Orchid News # 34

The role of hybridization in the improvement and conservation of orchids
                                                                                                          by César Wenzel

At sea, when a strong wind rolls in, the pessimist believes that things will get worse, the optimist believes that the winds will turn in his favor, the realist adjusts the sail”

It is the 21st century and the alarm has sounded. Global warming threatens the earth with decimation. Millions starve and some say that every 30 seconds a child dies in Africa. I believe that if we do the calculations, there must not be many people left in this world. The truth, in my opinion, is that it is necessary for us to call attention to the damage that we have been inflicting on mother earth, screaming and fighting that we will run out of water, that the poles will melt, etc. However, by producing orchids and oxygen for the past 52 years, we have been doing our part.
In laboratories around the world, more and more plants of higher quality are being produced for medicine, food, ornamentation, etc. In our efforts to prevent the extraction of our flora from nature, we have over time made a selection of a few plants in our laboratory. We compare ourselves to the plastic surgeons of orchids transforming not the ugly, but the beautiful into even greater beauty. We often run into the purists that desire only plants that come directly from nature. However, taking these plants from nature has become both economically unviable and riskier due to the growing influence of environmental awareness. Who poaches plants from nature is committing a prosecutable crime.

The improvement of species is irreversible. More and more plants are becoming more beautiful, shinier, and vigorous. This can certainly generate confusion for those that see a plant costing $250 at an orchid show and say, “there are many of those flowers on my property or on my farm”. That is exactly when opportunistic people go after the place, often without authorization of the owner, and remove everything that they can find within range.
It is silly to think that this will end. We have to adjust our sail.

Sophronitis coccinea – wild
Sophronitis coccinea – improved

Laelia purpurata – wild
Laelia purpurata – improved

Cattleya granulosa – wild
Cattleya granulosa – improved

Cattleya labiata – wild
Cattletya labiata improved

Cattleya walkeriana – wild
Cattleya walkeriana – improved

Cattleya amethystoglossa – wild
Cattleya amethystoglossa – improved

Cattleya loddigesii – wild
Cattleya loddigesii – improved

Laelia tenebrosa – wild
Laelia tenebrosa – improved

Photos: Cesar Wensel

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