In the beginning there were Cattleya species,
and the Cattleya species were good. But man
looked at those species and said, "We can make
them better. We can cause them to have round form and
full segments. We can cause them to show all of the
colors of the rainbow. We can make some very large
and others very small. Some will have flares in the
petals and sepals, some will have an edging of a different
color, and we hope that some will be black!"
Man then set out to do these things, not knowing that
it would take over 150 years, and not knowing that
at some point many people would say, "Give us
back our species!"It is true that a world in which
all cattleyas have the same round form and in which
all of them are "designer" colors may become
boring, but it is also true that hybridizers through
the years have produced wonderful cattleyas that enjoy
great popularity.The purpose of this presentation is
to show how some of the hybrid achievements occurred.
To do this, I will have to begin with the species,
for each cattleya species has unique characteristics
that it transmits to its progeny.
of the first goals of the early hybridizers was to
develop cattleyas with wide segments and full, overlapping
form. Several species have relatively good form in
nature, but one stands out - Cattleya trianaei.
The early awards to clones of Cattleya trianaei,
and the photographs and paintings of these early
clones, show us that many had outstanding form. One
current example is Cattleya trianaei 'Mary
Fennell, HCC/AOS, which was collected in Colombia
in 1888 and still survives in collections today.
Other clones that demonstrate good form are C. trianaei
'Newberry', a seedling from an out cross made using
the 'Mary Fennell' clone, C. trianaei 'A.C.
Burrage', FCC/AOS, and the more recently discovered
clone, C. trianaei 'Jungle Feather'.
trianaei blooms in mid-winter from sheaths
made the previous summer. Cattleya hybrids
with outstanding form, such as C. Horace
'Maxima', AM/AOS, show the dominance of C. trianaei form
in first and second generations. They also tend
to flower in January and February.
second species with good form is Cattleya percivaliana from
Venezuela. The C. percivaliana 'Summit' clone,
which was collected in 1922 and awarded an FCC/AOS
in 1972, has particularly good form which it transmits
to its offspring. C. Mark Rose is (C.
Horace 'Maxima, AM/AOS x C. percivaliana 'Summit',
FCC/AOS), and it has form equal to any of the modern
hybrids. Another shapely hybrid is C. Gene's Dream,
a cross of C. Gravesiana (lueddemanniana x mossiae)
with C. percivaliana 'Summit', FCC/AOS. Cattleya
percivaliana is known as the "Christmas" orchid
due to its December flowering period. The tetraploid
mutation of C. percivaliana 'Summit', FCC/AOS
is now being used to produce superior hybrids for
the November-December holiday period.
mossiae is not especially dominant for good
form, but it does give a spring blooming season,
valuable now for the spring orchid shows. Often
called the "Easter" orchid, it is floriferous
and blooms on sheaths made the previous summer.
Hybrids from it tend to flower freely and constituted
the spring cut flower market of the 1930's - 1950's,
when holiday corsages were in fashion. Certain
clones of that time possessed larger size and better
form, and are still popular today. One is C. mossiae
'Ed Patterson', AM/AOS. There is a chance tetraploid
clone, 'Featherhill', that has broader segments
and heavy substance. It is of more recent origin
and is just now being used in hybridization. Two
clones that have been awarded as C. mossiae but
appear to be C. Gravesiana (lueddemanniana
x mossiae) are 'Panther Creek', AM/AOS and
'Willowbrook', FCC/AOS. Even the 'R.E. Patterson'
clone used so much by Patterson Orchids appears
to be a C. Gravesiana. As with most of the
large flowered cattleya species, alba and semi-alba
clones exist and have been used to produce hybrids
in those colors.
lueddemanniana is another Venezuelan species
that flowers a little bit later in the spring,
with a season that overlaps C. mossiae. Clones
of this species have great form and pass that form
on to their hybrids. This is true for the alba
and semi-alba clones as well, and there are quality "blue"
warschewiczii is from Colombia and produces
huge flowers just as the new growth matures in
early summer. Three characteristics of C. warschewiczii
are (1) large size, (2) numerous blooms per stem,
and (3) large yellow eyes in the lip. These characteristics
are transmitted to its progeny, but unfortunately
thin texture and poor substance are transmitted
as well. Flowers are not long-lasting. For these
reasons it has not been used as much in hybridizing,
but the large yellow eyes in the lip are dominant
and appear after several generations. Blc. Bryce
Canyon 'Splendiferous', AM/AOS illustrates the
large warschewiczii eyes.
warneri from Brazil blooms in late spring and has
large size and relatively good form, especially in
the alba clones, but it has been used sparingly in
labiata, the species on which the genus was
founded, is from Brazil. It flowers in the fall
on growth made during the spring and summer. Buds
are triggered by shorter days, and producers of
cut flowers learned that by lighting the plants
(lengthening the days) they could delay the flowering
until the spring season. This was also dependent
on a night temperature of 60 degrees F. or higher
until flowers were desired. Cattleya hybrids that
are closely bred on C. labiata are also light controllable.
Some of the finest "blue"
colors come from C. labiata. There are also
excellent semi-alba clones of C. labiata, such
lavender, white, and semi-alba hybrids bred from
these species have nearly perfect form and clear
we consider yellow and red cattleya hybrids, there
are no species that will easily give large, well-shaped
hybrids. In these colors the hybridizers have had
the greatest challenges.
are two yellow cattleya species, Cattleya aurea and Cattleya
dowiana. In the past these have been considered
as one species, but their different breeding behavior
is enough to suggest that they are distinct species. Cattleya
aurea is from Colombia and Cattleya dowiana is
from Costa Rico and Panama. Both of these are yellow,
and I am sure the early hybridizers expected that
they could be used to produce yellow hybrids. Very
early, however, they learned that the two species
did not breed alike, and neither of them produced
1920, John P. Mossman made the following statement. "We
have used Cattleya dowiana as a parent more
that any other cattleya because it gives to the hybrid
the yellow veining in the throat and intensifies
the color of the whole flower. Cattleya aurea puts
color into the throat of the labellum also, but it
does not intensify the color of the sepals and petals
as does Cattleya dowiana. If we are using a flower
as a parent which has white sepals and petals, we
would never think of using Cattleya dowiana in the
cross as it always puts a trace of rose into the
petals of the hybrid. Cattleya aurea does not do
this provided the other parent in the cross is pure
white. Apparently the yellow color of Cattleya aurea
has no influence on a white flower except to impart
a rich coloring to the lip and its wonderful veining
in the throat." (1)
dowiana crossed with a lavender C. labiata makes
the very dark Cattleya Fabia. We crossed Cattleya
aurea onto a semi-alba C. labiata and
obtained a strain of Cattleya Fabia that
is white with solid purple lips. Many have beautiful
veining in the lip or bright golden eyes.
hybrids from Cattleya dowiana were used to
produce famous dark cattleyas such as Lc. Elizabeth
Off 'Sparkling Burgundy', FCC/AOS and Blc Oconee
'Mendenhall', AM/AOS. Blc. Oconee is a cross
of Lc. Belle of Celle 'Waiomao' x Blc.
Norman's Bay 'Lucille', FCC/AOS. The cross was made
in Hawaii by Ernest Iwanaga, and a large quantity
were flowered at Carter and Holmes in South Carolina.
The finest to flower is the 'Mendenhall' clone, and
it has become one of the most famous cattleya parents
of the present day. Lc. Belle of Celle is 50% Cattleya
dowiana and Blc. Oconee is 43% Cattleya dowiana.
This gives it the ability to transmit dark color
and also to produce red when crossed with other hybrids
that have yellow or orange color.
the 1960's, Dr. Philip Ilsley published some information
on his experience in crossing dark flowers onto orange
flowers, specifically using Lc. Maria Ozzella (Lc.
Lee Langford x C. Nigrella) as an outstanding example.
He and other hybridizers observed that in some dark
cattleya crosses the pigments in the flower were
apparently "sap soluble", such that a dark
purple crossed with an orange would not result in
a muddy blend of the two colors but in a clear red.
Blc. Oconee 'Mendenhall' as a parent, Bill Carter
produced a number of fine, large flowered reds such
as Blc. Port Royal Sound (x Lc. Amber Glow), Blc.
Edisto (x Lc. Maria Ozzella), Blc. Lynche's River
(x Lc. Mary Ellen Carter), Blc. Fort Watson (x Lc.
S.J. Bracey), and Blc. Owen Holmes (x Blc. Harlequin).
The clear reds produced in Blc. Owen Holmes were
something of a puzzle until we did some analysis
and found that Blc. Harlequin is 46% Cattleya dowiana
and 25% Laelia tenebrosa. We have since found that
the best reds from Blc. Oconee were in crosses where
the other parent had significant Laelia tenebrosa
in its pedigree.
within the Blc. Oconee lines has given the
intensely dark Blc. Eagle Island 'Sangria', AM/AOS
and the large dark Blc. Michael Crocker 'Mendenhall'
of quality yellow and orange cattleya hybrids relied
on the use of the Brazilian laelias. These brightly
colored laelias such as the orange Laelia cinnabarina
and the yellow Laelia flava are responsible for the
rich yellow and orange colors in cattleya hybrids.
Lc. Golden Bob was registered in 1968 and resulted
from Laelia cinnabarina being crossed onto the large
white, Cattleya Kreszentia, and the result crossed
back onto Cattleya Kreszentia. The flowers from this
cross had relatively good form, and the colors were
equally divided as follows: lavender, peach, light
yellow, butter yellow, and white. Breeding with the
yellow forms of this and similar crosses has given
large flowers with good yellow color and good form.
Yellow hybrids from the laelia background can be
bred with Cattleya aurea and retain the yellow color
while getting the dark red and beautifully veined
C. aurea labellum.
bifoliate Cattleya bicolor has been used to give
substance and flatness to yellow and green hybrids,
but it may give a "spade" lip (side lobes
missing) in some of the hybrids, even after several
group of Lc. Mary Ellen Carter (Lc. Amber Glow x
Lc. S.J. Bracey) first bloom seedlings shows great
variation in lip color and form, with some "spade"
lips, some full dark red lips with veining from C.
aurea, and some with great amounts of yellow in the
lip, also from C. aurea. One of the best of the cross
is Lc. Mary Ellen Carter 'Dixie Hummingbird', HCC/AOS,
which shows a lot of C. aurea influence.
We can also see C. aurea characteristics in Potinara
Susan Fender 'Cinnamon Stick', AM/AOS (Pot. Caesar's
Head x Lc. Mary Ellen Carter). Other Pot. Susan Fender
clones such as 'Newberry', 'Cover Girl', and 'Flash
Point' show similar characteristics.
years ago most of the yellow cattleya hybrids had
deformed flowers. Tips of the petals would have thickened
places that twisted and sometimes tried to produce
anther caps. Often this would not exist in first
bloom seedlings, but as the plant aged the condition
became more pronounced with each flowering. Sometimes
the blooms were barely recognizable. These older
yellow hybrids were also weak plants with thin pseudobulbs
and thin leaves.
the yellow hybrids to Brassavola (Rhyncolaelia) digbyana
usually reduced the deformity, but also diluted the
color and produced heavy mid-ribs in the petals that
caused them to not be flat. The digbyana influence
did increase the vigor of the plants.
recent years, deformity in yellows has been overcome
by making outcrosses to standard white and lavender
hybrids and then crossing back onto other yellows.
This has also improved the vigor and greatly improved
the shape of the flowers. Good examples are Blc.
Toshie Aoki and Blc. George King. Blc. Toshie Aoki
is a great-grandchild of the famous large lavender,
Blc. Norman's Bay. The petal flaring probably derives
from Lc. Lustre 'Westonbirt' in the background of
Blc. Norman's Bay. Blc. Toshie Aoki is a great hybrid
in itself, but it has also produced some wonderful
George King is a cross of the concolor yellow Blc.
Buttercup on the wonderfully shaped, white, Cattleya Bob
Betts. Blc. George King 'Serendipity' AM/AOS
is a beautiful peach or salmon color, and it is especially
vigorous, flowering more than once a year. When it
is crossed with yellow hybrids the offspring are
usually quality yellows such as Blc. Jimmy
Cook (x Pot. Frank Gilmore) and Blc. Delta
King ( Lc. John Sexton). Around 1994, in a
group of 200 mericlones of Blc. George King
'Serendipity' flowered by Aranbeem Orchids in Australia,
one plant was a clear yellow mutant with a rose lip.
This was given the clonal name, 'Southern Cross',
and subsequently received an Award of Merit from
the American Orchid Society. Hybrids made with the
'Southern Cross' clone produce clearer and lighter
yellow colors than the same hybrids made with the
Carter and Holmes we have used Lc. Palolo
Bronze, another derivative from C. Bob Betts,
to produce quality yellows and reds. It is the parent
of Lc. Brierley's Ferry (x Lc. Amber
Glow). Potinara Frank Gilmore 'Mendenhall'
has Cattleya Bow Bells in its ancestry. It
is a large and vigorous concolor yellow with red "dowiana" veins
under the column.
bifoliate cattleyas each have unique characteristics
they impart to their offspring. Cattleya (Guarianthe) aurantiaca has
narrow segments, but it gives to its offspring yellow
to orange color, heavy substance, vigor, and a spring
flowering season. It is a parent of the vigorous,
red, Slc. Jewel Box and a grandparent of the
concolor yellow Blc. Bouton D'or and the red-to-orange
Slc. Hazel Boyd. Very good form is achieved in the
bicolor, mentioned earlier, gives good substance
to the flower, along with "spade" lips,
vigor, and a summer bloom season. The green forms
of C. bicolor have produced some of our
most sun-fast greens.
aclandiae gives dwarf habit, and the dark bars
on the flowers are broken into spots in its hybrids. C. Brabantiae
(x C. harrisoniana) is a good example,
with pink background color and purple spots. When C. Brabantiae
was crossed to C. Mrs. Mahler (C. bicolor x C.
leopoldii), the resulting hybrid, C. Fort
Motte, was taller with more flowers, but still
nicely spotted. A sibling cross of C. Fort Motte
produced a wide range of colors and degrees of
spotting. Some were pink with purple spots, but
others were green with almost black spots, and
a few had such heavy, dark purple barring that
it almost covered the flowers.
Brazilian bifoliate cattleyas tend to bloom in the
summer months on new growths, and this is characteristic
of their hybrids. They also need to be repotted when
in active growth, and never repotted during the winter
species have been used to create miniature and compact
Sophronitis coccinea produces dwarf hybrids and its
bright red color and full, flat form are also transmitted.
It also gives weak stems, however, with long ovaries
that allow the flower to face downward. Two other faults
are the requirements for cool temperatures and the
sparse root system. Just a few large roots arise from
the small rhizome. Hybrids should be designed to give
heat tolerance and a better root system. Hybrids such
as Sc. Beaufort (x C. luteola) and Sl.
Orpetii (x L. pumila) have been stepping stones
to more vigorous miniature cattleyas.
number of modern hybrids have been made using Sc.
Beaufort. Some of these were produced by using polyploidy
mutations that occurred in tissue culture. We have
made Sc. June Bug (Sc. Beaufort x C.
bicolor) using diploid parents on each side in
one instance and polyploidy parents on each side
in the other instance. The results were markedly
better (larger size, better form, and heavier substance)
when the polyploid parents were used.
great deal of work remains to be done in all aspects
of Cattleya hybridization. We need greater vigor
and more dependable bloom in the miniatures. We need
compact plants with large flowers (as in Blc. Knee
Baby = Blc. Oconee x L. pumila). We need stems
that open flowers in succession (as in Iwanagara Apple
Blosson = Blc. Orange Nugget x Dl.
Snowflake). We need longer lasting flowers, better
green colors, true blue colors, windowsill plants
with lower light requirements, and so much more!
The species have these things locked within their
genes. We need adventuresome people willing to unlock
Carter and Holmes Orchids
P.O. Box 668
Newberry, SC 29108
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