Sergio Englert is an agronomic engineer, graduated by the
Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul and he is master
of science by the Wisconsin University, USA.
With 50 years of experience in cultivating orchids, he has
been, for many times, president of the local society (Círculo
Gaúcho de Orquidófilo).
Since l980, he keeps his nursery (Orquidário Ricsel)
and has already participated in many national and international
orchid shows (Argentina, New Zealand, Japan, Canada and
United States) and also gave lectures about the native orchids
of his home state.
He also published a book about cultivating orchids and bromeliads
(Manual Prático de Cultivo – Orquídeas
e Bromélias) already in its second edition.
Sergio Englert is part of the history of the genetic improvement
of species in Brazil and, specially, in the state of Rio Grande
do Sul mainly with Cattleya intermedia with excellent
He has many thing to tell us.
ON: Sergio, Orchid News intends to tell a little about the
history of hybridization and improvement of species in Brazil, since
the beginning and under the point of view of those who have wrote
it. In our first interview, with Álvaro Pessoa, you were
one of the person mentioned as an agent of this history. But, before
starting, could you tell us how do you started in orchidophilia?
SE: I started when I was 15 years old (so 50 years
ago) visiting orchid shows of the local orchid society (Circulo
Gaúcho de Orquidófilos) to which I became associate.
As a boy scout, I collected and observed the orchids in the fig
trees under what we camped.
At the beginning of the 80s I started to trade orchids seedlings
and established Ricsel Orchids.
ON: Could you give us your point of view, since you also
are the agent and the witness? I mean, what could you tell us about
the history of hybridization and improvements of species in Rio
Grande do Sul?
SE: One of the pioneers, in the 60s, was Dr. Walter
Haetinger. He crossed many varieties of Laelia purpurata
coming from the nature and obtained, after 30 years of improvements,
excellent varieties of Laelia purpurata such as flamea,
sanguinea, carnea, alba and russeliana.
From the Laelia purpurata flamea by Haetinger came
those we have today, many of them were crossed with the famous Laelia
purpurata ‘Milionária’ (This one which has
been exchanged by a zero km car by Honório Trombini).
Dr. Haetinger has also been the pioneer in the improvement of Cattleya
purpurata flamea 'Sergio Englert'
ON: What does it mean, a zero kilometer car for a plant?
It really was worth so much?
SE: In the 70's decade, Mr. Honório Trombini
got a division of a Laelia purpurata type discovered in
the district of Torres, state of Rio Grande do Sul.
When Mr. Arno Kunz, an industrialist of Novo Hamburgo city, saw
the plant blooming in Trombini's nursery, offered him a zero kilometer
car in exchanged of the whole plant. Trombini accepted.
The flower of Laelia purpurata ‘Milionária’
besides to have a coriaceous texture petals, was well set (wide
opened petals) and had good width sepals. Probably it was a tetraploid
plant which usually transmitted the characteristics to the progeny.
ON: It returns to the gold age of the orchidophilia, when
great collectors formed a very special class. Nowadays, with the
modern methods of reproduction, there is no possibility of existing
an unique plant like that or is it possible?
SE: The gold age of orchidophilia still exists
because I know collectors who do not sell your rare species or,
if they do, they ask for really high prices. I have already exported
plants which cost 3.000 U$ each.
In Rio Grande do Sul there are great collectors of Laelia purpurata
and Cattleya intermedia, such as, for example, Mr. Otto
Georg, Mr. Luis Petersen, Mr. Anselmo Menna Hoff and many others.
The methods of reproduction and sowing are nowadays technically
much more developed but Mendel's law of genetic stay the same and
sometimes, there is just one exceptional plant in a cross.
In the last Cattleya intermedia National Orchid Show in
Gramado (Rio Grande do Sul), we had the chance to see a Cattleya
intermedia type much superior than all we have ever seen.
ON: Which is the history of Cattleya intermedia var
SE: Cattleya intermedia var. aquinii has
been discovered at the en of the 19th century (1891) in the surroundings
of Porto Alegre by Mr. Francisco de Aquino and, in his homage, it
has been described with the name aquinii.
ON: Is it true that this unique plant gave origin to the others
and any other has been discovered after that in the nature?
SE: Just two plants have been discovered in the nature:
"aquinii #1" and "aquinii #2". There is no register
for any other.
And what about the reason of its intense use in crosses
SE: It is a plant that is intensively used in the world
for Cattleya hybrids because it transmits the 'aquinii'
or 'peloric' form to the progeny.
has been often used to improve Cattleya intermedia
flamea and peloric.
Through its crosses with Cattleya intermedia roxo-violeta
or amethyst, it was obtained the first Cattleya intermedia
flamea roxo-violeta or amethyst, that have never been discovered
in the nature.
back to the orchid improvement, which is your role in this history?
Do you think that those varieties obtained from the crosses
should have a particular epithet or should be named as 'varieties'
like those found in the nature?
To answer your question, we should explain that there are
two kinds of varieties.
The botanical varieties are those described by botanists,
in botanical works. An example of this is Cattleya intermedia
var. aquinii. On the other hand, the horticultural
varieties do not have any botanical value and are appreciated
just by the orchidists such as, for example, a Cattleya
intermedia flamea amethyst ‘Dona Lila’
or Laelia tenebrosa ‘ Marilene’ (Laelia
tenebrosa ‘Seleção’ x Laelia
In theory, there is not a flower just equal to another,
so every one would be a horticultural variety but just the
best would have a special name.
SE: In 1991, we crossed Cattleya intermedia
sanguinea with Cattleya intermedia flamea ‘Sangue
de Boi’ by Haetinger, that originated excellent flamea,
we also crossed Cattleya intermedia flamea ‘Sangue
de Boi’ with Cattleya intermedia flamea amethyst
‘Dona Lila’, both descendents of Cattleya intermedia
flamea var. aquinii. Besides those crosses, we did the
list bellow and all crossed resulted in excellent varieties: type,
wine color, alba, as well as flamea-wine and flamea purple-violet,
besides orlata and orlata purple-violet as well as marginata and
Year of 1985:
Cattleya intermedia frezina ‘do Tito’ x C.
intermedia aquinii frezina
C. intermedia alba ‘Haetinger’ x C. intermedia
semi-alba ‘do Osvino’
C. intermedia venosa ‘do Heitor’ x C. intermedia
venosa ‘do Sergio’
Year of 1986:
C. intermedia tipo ‘Santo Antonio’ x C.
intermedia 'Pintada do Tenente’
C. intermedia tipo ‘Santo Antonio’ x autofecundada
C. intermedia aquinii vinho x C. intermedia aquinii frezina
C. intermedia venosa ‘do Heitor’ x C. intermedia
C. intermedia rubra ‘Trombini’ x C. intermedia
C. intermedia alba ‘Dutra’ x C. intermedia
semi-alba ‘do Osvino’
C. intermedia alba ‘Ivo Jacques’ x C. intermedia
C. intermedia multiforme ‘do Nestor’ x C.
intermedia tipo ‘S-4’
C. intermedia aquinii vinho ‘de Marchi’ x C.
intermedia roxo-violeta ‘Montenegro’
Year of 1987:
Cattleya intermedia aquinii #1 x C. intermedia
C. intermedia aquinii #1 x C. intermedia ametista
C. intermedia aquinii vinho ‘Bolinha’ x C.
intermedia aquinii #1
C. intermedia venosa ‘do Heitor’ x C. intermedia
tipo ‘Santo Antonio’
Year of 1990:
Cattleya intermedia orlata ‘orlatão’
x C. intermedia orlata ‘orlatinha’ (which originated
excellent types, orlata and marginata).
Year of 1992:
Cattleya intermedia flâmea (Cecília x Sauthier)
x C. intermedia roxo-violeta ‘Pretinha’
C. intermedia vinho ‘#2’ x C. intermedia
Year of 2000:
Cattleya intermedia flâmea roxo-violeta x C.
intermedia marginata roxo-violeta
So it is more than 20 years working with Cattleya intermedia.
Which cross or crosses you consider as your 'masterpiece'?
SE: I consider as the best Cattleya intermedia orlata ‘Ennio’
x Cattleya intermedia marginata ‘Vera’ (see
bellow, Cattleya intermedia orlata) and
Cattleya intermedia orlata ‘Orlatão’
x Cattleya intermedia orlata ‘Orlatinha’
Cattleya intermedia orlata
Still talking about Cattleya intermedia, do you agree that
the plants occurring in the states of São Paulo and Rio de
Janeiro would be, in fact, another species, different from those
who vegetate in Rio Grande do Sul? Which would be the basic difference
intermedia occurs in the states of Rio de Janeiro, São
Paulo, Santa Catarina and Rio Grande do Sul. In fact it is believed
that the geographical dispersion happened from the state of Rio
Janeiro to the south. While the plants migrated from the Atlantic
Forest to the South, they improving the qualities of the flowers
(bigger, better set), finishing this work of the nature in the extreme
of Rio Grande do Sul in the ecological reserve of Taim swamp.
ON: Who also could you mention in your state?
SE: We can mention Mr. Aldomar Sander, who started at the beginning
of the 80s, with the famous cross S-4 which resulted in excellent
Cattleya intermedia type, orlata and marginata, between
them the orlata ‘Ennio’ and the marginata ‘Vera’.
Crossing those two plants, in 1992, we also obtained excellent plants
type, orlata and marginata.
Which is your speciality besides Cattleya intermedia?
SE: I like very much Cattleya leopoldii and the
crosses I did resulted in excellent type of better form
I also like to cross Cattleya leopoldii x Laelia
purpurata to obtain Laeliocattleya elegans,
a natural hybrid.
also did many crosses to improve Laelia purpurata
as well Laelia tenebrosa which gave origin to
the famous Laelia tenebrosa ‘Marilene’,
my wife's name.
Which would be the crosses that stood out at a national
SE: And why not international level, since
I have been exporting for the last 20 years.
I consider the follow as the best:
Cattleya labiata alba ‘Angerer’ x Cattleya
labiata roxo bispo ‘Urbano’ (1992)
Cattleya labiata caerulea ‘Panelas’
x Cattleya labiata roxo bispo ‘Urbano’
Laelia purpurata flamea ‘Evelyn’ x
Laelia purpurata ‘Milionária’
Cattleya leopoldii ‘Dona Lucia’ x Brassavola
tuberculata ‘General Osório’ (Natural
hybrid called Bc tramandaí, 1993)
Cattleya leopoldii ‘Tessadri’ x
Cattleya leopoldii ‘Gilberto Rohde’ (The
photo of Cattleya leopoldii bellow shows the results
of this crossed done in 1991)
Laelia tenebrosa ‘Seleção’
x Laelia tenebrosa ‘Chocolate' (the photo
of Laelia tenebrosa 'Marilene' bellow shows the
result of the this crossed done in 1996).
Laelia purpurata flamea ‘Evelyn’
leopoldii ‘Tessadri’ x Cattleya leopoldii
ON: And what about the photo register of those plants?
SE: I don't have many because I sell the seedlings and as the
quantity is limited, they are sold before I can see the flower
in my nursery. I had the testimony of my clients telling about
the plants they bought and were awarded in the orchid shows. For
example, the crosses of Cattleya labiata I don't have
a photo because I sold every seedling before blooming. But those
two crosses resulted into a great quantity of high quality awarded
ON: What you are looking for when you invest in a genetic
improvement of a species?
SE: When an orchidist talks about orchid genetic improvement,
he is talking about the flower.
A better flower is the one which presents wide and well set (flatted)
petals, wide sepals and erect in the vertical, specially the dorsal.
The ensemble of the flower should be the most round as possible
in a way that we could do an imaginary circle connecting the tips
of the sepals and petals. Those parameters are widely informed
by the American Orchid Society for the species as well as for
Just to finish, what could you tell us about the habitats
in the state of Rio Grande do Sul?
SE: The habitat of Cattleya intermedia in Rio
Grande do Sul spreads along the coast and also follows
the margins of the five rivers which form the Guaiba Lake
(Caí, Taquarí, Sinos, Jacuí and Gravataí).
To the south, following the sea shore, those habitats
are in the margins of the Patos Lagoon and in swamp areas
with cork tree spreading until the ecological reserve
of Taim, the last frontier.
Concerning the habitat of Laelia purpurata today
is practically extinct and was also placed along the sea
shore since Torres district until Porto Alegre, moving
forward the interior, at maximum, for 20 kilometer.
The habitat of Cattleya leopoldii is similar
to the one of Cattleya intermedia but it doesn't
advance so far to the south. In most times, Laelia
purpurata as well Cattleya leopoldii grow
on native fig trees.
Habitat de Cattleya leopoldii
intermedia no habitat
And about the natural hybrids in your state?
SE: There are four:
Laeliocattleya elegans (Laelia purpurata x Cattleya
Cattleya x intricata (Cattleya leopoldii x Cattleya
Laeliocattleya schilleriana (Laelia purpurata
x Cattleya intermedia)
Brassocattleya tramandai (Cattleya leopoldii x Brassavola
ON: Thank you, Sérgio Englert.