News # 34
Cycnoches, Mormodes, Catasetums a review
of recent trends
a fascinating group of plants characterized by their
‘swan shaped’ flowers and their dimorphism
(male and female) flower forms. There have been three
new species recently introduced to cultivation Cyc.
cooperi, Cyc. herrenhusanum, and Cyc. barthiorum.
These three have spectacular color and have re-invigorated
interest in the genus and breeding. The genus is divided
into two sections Eu-Cycnoches where the male
(staminate) and female (pistillate) flowers resemble
each other closely and the Heteranthe where the male
and female flowers are very different in lip and flower
Cyc. cooperii SVO AM
Cyc. cooperi Mem Pat Worthington
Cyc. cooperi SVOIII FCC female
The male flowers range in color from green to dark brown and
are produced on long
pendulous inflorescences carrying 25 to 45 flowers.
Mature plants can easily produce 2 and occasionally
3 inflorescences per growth. The natural spread
of the flower can be as large as 4” (10cm).
Female flowers range in color from dark green
to a deep burgundy-brown and are produced 2-5
per inflorescence. They have a very heavy, waxy
substance and can be larger than the male flowers.
barthiorum SVO AM female male
The male flowers have a complex color; where each flower
will have colors ranging from rose to pinkish-tan to
light green, with random dark brown spots and a white
lip. The flowers and are produced on pendulous inflorescences
carrying 25 to 35 flowers. Mature plants can easily
produce 2 and occasionally 3 inflorescence per growth.
The natural spread of the flower is generally 2” (5cm).
Female flowers are green with a white lip, some have
brown spotting and are produced 2-5 per inflorescence.
They have a waxy substance and are larger than the
Cyc. herrenhusanum female
The male flowers are concolor in shades from yellow to
chartreuse and are produced on pendulous inflorescences
carrying 15 to 25 flowers. Mature plants can produce
2 inflorescence per growth. The natural spread of the
flower is generally 2”
(5cm). Female flowers are the same color as the
males and are produced 2-5 per inflorescence. They
have a heavy, waxy substance and are larger than
the male flowers.
Cyc.warscewiczii 'SVO Select #1
The male flowers have horizontally held petals, all the
segments are green, the lip is ivory with a dark green
callus, and they are produced on pendulous inflorescences
carrying 5 to 7 flowers. Mature plants reliably produce
2 inflorescences per growth. The natural spread of the
flower can be up to 5.5” (14cm).
Female flowers are the same color as the males and are
produced 2-5 per inflorescence and they have a heavy,
There has been considerable taxonomic confusion between Cyc.
chlorochilon and Cyc. warscewiczii as both are similar
in color and size. The primary difference is the up-swept petal
orientation of Cyc. chlorochilon creating a less attractive
The male flower segments color is a light olive-green, and
the lip is ivory with random red spots. Flowers are produced
on pendulous inflorescences carrying 15 to 20 flowers. Mature
plants reliably produce 2 and 3 inflorescences per growth.
The natural spread of the flower can be up to 2.25” (6cm).
Female flowers are similar in color as the males and are
produced 2-5 per inflorescence and they have a heavy, waxy
The male flower segments color is a bright apple green,
and the lip is white with a dark green callus. Flowers
are produced on pendulous inflorescences carrying 3 to
6 flowers. Mature plants produce 2 inflorescences per growth.
The natural spread of the flower can be up to 4” (10cm).
Female flowers are the similar in color as the males and
are produced 2-3 per inflorescence and they have a heavy,
the introduction of the three exciting and new
Heteranthe species, Cyc. cooperi, Cyc. barthiorum,
and Cyc. herrenhusanum, hybridization has been
re-invigorated. The new distinctive colors and
fine form each possess have allowed for substantial
improvements with the first of the primary hybrids.
flower color of these four new hybrids range from;
green, chartreuse, amber, tangerine, light chocolate
to dark chocolate and some come spotted! The next
generation of hybrids should hold many surprises.
? Cyc. Jean E. Monnier (Cyc.
cooperi x Cyc. barthiorum)
? Cyc. William Clarke (Cyc.
cooperi x Cyc. herrenhusanum)
? Cyc. Kevin Clarke (Cyc. warscewiczii x Cyc.
? Cyc. Martha Clarke (Cyc. barthiorum x Cyc.
commonly referred to as the goblin orchid. The flowers
are twisted and contorted and don’t
prescribe the ‘normal’
orchid flower look. Mormodes are also perfect
flowers in that the male and female components are
present in each flower. Mormodes can be challenging
to grow since many of the species are from hot tropical
areas with long growing seasons. Some, however, will
do well in North America. I have grown many Mormodes and
the following have been the most reliable:
? Morm. lawrenciana
? Morm. maculate
? Morm. sinuata
? Morm. horichii
? Morm. revolutum
? Morm. elegans
? Morm. igneum
? Morm. warscewiczii
What Mormodes lack in flower form they make
up for in spectacular color. This challenging to grow
genus can be very rewarding as few orchid species have
such a diverse range of color and patterning.
Cycnodes is the name for the hybrid genus between Cycnoches and Mormodes.
What a remarkable paring they make! The Cycnoches parent
imparts its flower size, form and vigorous growth habit,
the Mormodes gives its color. There have been
some excellent hybrids and listed below are some outstanding
? Cycd. Wine Delight (Cyc. lehmannii x Morm.
? Cycd. Jem’s Dragon (Cyc. warscewiczii x Morm.
? Cycd. Chocolate and Cherries (Cyc. warscewiczii x Morm.
? Cycd. Midnight Magic (Cyc. warscewiczii x
? Cycd. Jumbo Empire (Morm. badium x Cyc.
Cycnodes hybrids have a high average of flower quality.
There have been relatively few hybrids made, only 60
registered to date, however there have been over 38
AOS awards with 2 First Class Certificates. This is
a remarkable high number of AOS awards and demonstrates
the future potential in their hybridization.
pileatum Dinner Plate
pileatum SVO Sunshine
are a diverse an interesting group of plants. They have
dimorphic flower forms and, generally, the male and female
flowers differ considerably. The males usually have many
showy flowers that are short lived. They all have pollen
ejecting triggers located along the underside of the
column. The female flowers are typically a dull green
color with a helmet shaped lip, are produced in few numbers
and are relatively long lived. There are many species
of Catasetums and the following are readily available
and are excellent growers and bloomers.
• Ctsm. pileatum
The male flower color ranges from ivory to green and
has a large dish-shaped lip,
3.5” (9cm) across. The flowers are produced
8 to 11 on pendulous inflorescences and are
short lived, usually not more than 5-7 days. The female
flowers are typically a dull green
color with a helmet shaped lip, and are produced 3-5
per inflorescence. This is one of the
easiest Catasetums to grow and is a reliable bloomer.
• Ctsm. expansum
The male flowers range in color from apple green to
ivory and some have few to many
burgundy spots on the predominant lip which is often
2.75” (7cm) across. The flowers are
produced 10 to 20 on pendulous inflorescences and are
short lived usually not more than 5-
7 days. The female flowers are typically a dull green
color with a helmet shaped lip and
are produced 3-5 per inflorescence. This is also one
of the easiest Catasetums to grow and
is a reliable bloomer.
• Ctsm. saccatum
The male flowers are produced on cascading inflorescences
often 24” long and can
carry 20 to 40 flowers. The flowers are lime green
heavily overlaid dark chestnut brown. The lip is fringed
with a predominant indentation or sac, thus the name
saccatum. The short lived male flowers are compensated
by the plants ability to flower 3 or 4 times per season.
Female flowers are typical for the genus.
• Ctsm. denticulatum
This is one the smaller growing Catasetums where mature
plants seldom exceeds 5” (13cm) in height.
The male flowers are produced 15-24 per inflorescence
and have a natural spread of approximately 1.5” (4cm).
The flower color is a light green with the segments
profusely spotted dark brown. The dentate lip is
yellow-gold and profusely spotted dark brown. The
flowers are longer lived usually 10-14 days. This
is a very attractive species and may be very useful
in future hybridization for its possible contributions
in color and size.
• Ctsm. barbatum
The bearded lip Catasetum carries 15 to 20 interesting
flowers measuring 1.25”
(3.5cm) in natural spread.
• Ctsm. fimbriatum
This Catasetum blooms with 15 to 20 flowers
and has a fringed lip. This species has
been useful in breeding frilly lipped progeny
• Ctsm. tenebrosum
This is one of the first Catasetums to bloom in the
spring, inflorescences develop on newly
emerging growths. The male flowers have dark almost
black petals and sepals which are
off set by a contrasting chartreuse lip. Inflorescences
have a tendency to be more upright
in their presentation and typically carry from 15 to
24 flowers. This species has been
instrumental in the breeding of dark colored flowers
and many of its progeny will bloom 2-
3 times a season.
The most successful Catasetums hybridization has primarily
centered around two species Ctsm. pileatum and Ctsm.
expansum. These large showy flowers are attractive
and the plants are easy to grow and flower. The advanced
hybrids of today still rely on these building blocks
with the addition of a few other species to add color
and flower longevity. The following hybrids represent
a successful breeding path where heavily spotted to
burgundy colored flowers have been produced.
? Ctsm. Orchidglade (Ctsm. pileatum x Ctsm.
? Ctsm. Susan Fuchs (Ctsm. Orchidglade
x Ctsm. expansum)
? Ctsm. . Donna Wise (Ctsm. Orchidglade
x Ctsm. tenebrosum)
? Ctsm. Crownfox Voodoo (Ctsm. Susan
Fuchs x Ctsm. tenebrosum)
? Ctsm. Mark Dimmitt (Ctsm. Donna Wise
x Ctsm. Orchidglade)
Fredclarkeara After Dark is a new hybrid genus
containing the following genera: Clowesia, Mormodes,
and Catasetum. The flowers are perfect, there
is no pollen ejecting trigger and they are long lived,
up to 6 weeks in most cases. Fredclarkeara (Fdk.)
After Dark (Mo. Painted Desert x Ctsm. Donna
Wise) produces flowers of excellent form, size, quantity
and color. It has also produced the blackest flowers
seen by the American Orchid Society Judges. To date
the American Orchid Society Judges have awarded; 4
First Class Certificates, 3 Award of Merit, 2 Cultural
Certificates of Excellence, and an Award of Distinction.
After Dark SVO Black Night
After Dark SVO Black Pearl FCC
After Dark SVO FCC
After Dark SVO BlackCherry FCC
The breeding potential of the Catasetinae alliance
is only now just being realized. We have recently learned
how to improve flower longevity through the use of
Clowesia species, recognized the color potential, and
we are only scratching the surface. This genus has
many different types of flower forms, color, size and
shapes that this deep gene pool will allow for many
new and different hybrids for years to come. So hold
on we are only just getting started!
Catasetinae Plant Culture
Catasetinae have a distinctive growth and
rest period (dormancy). For best plant growth it
is important to understand and respect these growth
phases. When the plants are in active growth, maintain
constant root zone moisture and fertilize regularly.
This is essential to optimizing the development of
new growth. When the plants are dormant, little or
no water is needed as the pseudobulbs store enough
moisture and nutrients to survive the dormancy.
plant culture is not difficult, all it takes is an
understanding of the seasonal growth patterns. The
plants vegetative state signals to the grower their
changing needs. Interpret the signals and make the
appropriate cultural adjustments.
Early spring: Catasetinae begin
their new growth in early spring. However, watering
should wait until the new growth has well developed
new roots. On mature plants let the new roots grow
to an approximate length of 3-5”
before you begin watering. The waiting to water is
not easy, my natural instinct is to begin watering
when I see new growth, but I have learned through trial
and error that it is better to wait to water, rather
than start watering too soon. Catasetinae roots appear
to deteriorate during dormancy and in the following
year they are not as effective at taking up moisture
and nutrients. This makes the new roots vital in the
plants health. This reinforces the message about not
watering too early.
is the period where the plants are rapidly developing
their new roots and pseudobulbs. There is a surprising
amount of growth that occurs in these months, often
the plants will double there size. Due to this, the
plants require constant moisture and regular fertilization.
In most cases, irrigation will be needed 2 or 3 times
a week. A balanced fertilizer at full strength is
suitable for this rapid growth. Light levels suggested
for Cattleya’s will help
insure strong good growth and flowering. This is also
the beginning of the flowering season.
Late Season: Sometime in the late autumn the
plants will begin to enter the dormancy phase. Understanding
the signals of the onset of dormancy and the factors
triggering it are important to good plant culture.
The plants first signals are the yellowing of the leaves.
At this time stop fertilizing and reduce watering by
half. When most of the leaves are yellow/brown or have
dropped off, cease watering altogether. The general
rule to follow is: by the 15th of November stop fertilization
and reduce watering by half. Most leaves should have
yellowed or fallen off by the 1st of January, however,
if the plants still have leaves all irrigation should
be stopped at this time.
Note: Watering during dormancy should only be done
if the plant shrivels severely.
Usually a single irrigation is sufficient to restore
Catasetinae like light levels comparable to Cattleya’s
at about 2500-4000 foot
candles. I use two potting mixes. For seedlings, up
to a 3” pot size I like to use New Zealand
Sphagnum moss with the bottom 1/3 of the pot filled
with Styrofoam peanuts. For mature
plants I have been using a 50/50 mix of coconut husk
chips and Maidenwell diatomite.
Repotting and dividing should only be done as the new
growth is just starting to develop and
before the new roots start to show. Unlike most orchid
plants, Catasetinae do well when
divided into two bulb pieces. Catasetinae are
generally pest free, however spider mites are
attracted to the leaves of these plants. Spider mites
are quite small, they live and feed on the
undersides of the leaves. Take care in checking for
them as the plants are leafing out and
control them with a recommended miticide from you garden
Photos: Fred Clarke
Sunset Valley Orchids
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