Some considerations about Venezuelan unifoliate Cattleya

by Jan Pahl, Gerardo Castiglione and Rafael Vaamonde


Introduction

Venezuela is a well-represented country inside genus Cattleya, subgenus Cattleya, a group of orchids that we often rename as unifoliate Cattleya. Venezuela has 6 of the 20-21 recognized species, 5 endemic, and 1 almost completely endemic. Only Colombia matches Venezuela in the number of large species inside this subgenera.

Genetic evidence show us that unifoliates, bifoliates Cattleyas and Brassavolas are indeed closely-related groups, and that Cattleya derived quite recently from a single Brassavola-like species that had the chance to cross the prehistoric oceanic gap between Central and South America. In which it found new ecological niches, evolving into a kind of Proto-Cattleya, which was the common ancestor to the two related Cattleya groups we have today.

As we said, both Cattleya groups recently evolved from a common ancestor, and species beneath each group are even more recent in history, one that, if taking into account present unifoliate species, possibly started on the remaining archaic unifoliate populations from past diseminations that occurred during the global climatic changes in the previous glacial and interglacial eras in late Pleistocene.

Colonization with posterior isolations are even occurring today, a feature that is evident between the two mayor and not completely continuous populations of Cattleya dowiana from Colombia/south-Panama (Cattleya dowiana ssp aurea), and Costa Rica/north-Panama. (Cattleya dowiana ssp dowiana), or between the two isolated populations Cattleya labiata in Brazil. Those quite recent diseminations, along with posterior ecological and geographic isolation, are responsible for the richness of the species we see today in wild populations of unifoliates found even outside the northern Andean initial cradle.

Taking this into consideration, there is no wonder in why almost all large unifoliates share more similarities than differences, genetically and anatomically speaking, but there is no need to have clear stable differences to assume speciation has actually occurred, clear stable differences is a luxury that only old, well-established genera or subgenera have.

Venezuelan Unifoliates, like the majority of their sisters, prefer to inhabit mountain ranges from the low land slopes and hills, up to altitudes of almost 2000 meters above sea level where they are exposed to elements. We can find a species adapted to almost any of the fore mentioned circumstances, inhabiting almost every mayor mountainous range from the Andean region, to the Coastal range, and from the Costal range, to the Turimiquire range, and from there, to the highlands of the Guayana plateau. Only the Perijá range, located in the western border with Colombia, lacks her own indigenous species, an unsolved mystery considering that Perijá has almost all of the preferred conditions this subgenus exhibits.



Cattleya lueddemanniana Rchb. f. 1854


C. lueddemanniana ´María Gabiela´ x ´Maruja´

Cattleya lueddemanniana
is one of the easiest unifoliates to recognize from similar species and possible primary hybrids, is also one of the best shaped Cattleya from Venezuela. The flower column is enclosed by the lip in a distinctive way that forms two noticeable side-lobes where ocular yellow spots are located on each side, with very few exceptions found on some rare cegatas. The flower’s lip is normally flat and rounded, with noticeable frilled edges. With the exception of Albas, they have amethyst-purple markings that run without interruption from the inner part of the tube, reaching the frontal spot of the labellum. They also have a particular flower-column with a bi-horned well-developed anther that is very easy to notice, especially when compared with the more "hook-like" anther of other unifoliates, only very few exceptions, many of them candidates for possible natural hybrids, have partially developed ones.
Cattleya lueddemanniana inhabits two different types of habitat. The first one is the lowland xemi-xerophytic, deciduous, and semi-deciduous, lowland forests in the Caribbean facing slopes of the "Cordillera de la Costa" range. Located in the northernmost part of this range, between a confined band of altitudes that range from 50/100 meters above sea level, to 500 meters above sea level (maybe more in some places), where the interaction of the mountain range with the proximity of the sea some humidity is provided even in the dry season. In the western part of the "Cordillera de la Costa", the species moves inland to the lowland forests of the Yaracuy depression, at the end of this natural depression, the species reaches the second type of habitat, the foot hills of "Los Andes" range, in an area confined by Carora depression (west), Mirimire valley (North) and Andes range (south), in this place, C. lueddemanniana is present at higher altitudes, between 400 and 700 meters above sea level, in open xerophytic, xemi-xerophytic, and deciduous forests created by the orographic shadow of the Andes range, in a type of forests manly composed by small trees, thorny bushes and columnar cactuses.
Since it inhabits two different types of habitat, the species has two distinctive populations with unique adaptations to endure different ecological needs, and for that same reasons, the species forms two different biotypes, with a transition population located on the Yaracuy depression. This transition population has intermediate characteristics, and forms a natural cline between both continuous populations. Since this transition biotype is located in a very large and representative area (central Yaracuy and north-west Carabobo state), continuity between populations ensure genetic flow, some collectors and growers do not consider each distinctive population as clearly separated subspecies.
The coastal biotype forms large colonies in small to medium sized trees, it somehow has more coriaceous leaves than the typical Cattleya, due to that lueddemanniana colonies remain at least partially unprotected from direct sunlight when trees lose their leaves since in the cooler months of the dry season. Plants remain well protected in the warmer rainy season, when trees have leaves.
Normally coastal Cattleya lueddemanniana has big flowers that can reach 16-18 centimeters, or even more in exceptional cultivars, almost all are light colored (suaves and suavissimas). They also have a wide, normally very frilled labellum with very light, almost washed yellow ocular spots, more cream colored than real yellow. The frontal spot of the lip is normally sprinkled, many of them by hundreds of small amethyst-purple points, or has rather small purple blotches surrounded by sprinkled edges. Some plants are known to have petals and sepals with very light color, sometimes splashed (aquinii), with the lip´s spot completely solid and velvety up to the throat, with very intense yellow colored ocular spots, sometimes masked by the purple spot, these clones are known as “solid lip”. Also, it’s well-known that almost all of the albas, semialbas and all caeruleas come from this area. Normally the best shaped lueddemannianas come from this biotype; even today some wild collected plants could reach show standards.

Cattleya lueddemanniana
´Oscura´
Xerophytic biotype lueddemanniana tolerate a longer dry season, more heat, and less humidity, than coastal Cattleya lueddemanniana, it forms large colonies in medium to small sized trees and thorny bushes, even exposed to full sun on columnar cactuses. In Venezuela this biotype is known as “Larense biotype” because the main population occur inside Lara state.
The xerophytic biotype has even more coriaceous leaves than the coastal byotipe, more burgundy spots, especially in new growths, and to endure dryer and warmer conditions the overall vegetative aspects of the plant tend to be more notorious in special adaptations. Normally, xerophytic C. lueddemanniana have medium to small-sized flowers (11 to 16 cm). This biotype has narrow petals and erect "shoulders", making the coastal biotype in terms of shape and size far beyond better than the xerophytic biotype. But this biotype is appreciated for other goods, in terms of coloration the xerophytic biotype has very intense colored flowers (roseas, purpureas and rubras), this means xerophytic lueddemannianas have a very desirable genetic stock that holds the most intense colors of the unifoliate Cattleyas. The labellum of this biotype tends to be rather small and not so well shaped, normally the amethyst purple blotch in the labellum is not solid, but very densely striated or veined and very dark. Colors are very intense to almost iridescent, and the ocular yellow spots tend to be bright colored (canary yellow).
The flowering season begins in November and ends in March, with a peak in February that can vary somehow in cultivation due to cultural and climatic factors, such as lack of resting period, or because of cooler conditions. Given this, the cultivated C. lueddemanniana can flower a second time in the year, normally between August and September. In the wild they remain dormant for several months but in cultivation they don’t have a well-defined rest period. Flowers develop from a green single sheath, rarely without, or from old dry ones. 2 to 4 flowers grow from every spike. Exceptionally, some cultivars can reach up to 5 flowers.
Is difficult to write about how a C. lueddemanniana should look in cultivation, we can only say that the desired goal for many commercial breeders, is to succeed in the best combination from each mayor biotype, in other words, something that could look exactly alike an enhanced flower from the transition zone, with shape, size, and lip pattern, similar to a coastal lueddemanniana, and the bright deep color intensity of the xerophytic C. lueddemanniana.
Some outstanding clones are:
- coastal type: ´Maruja´, ´Haydé´, ´Calex´;
- solid lip clones: ´Tibisay´, ´Francis´, ´Centellas´;
- xerophytic type: ´Yamilé´, ´Cecilia´, ´Morella´,
- alba: ´Morocha´, ´Candia´,
- semialba: ´Mamacita´, ´Isabel Nataly´, ´Stanley´s´, ´Orquilara´;
- caerulea: ´Mariauxi´, ´Siquisique´, ´Francisco´, ´Amparo´.


Cattleya lueddemanniana ´Maruja´

Cattleya lueddemanniana ´Centellas´


Cattleya lueddemanniana alba
´Candelaria´ x (´Morocha´x ´Paola´)

Cattleya lueddemanniana semi-alba
´Isabel Nataly´

Cattleya lueddemanniana caerulea ´Mariauxi´



Cattleya mossiae Hooker. 1838


Cattleya mossiae ´Carlo Aulisi´ x self
C. mossiae is an outstanding species which is easy to recognize. Two features that make this species unique are: A broad lip which is very crisped and veined and broad petals which tend to fall. These characteristics may be present in some degree in wild plants as well as in cultivated plants. Despite its flower shape (which is not the best of all the Venezuelan cattleyas), the C. mossiae was declared in 1951 Venezuela’s national flower. The reasons that prevailed to select C. mossiae over other Venezuelan cattleyas were: this specie lives near some of the most populated areas in Venezuela; its blooming season peak during the Easter Holidays and Mother’s day; plenty of flowers are produced that last up to four weeks.
C. mossiae is endemic to Venezuela. It grows in a wide area along a mountain range called Cordillera de la Costa, either on the northern facing slopes or the southern facing slopes.
It can also be found growing on all the south-facing slopes of the Venezuelan Andes. It prefers to grow in semi-deciduous to rain forest, from 800 to 1500 meters above sea level. The Cordillera de la Costa is a mountain range which extends from the eastern part of Miranda State (near Caracas) to the western part of Yaracuy State. C. mossiae reappears again near the Bordering States of Lara and Portuguesa, and it extends along the Andes Mountains up to Táchira State, near the Colombian border, where the Táchira depression establishes a natural barrier.
C. mossiae
grows especially on large open trees like Bucares (Erythrina sp), Ingas, and Ceibas. It prefers to grow in the upper branches, forming large colonies, and protected from direct sunlight. It is also possible to find them growing on rocks, where the surrounding vegetation protects them from direct sunlight. C. mossiae normally grows near rivers or creeks which provide them with enough humidity to survive the dry seasons.

Cattleya mossiae caerulea ´San Luis´
This means that C. mossiae prefers the temperate conditions which predominate in these mountain ranges.
Despite the widespread area of distribution, C. mossiae does not have well differentiated ecotypes, biotypes or subspecies. Only slight differences can be found between plants inside the mossiae complex. One of these differences is the blooming season between the Andes and the Coastal population. Plants from the Andes Mountains start their blooming season in early February, peak in March, and end by mid May. Plants from the Coastal range start to bloom in late April, peak in late May and ends in early July. C. mossiae flowers have a broad color range and the way that colors are mixed in the lip are countless. These color variations could be masking differences between Andean and coastal populations, or even semi-deciduous from cloudy forest populations.
After the blooming season is over, the plant forms new leads which are completely developed by early August. Then in mid august, it rests 4 to 8 months. In many cases, the resting period ends when second lead grows from the previous one. Usually this happens in November or December. From January to May, growths from the previous year form buds inside a single sheath, which could be either dry or green. The first growth usually blooms from a dry sheath, and the second growth from a green one. On the average both growths will bloom at the same time, but it is also possible that they will bloom at different dates, up to 3 months in difference.
A single spike can carry from 2 to 7 flowers. Usually the flowers measure more than 16 cm. in diameter. Some cultivars can easily reach up to 20 cm in diameter. That’s why large plants in full bloom of C. mossiae make a striking view either in the wild or in cultivation.
Cattleya mossiae ´Chispa´
The color range in flowers of C. mossiae normally is limited to light colored tones (roseas, suaves and suavissimas). Dark colored flowers of the purpurea or rubra type have never been collected in the wild. The trade mark of C mossiae’s lipcolors are: reds, ochers and intense canary yellows tones that intensify other colors in the lip. The purple blotch in the lip could be solid, striated, variegated or veined (striata, variegata and venosa) except in the alba form where only yellow is present There also exist alba, semialba, concolor and caerulea varieties.
Some well-known clones are:
color: ´Natalia´, ´J.H. Patterson´, ´Canoabo´,
semialba: ´Aurora´, ´Blanca´, ´Featherston´, ´Julieta´,
alba: ´Barroeta´, ´Crusizio´,
caerulea: ´Macayra´, ´Ayala´, ´María T.´, ´Lizette´.
C. mossiae rarely interbreeds with C. percivaliana in the Andean mountains, forming the natural hybrid known as Catteya xperegrine. This natural hybrid does not present the better visual aspects of its parents, and consequently rarely taken into consideration. Thus little is known about it. C xperegrine occur in the rainy forest of the Trujillo state and the Lara-Trujillo border, where both parental species overlap.

Cattleya mossiae semialba ´Patrizia´
In some places in Lara and Yaracuy States, wild populations of C. mossiae and C. lueddemanniana overlap forming the natural hybrid C. xgravesiana. This natural hybrid seems to be more common in the wild than C. xperegrine. There are no large introgression populations like the ones that we can find between species like Guarianthe skinneri and G. aurantiaca (Guarianthe xguatemalensis). Only small introgressive populations between C. mossiae and C. lueddemanniana have been found in very few places Also, there are few wild-collected plants of C. lueddemanniana or C. mossiae in cultivation that are examples of mistaken identities, for example, C. lueddemanniana s/a “Caracas” is a true C. xgravesiana collected from the wild.
Large populations of C. mossiae still remain in the wild, especially in some parts of the Andes Mountains. But deforestation and predation of this species, even inside protected areas, puts this species in great risk of
extinction. In a few decades Cattleya mossiae could be as scarce as C. lueddemanniana and C. gaskelliana are today.

C. mossiae alba 'Barroeta'
C. mossiae semi-alba aquinada 'Llamarada'.
C. mossiae semi-alba Featherston x self



Cattleya percivaliana O´Brien. 1883

Cattleya percivaliana is a lovely species endemic to the Venezuelan Andes located in the Trujillo state. Unlike other labiate Cattleyas, C. percivaliana prefers to grow on rocky cliffs or small trees from 1400 - 2000 meters. Morning mist and specially creeks near the cliffs, provides the moisture needed by this species to grow exposed to direct sunlight and strong winds.
C. percivaliana
often grows associated with vegetation (ferns, mosses, likens, grass, small shrubs), so they never suffer from dehydration.
C. percivaliana
is also adapted to grow on rainy forests, many healthy colonies occur on this type of habitat.

C. percivaliana is not distributed over a wide area, if we consider the orography of the Andes, the average height of land is quite higher than the maximum height tolerated by this species, so population continuity is not possible and the species is isolated at the northernmost part of the Venezuelan Andes, near the Carora depression.
Cattleya percivaliana ´Morena´
Some authors consider that C. percivaliana grows on the south facing hills of the Venezuelan Andes, located in the states of Mérida and Táchira, but this is not true. On these hills only grows C. mossiae. There are few reports claiming that C. percivaliana also grows in the border of Norte de Santander state, Colombia, but since there is a natural bond between Venezuela’s Andean people and Colombia, it is not uncommon to see C. mendelii and C. percivaliana at both sides of the border.
C. percivaliana is the smallest of all large unifoliate, only in terms of flower size. Flowers in wild plants normally measure 11 to 12 cm. There is a variety known as grandiflora (large sized percivaliana), not common, that has become a standard for cultivated plants. Flowers in C. percivaliana var. grandiflora can measure 15-18 cm. The plant size of this species is similar to other labiate Cattleya type. Usually a spike can carry 2 to 4 flowers.
In late February, while other Venezuelan cattleyas are preparing to bloom, C. percivaliana awakes from a five month rest period. The new stems are ready to bloom from a green sheath in late August, but in many cases the buds can be formed any time from August through November. In the Venezuelan Andes, it is not unusual to see cultivated plants blooming all year round. C. percivaliana only blooms once per year but many cultural factors can change the normal blooming season. There is not a second growth like in C. mossiae.

Cattleya percivaliana ´Enrique Jr.´ x ´Summit´
Two characteristic makes C. percivaliana unique within the genus, and easy to be recognized while in bloom. The first one, and maybe the most significant, is their scent like a recently cut grass that can be considered as not pleasant, and also, the flower shape that many plants found in the wild have, it can be considered as almost perfect for Orchid Judgment. The well-shaped flowers are very round, well presented, and symmetrical. Petals in many cases present overlapping, and good substance. The lip is small, frilled and has a solid purple blotch that could vary in size and shape. There is no evidence of striatas and venosas within the species, only very few aquini and variegate clons have been found. C. percivaliana has a lip with amazing mixed colors that no other large Cattleya can produce.
There is a wide variety of art-shade colors present in the lip, between the most beautiful we can mention brown chocolate, guava, orange, red
apple and Spanish gold among others. The type variety has a purple color that can vary from medium to very dark (variegate clons); alba, albescens, semialba and caerulea clons are also known, but true concolor or delicata forms exist.
Some famous clons are:
- type: ´Summit´, ´Karen´, ´Primavera´, ´Albert´s´,
- semialba: ´Carache´, ´Sonia de Urbano´,
- alba: ´Oro Cochano´, ´La Puerta´, ´Quintero´,
- caerulea: ´Ondine´.
We want to point out that the semialba plants known as ¨Farah Diva´, ´Jewel´ and ´Carache´ come from an unique and hudge plant property of the late Mr. Rafaelito Cañizales who lived in Carache, a small town in Trujillo state, Venezuela.
C. percivaliana ('Sonia' x self)
Cattleya percivaliana semialba ´Sucre´ x ´Sonia´


Cattleya gaskelliana Rchb. f. 1883


Cattleya gaskelliana caerulea ´Divina´
One of least widespread of all the Venezuelan Cattleyas is the Cattleya gaskelliana. It thrives only in a small area in the northeast of Venezuela, called the Turimiquire range. This small mountain range is located at the confluence of 3 bordering States (Monagas, Sucre and Anzoátegui). Like the C. mossiae, C. gaskelliana grows best in altitudes that range from 800 to 1500 meters above sea level. It grows in semideciduous to ever green temperate forests, on medium to large sized trees. In the Turimiquire range, rain or morning mist is present all year round.
Large populations of gaskelliana’s occur in the cloudy forests near the border of Monagas and Sucre States. Another population thrives in the northeastern border of Anzoátegui State, in a small area called Nuevo Mundo. Nuevo Mundo has a semideciduous forest, where C. gaskelliana can be found growing either on trees or rocks, forming large colonies.
Some authors consider that the population of C. gaskelliana from Nuevo Mundo is a different ecotype than those found in Monagas and Sucre State. The Nuevo Mundo ecotype is characterized by small sized pseudobulbs, and darker flower colors.
Some authors believe that this species can be found growing in Araya and Paria peninsulas, also in the Islands of Margarita and Trinidad. But many explorations have proven that no suitable habitats exist in these areas. Some reports from these areas are usually mistaken, as the possible sightings of this species always occurred in abandoned gardens and, in many cases, they were not even gaskelliana’s.

C. gaskelliana has erect and broad leaves, and normally produces new growths in late December. These new growths are ready to bloom from April through July, without a resting period. The buds always form inside a very broad single green sheath. Plants in cultivation can bloom twice a year although a second flowering season is not well defined. The Cattleya gaskelliana’s flowers usually lack substance; they don’t have upright petals, and are usually narrow. Generally, it has a thick column which displays two lateral tops that stand out from the anther. On the average, flower colors can range from suavissimas to suaves. The lip´s purple blotch is quite variable, specially in color intensity and size, usually triangular and almost ever mixes with the yellow color and the brown-orange veinings that come from the bottom of the throat. The frontal part of the tube normally shows cream or white tones, but since light flowers are usual in this species, this feature is not always quite evident. It´s relatively easy to find alba, semialba, concolor and caerulea varieties, but it´s difficult to find dark colored flowers.

Cattleya gaskelliana semialba
´Calex´ AM-AOS
Some famous clones are:
- color: ´Elena´, ´Black Tiger´, ´Carmen´,
- semialba: ´Calex´, ´Nuria´, ´Red Flame´,
- alba: ´White Heritage´, ´Schnee´, ´Sara´,
- caerulea: ´Blue Dragon´, ´Drago´, ´Aida´, ´Mimí´.



  Cattleya jenmanii Rolfe 1906

Cattleya jenmanii was described originally by Rolfe in the 1906 Kew Bulletin, never again seen until G.C.K. Dunsterville rediscovered it in 1969 from some plants that came from the southeastern portion of Bolívar State. This beautiful Cattleya shares her habitat with C. lawrenceana in the Guayana plateau, Venezuela. This species can be found growing near the Venezuelan-Brazilian-Guyanan border (Roraima plateau), between upper Caura river (state of Bolívar, Venezuela) and Roraima (at the Venezuelan-Guyanan borderline). Large populations of C. jenmanii occur following the Venezuelan-Guyanan borderline, between the 5º and 6º paralells. This species is endemic to Venezuela, however, if we consider that the Guyana plateau is a very big unexplored area, there is a chance that populations of this species could be found in Brazil (there are few unconfirmed sightings), or in Guyana, always near the Venezuelan border. However C. jenmanii has not been reported growing outside Venezuela.
This species grows in a humid temperate area known as La Gran Sabana, with altitudes that range from 800 to 1200 meters above sea level. In this area, grasslands are predominant so, C. jenmanii only grows in the few forests that have successfully survived despite the low Ph and sandy soil conditions. It can also be found growing exposed to direct sunlight, in crevices or in the rocky cliffs called Tepuys (Tablelands). For some reasons introgressive populations between C. jenmanii and Cattleya lawrenceana have not been reported although populations of both species overlap in nature. We know of two collected plants of this natural hybrid whose name has not been registered yet. Two have been proposed: C. xgransabanensis and C. xcanaima. The shape of the flower is similar to an average C. jenmanii but with a lip very similar to a big C. lawrenceana.
Cattleya jenmanii ´Marie-Anne´
The leaves of C. jenmanii are erect and narrow, with an elliptical shape that reminds us the leaves of C. mossiae, although they sometimes present a purple tone in the back; and, they always present a single sheath, a characteristic that gives us a first clue to help us differentiate her from Cattleya labiata.
Cattleya jenmanii semialba ´A.M.C.´ x self
The flowers have a very sweet scent, with 12 to 17 cm in diameter, erect and elegant, but generally with petals and sepals quite thin. The pattern of color of the lip is very similar to Cattleya labiata, being sometimes very difficult to differentiate them. The throat is yellow with brown-orange veinings towards the bottom, the borders are delicately waved, rosy-purple with the characteristics white “eyes” on each side. The purple blotch can be just lineata, estriata or completely solid. Like in C. gaskelliana, the buds start to grow inside the sheath before the new growth is completely formed.
C. jenmanii has a predominant blomming season from February to April, with a second period between September and October. It is a relatively new species in cultivation and few quality clones are known. The color variety has a rose-purple coloring that can vary from quite clear (suaves) to very dark (rubras); alba, semialba, concolor, delicatas and caerulea clones are also known.

C. jenmanii 'Rubra'
The best known clones are:
- type: ´Rubra´, ´Gran Sabana´, ´Carlos Castro´;
- semialba: ´Armando Mantellini´.


C. jenmanii ('Carlos Castro' x self)



Cattleya lawrenceana Rchb. f. 1885



Cattleya lawrenceana
concolor
´Luz de Luna´
One of the most atypical unifoliates of the Cattleya genera is the C. lawrenceana, the pseudobulbs are among de biggest of the genera. Plants usually have pseudobulbs with a very distinctive redish pigmentation, leaves also display a profusion of burgundy and maroon spots specially those that are subject to direct sunlight. Flowers are easy to recognize as they are medium sized, have a tubular labelum with a disc shaped fringeless lip. Petals and sepals are usually narrow, flowers have a greater resemblance to large Sophronitis like S. purputata, tenebrosa, grandis or lobata than to the other unifoliate cattleyas.
In the Guayana Plateau the Cattleya lawrenceana has a very wide and uneven area of distribution, specially inside Bolívar State as populations always follows mayor rivers and table mountains formations called Tepuys wich are distant from each other. One main population is located in the Amazonas state (Sipapo Hill), and the others are located unevenly on Roraima, Auyán-tepuy, Kukenán, Chimata tepuys; High Caroní, Carrao, Aponwao and Cuchivero rivers, also in Kamara-ta Valley and Kanavayén area in Bolívar State. The species is also found in large quantities at the Guyana side of Roraima. It also has been reported growing on the Brazilian side, although confirmed only by few sightings.
Since this species is quite adaptable and has a very wide distribution, chances are that Cattleya lawrenceana has more probabilities than the Cattleya jenmanii to be found growing in other regions than the known locations in Venezuela, Brazil, and Guyana.
Cattleya lawrenceana
grows from lowlands (400 meters above sea level) up to altitudes of 1900 meters above sea level. In it´s natural habitats, it is a quite adaptable orchid growing on medium to large-sized trees in humid shadowy forest ranging from warm to temperate and cool humid forests. At high altitudes colonies adapt themselves to more open spaces, growing on cliffs exposed to full sunlight, with the exception of some protection found from surrounding vegetation. This particular area is very humid all year round, so C. lawrenceana (like C. jenmanii), even if they have to overcome the “dry season”, they always have the benefits of high humidity, mist and occasional showers, but since it is found growing on well vetilated spots, it suggests that they don’t stay wet for long periods of time. In cultivation C. lawrenceana is recognized to be difficult plant to grow.

In the wild C. lawrenceana flowering season is from February to April. Like in many Cattleyas flowers arise from a pseudobulb that has rested for several months, 2 to 8 medium-sized rich rose-magenta flowers is the most common. Some cultivars might have even more flowers per spike (up to 12 in known multifloras), but that’s quite rare.
C. lawrenceana doesn’t have the ample lip color-pattern variation that other Venezuelan unifoliates have. All lawrenceanas have completely solid purple-magenta lips that could reach the external part of the tube, except for concolor and semialbas which have rosy lips. Some cultivars have aquinations on the petals (aquinii or flamea). This lack of lip pattern variability is highly compensated by the intensity of the color in the lip and the brilliant colors of the tepals, for example, deep colored caeruleas are amongst the most intense blues found in the Cattleya genus. Very few color varieties are known, some of them are semialba: ´Sara´, alba: ´Misia María´, concolor: ´Diana´, caerulea: ´Aulisi´.




C. lawrenceana alba 'Misia María'




Authors and plants' owners:
Jan Pahl, orchidologist
Gerardo Castiglione is judge in orchid shows and founder member of the Mérida Orchid Society.
Rafael Vaamonde is member of the Venezuelan orchidology association, and responsible for the English version.
The awarded plants showed here are from Gerardo Castiglione and Armando Mantellini private collection's. Armando Mantellini is one of the few Venezuelan pioneer growers responsible for the genetic melioration of the Venezuelan species and the Gerardo Castiglione's Cattleya collection is very well-know among Venezuelan orchidologists.

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