Orchid News # 34

                                                                                     by Gene Crocker

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.
One 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'.
Cattleya 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.
A 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.
Cattleya 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.
Cattleya 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" clones also.
Cattleya 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.
Cattleya 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 hybridization.
Cattleya 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 as 'Cooksoniae'.
Modern lavender, white, and semi-alba hybrids bred from these species have nearly perfect form and clear colors.
When 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.
There 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 yellow hybrids.
In 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)
Cattleya 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.
Dark 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.
In 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.
Using 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.
Breeding within the Blc. Oconee lines has given the intensely dark Blc. Eagle Island 'Sangria', AM/AOS and the large dark Blc. Michael Crocker 'Mendenhall'
Achievement 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.
The 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 generations.
A 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.

Fifty 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.
Breeding 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.
In 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 offspring.
Blc. 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 'Serendipity' clone.
At 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.
The 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 second generation.
Cattleya 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.
Cattleya 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.
The 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 months.
Several species have been used to create miniature and compact cattleya hybrids.
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.

A 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.
A 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 them.

Gene Crocker
Carter and Holmes Orchids
P.O. Box 668
Newberry, SC 29108

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