinarana: (Amazonas) extensive space of open prairie-land which, due to the improvement of the soil, changes little by little into woodland.
Speciation: Formation of the species or the process that leads to this formation whither constituting gradual divergences from selected groups or occurring abruptly by combination or transformation of genomes. Process in many phases occurring in an enormous gap of time according to which the live species differ one from the others.
Phenology: A branch of the science that study the relations between climate and periodic biological phenomena, in Botany, the bud, flowering and the fruiting of the plants, determining the seasons and the characteristics.
Phenotype: Visible characters of an organism.

Bibliography :

Francisco Miranda - Orchids from Brazilian Amazon - Editora Expressão e Cultura
Webster's Third New International Dictionary
Novo Dicionário do Aurélio - Editora Nova Fronteira
Brazilian Orchids by Sodo - Kleber Lacerda - Amazon "Discovery of New Species and Extinction"

Kleber in a giant Vellozia .