Rolf Altenburg was born in Blumenau, in the state of Santa Catarina, in
July, 1909 and died in l991.
His fascination for the orchids started, around 1952, by the orchids his cousin and future son-in-low, Siegwald Odebrecht, gave to his daughter. Soon, it became a passion and he found the traditional orchid company in l956.
With the importation of top breeding plants from the entire worlds and with the establishment of the laboratory by l960, the hybridizing became a constant practices and famous hybrids have been created by Rolf Altenburg such as Bc.Pastoral, Bc. Turandot, Blc. Captain Pessoa, Blc. Enid Moore,Blc. Roberto Cardoso, C.Sonia Altenburg, Lc. José
  Dias Castro, Lc. João Antonio Nicoli, Lc. Kunta Kinte, between many others that were and still are used extensively by breeders in Brazil and abroad.
Nowadays, Sandra Odebrecht, his grand-daughter, goes on with this work with her husband, Stephen L.Champlin.


An imaginary interview with Rolf Altenburg (based on what he wrote in his catalogues, a true historical report of the crosses he made)

Orchid News: Mr. Rolf, what is your aim when you create new plants?

Rolf Altenburg: Breeding fine Cattleya hybrids, Brazilian and foreign species, improving quality and making shapes better have been our aim for the past 26 years, since we began in l954.

In our hybridizing and mericloning program, only outstanding stud plants were used from the best sources and mainly of our own breeding.

ON: Observing the photos of flowers of the same hybrid but from different plants, we notice that they are not identical. With Blc. Captain Pessoa, for example, the variation is remarkable.
Why this if the crossing is the same?

Blc. Captain Pessoa - Aug. 1988
Blc. Captain Pessoa - Jan. 1989
Blc. Captain Pessoa
Blc. Captain Pessoa - Dez. 1988
Blc. Captain Pessoa - Aug. 1988
Blc. Captain Pessoa - Nov. 1988
Blc. Captain Pessoa - Dec. 1988
Blc. Captain Pessoa - Dec. 1988


RA: The variation of parents in general modifies the result and this is confirmed by the fact that many registered crosses are never alike although they have the same name.
It is very simple. All hybrids carry their own genes or chromosomes which are more or less interdependent and which contain hereditary characteristics. It is recognized that each plant has different genes and even when are sisters, i.e. born from the same seed pod, and given the same name it does not mean necessarily that all of them will generate the same progeny.

  ON: We can see the same thing with C. Sonia Altenburg.

RA: This is a successful crossing of the best semi-albas (using C. Enid semi-alba) produced until now.
We also did this hybrid using our beautiful variety C. Enid 'Butterfly' , which probably is the best of its kind and this is practically a repetition of the first one.
The only difference being the fact of using the variety 'Butterfly' .
Foto/Photo: Sergio Araujo C. Sonia Altenburg

  ON: What you can say to us about one of the your most famous hybrids, Lc. José Dias de Castro (C. labiata escura x Lc. Sam W. Soysa)?
RA: This is our own masterpiece and needs no further comment about its excellence. We are proud to announce that this wonderful creation is recognized as one of the most successful hybrids of these last years. We do not know of any other hybrid producing so high a percentage of top quality flowers. We affirm that out of ten seedlings, four produce the highest type of flower, two are excellent, two very good and two only good.
  The majority are very dark lavender and magenta, some medium lavander, all perfectly shaped. Average diameter of flowers is five inches. Good growth and very floriferous. All have perfect Todas de armação perfeita.
We also have the Lc. José Dias de Castro 'Autumn', dark purple of heavy substance and good shape. The lip is medium magenta velvet with yellow-ochre blotches at the base in a beautiful contrast. There is the 'Magnífica", which is placed between the best, excellent shape and substance, the petals and sepals are reddish magenta contrasting with the wonderful intense purple velvet lip.

ON: What is the tip you can give to us in order to have a Lc. José Dias de Castro blooming in so excellent way?

RA: For perfect blooming of larger flowers of brighter and deeper colors, this particular hybrid requires as much light as possible, soon after the buds start to appear in the sheath, as well as to stop watering when the bus begin to come out of the sheath until blooming has been completed.

ON: Why use this plant to form new hybrids?
RA: The extraordinary Lc. José Dias de Castro constitutes a permanent invitation to be used for creating new hybrids, as we are convinced that its genetic and color potentials, will originate a most desirable progeny.

Note: SInce then, this hybrid, Lc. José Dias de Castro, has been used 49 times to create hybrids of 1st. generation.


Bc. Pastoral 'Innocence'
ON: Another hybrid of you has already took its place in the history of the hybrids, the Bc. Pastoral, mainly 'Innocence' which is really outstanding.

RA: This variety is between the best alba brassocattleyas. The flowers are large, well carried and of good substance. Both, alba and light pink, have fringed lips really wonderful.

  ON: You have already use Bc. Pastoral to create new hybrid. What would be a good example of this re-crossing?
  Foto/Photo: Sergio Araujo
Bc. Turandot 'Guaxupé'

RA: The Bc. Turandot is the result of the crossing of Cattleya Bob Betts with Bc. Pastoral.
Many plants have already bloomed with a predominance of oustanding pink flowers witrh large, fringed, perfect and well carried lips. The flowers are well shaped, with thick substance and long lasting. A small percentage is alba, with magnificent stances, large fringed lips, shades of yellow-lemon at the fauce.

Note: SInce then, this hybrid, Bc Pastoral, has been used 103 times to create hybrids of 1st. generation


ON: E a Lc. Alfredo Martinelli?

RA: It is already known by the most demanding orchid growers, beacuse of its perfection.
A Lc. Alfredo Martinelli 'Wanda' has large well carried flowers, dark lavender petals and sepals, standing out the purple lip with an uniform color. The petals are large and cross each other slightly. They are vigorous plants with good growth.

Lc. Alfredo Martinelli 'Wanda'

  ON: So to obtain those results, you verify the former generations to make new hybrids, you do not stay just restrain to generation immediately before, don't you?

RA: For example, the Lc. Color Beauty (crossing of
. Nellie Roberts with
. Edgard van Belle 'Mesbla' ) has the influence of the
Bow Bells, integrated in the C. Nellie Roberts and is the key to the
shaped flowers of this hybrid.

Lc. Color Beauty
  The combination with the beautiful yellow Lc. Edgard van Belle 'Mesbla' has originated a wide variation of magnificient colors ranging through salmon, copper, bronze, orange and yellow shades.

  ON: Going on with this kind of color variations, what's about Blc. Luz del Fuego (Lc. Belle of Celle x Blc. Sun King)?

RA: The reddish-copper Lc. Belle of Celle is the result of C. Nigrella and
Lc. Edgard Van Belle, the former is universally used in numerous famous
Foto/Photo: Sergio Araujo
Blc. Luz del Fuego
vary dark hybrids, and the later an extraordinary yellow, also famous for its genetic potential. It is crossed here with one of our best Blc. Sun King, which is a copper flower, of heavy substance and marvelous shape, with an outstanding reddish-carmine lip. Certainly, this will give a progeny composed of the most attractive varied colors.

ON: Why cross C. Chamberlainiana with Lc. Yellow Glory?
  RA: This hybrid, Lc. Color Dances, is very interesting for its remarkable color variations. Beautifully varied color such as yellow, copper, bronze, orange, brick, reddish-carmine, fire-red and others. The lips are predominantly intense reddish-purple and attractively contrasting.
Medium sized, star-like flowers, good substance.

Lc. Color Dances

  ON: What you could say about the cross of Blc. Sun King with Lc. Golden Delight?
  Foto/Photo: Sergio Araujo
Lc. Doña Sol
RA: This a cross of remarkable yellows. So far the blooming of some plantas gave yellow, orange, copper and salmon flowers, with very nice lis and excellent shapes. It is registered under the name Lc. Doña Sol.

  ON: You seem to prefer Laeliocattleya but you have also made Sophrolaliocattleya, such as, for example, the Slc. Bela Otero...

Slc. Bela Otero

RA: This is a cross of C. Ralph Chambers with Slc. Lindores, which gave plants with dark flowers with good shape and intense coloring lip where you can noticed the predominance of the Slc. Lindores.


Another important hybrids by Rolf Altenburg/Florália

Lc. Rolf Altenburg
Lc. Kunta Kinte
Blc. Enid Moore
Foto/Photo: Sergio Araujo
Lc. João Antonio Nicoli
Blc. Roberto Cardoso



- Catálogo Orquídeas - l961/l962
- Catálogo Florália nº 11 - l969/1970
- Catálogo Florália nº 12, - 1970/1971
- Orchids - Catalogue l971/l972
- Orchids by Floralia, Fevereiro l981



All the photos by Rolf Altenburg, with exception of: C. Sonia Altenburg, Bc. Turandot ' Guaxupé ', Blc. Light del Fuego, Lc. Doña Sun and Lc. João Antonio Nicoli by Sergio Araujo.
The photos by Rolf Altenburg (positive) were submitted to a digital cleanness, what it will be able to have, eventually, modified a little the original colors.

We thanks Sandra Odebrecht for lending us the Floralia's catalogues and Rolf's photos.


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