Orchid News # 34
XIX WOC


Cycnoches, Mormodes, Catasetums
a review of recent trends

 
  by Fred Clarke

Cycnoches are a fascinating group of plants characterized by their dramatic ‘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 form.













Cyc. cooperii SVO AM
Cyc. cooperi Mem Pat Worthington
Cyc. cooperi SVOIII FCC female
Cyc. cooperi (Heteranthe):
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.















Cyc.barthiorum
Cyc. barthiorum SVO AM female male
Cyc. barthiorum female
Cyc. barthiorum (Heteranthe):
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 male flowers.



Cyc. herrenhusanum
Cyc. herrenhusanum female
Cyc. herrenhusanum (Heteranthe):
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

Cyc. warscewiczii (Eu-cycnoches):
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, waxy substance.



Cyc. chlorochilon (Eu-cycnoches):
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 flower presentation.



Cyc. haagii (Eu-cycnoches):
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 substance


Cyc. lehmannii (Eu-cycnoches):
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, waxy substance.



Cyc. Martha Clarke
With 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.

? Cyc. Jean E. Monnier (Cyc. cooperi x Cyc. barthiorum)
? Cyc. William Clarke (Cyc. cooperi x Cyc. herrenhusanum)
? Cyc. Kevin Clarke (Cyc. warscewiczii x Cyc. herrenhusanum)
? Cyc. Martha Clarke (Cyc. barthiorum x Cyc. herrenhusanum)


The 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.

Mormodes are 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 examples:

? Cycd. Wine Delight (Cyc. lehmannii x Morm. sinuata)
? Cycd. Jem’s Dragon (Cyc. warscewiczii x Morm. frymirei)
? Cycd. Chocolate and Cherries (Cyc. warscewiczii x Morm. sinuata)
? Cycd. Midnight Magic (Cyc. warscewiczii x Morm. Midnight)
? Cycd. Jumbo Empire (Morm. badium x Cyc. peruviana)

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.

Ctsm. denticulatum SVO
Ctsm. pileatum Dinner Plate
Ctsm. pileatum SVO Sunshine

Catasetums 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. expansum)
? 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.

Fdk. After Dark
Fdk. After Dark SVO Black Night
Fdk. After Dark SVO Black Pearl FCC

Fdk. After Dark SVO FCC
Fdk. 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.

Catasetinae 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.

Mid-Season: This 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 the bulbs.

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 center.


Photos: Fred Clarke

Fred Clarke
Sunset Valley Orchids
fred.clarke@worldnet.att.net
www.sunsetvalleyorchids.com


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