Ex situ orchid survey

Botanic Gardens Conservation International-US, in partnership with the United States Botanic Garden, last month published a global survey of ex situ orchids (those held outside their natural habitat; ex situ literally means off site).

One of the largest plant families in the world, orchids occur naturally in nearly every ecosystem on Earth. Orchids are also economically important and often over-collected in the wild. Ex situ collections are a vital conservation measure offering protection to species away from their native habitat and any in situ threats. Ex situ collections can also form the basis of reintroduction and restoration programmes.

The report highlights the 35% (272) orchid genera that are not known in ex situ collections, a vital conservation measure that could prevent extinction. Only 36% of orchid species known to be threatened are reported by gardens, and a majority of those collections lack provenance information and adequate duplication across institutions.

This means that very few orchid taxa have back-up protection if in situ populations are lost. “We call for orchid ex situ collections to be expanded to contain a greater diversity of species and sufficient genetic diversity to prevent species extinction and allow their use in recovery and restoration programmes, especially in biodiverse regions,” the report says.

One orchid species, Oeceoclades seychellarum, has been assessed by the IUCN as Extinct due to habitat degradation caused by human settlement and invasive plants. Although only 3% (890 of 27,800) of orchids have been assessed by the IUCN, 59% (529 taxa) are considered threatened and need ex situ protection to prevent extinction.

Read the full report here (opens as a pdf, 13MB). It includes a list of 272 orchid genera not yet known by BGCI in an ex situ collection – if you know of a specimen, please report it.

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BOP Orchid Show 2018

Congratulations to Barry Curtis (Tauranga) and Bob Parsons (BOP) who respectively won the Grand Champion and Reserve Champion titles at this week’s Bay of Plenty Orchid Society Show. Despite a somewhat difficult growing season – although not for everyone, clearly – there was a nice range of orchids to look at in the Te Puke War Memorial Hall on Friday and Saturday. Hope you enjoy the photos (by Sandra Simpson).

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Grand Champion plant: Bulbophyllum Elizabeth Ann ‘Buckleberry’ grown by Barry Curtis of the Tauranga Orchid Society.

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A closer look at one of the many dozens of flowers on the plant – and more buds were still forming!

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Reserve Champion plant: Psychopsis papilio, grown by Bob Parsons of the Bay of Plenty Orchid Society. This plant, sometimes called the butterfly orchid, had about five blooms.

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A basket of Dendrobium cuthbertsonii was a winner for Pat Hutchins, owner of Sunvale Orchids in Gisborne and a member of the Tauranga Society. These little orchids grow epiphytically at up to 3000m above sea level in New Guinea and the Bismarck Archipelago.

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A delightful mini-Paphiopedilum displayed on the BOP society’s stand.

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Paph Ruby Leopard x Marie Joyes, grown by Selwyn Hatrick of Rotorua. The photographer notes that to the eye, the pouch appeared almost black, much darker than the camera recorded.

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The striking Cattleya Gila Wilderness ‘Nippon Treasure’ belongs to by Bob Parsons. He was given the plant by Andy Easton as the orchid grower and breeder made the move from Rotorua to live in Colombia. The label may also have a bit more name on the end, but it’s become very hard to read.

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Rhyncholaeliocattleya (Rlc) Village Chief North ‘Green Genius’ was shown by Leroy Orchids of Auckland.

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Warczewiczella Amazon Beauty was shown on the Whangarei Orchid Society stand. As part of the name suggests, the plant is native to the Amazon basin.

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Masdevallia herradurae, or the horse-shoe Masdevallia, was shown by Diane Hintz on the BOP stand. Found in Colombia and Ecuador, this orchid grows at elevations of 500 to 2100m on mossy trees.

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Habenaria rhodocheila is a southeast Asian orchid that grows in deciduous forests. This plant was shown on the Whangarei stand.

Read more about the care of Harbenaria orchids, which have tubers and so are terrestrial growing. The Pacific Bulb Society website includes a page on these orchids.

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The striking Habenaria myriotricha was shown by Carl Christensen of Napier.

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2013 Orchid of the Year

A flower grown by Erica Cowdell of the Tauranga Orchid Society was chosen by the New Zealand Orchid Council as its 2013 Orchid of the Year and Species of the Year.

The same plant – Paphiopedilum hirsutissimum var esquirolei ‘Skye’ – was the Pahiopedilum/Phragmepedium section champion at the 2013 national Orchid Expo in New Plymouth (our local results also included Grand Champion of the show).

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New Zealand’s 2013 Orchid of the Year, grown by Erica Cowdell. Photo: Dennis Chuah

Erica, who received her first orchid as a gift in 1959, grows thousands of Paphiopedilum (slipper), orchids as a commercial cut-flower crop at her property on the Omokoroa peninsula, near Tauranga, and has been exporting blooms to the United States since 2011.

“I’d had some Paphs since 1970 but in 2007 I got more focused and swapped my crop from Cymbidiums. The one that was honoured is a flower I sell locally as it doesn’t quite have the lasting qualities for export,” she says.

At the time of the national expo Erica had few orchids in flower as it was late in the season for Paphiopedilums.

“I put in virtually everything I had that was freshly in flower and this plant happened to peak at the right time.

“You can have the perfect flower but no show for it and some people spend their entire lives hoping to get a winner.”

In the 2014 OCNZ Yearbook, Erica notes that she bought the plant from Keith Goodwin of Tarawera in December 2007, repotting it annually. It has been grown in temperatures ranging between about 13 and 34 degrees Celsius. She feeds  it with a top dressing of about a quarter of a teaspoon of blood and bone in late spring (avoiding the foliage) and liquid seaweed throughout the year.

“I give all my plants very dilute application of calcium nitrate, one application in January, one in February and a final one in March. My plants are grown in what I call bright shade.”

The plant received an Award of Merit (AM/OCNZ) and 86.36 points.

In 2018 Erica’s property and business is for sale.

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Easter egg hunt

Time to go on an Easter egg hunt … for a Fabergé egg!

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Gustav Fabergé founded the jewellery firm that bears his name in 1842 in the old Russian capital of St Petersburg after the Huguenot family (then named Favri) had fled France, first to eastern Germany and then (what is now) Estonia.

The influence of Peter the Great (1672-1725) on Russia can hardly be overstated – when he ascended the throne in 1682 Russia was backward and primitive but he was determined his country should become and remain a great European power. As part of his drive to modernise in 1703 he founded St Petersburg as his new capital.

Catherine the Great (1729-96) – the wife of Peter’s grandson – continued the reformations, including religious tolerance, and her reign is also seen as a golden era. The creation of her Winter Palace in St Petersburg absorbed artists from the entire civilised world, including Peter Fabry, a goldsmith, whose son Gustav was born in 1814 in St Petersburg. The family name then changed for the last time, to Fabergé.

Gustav was apprenticed to a goldsmith before joining the firm of Keibel, celebrated for reworking the Imperial Russian Crown Jewels in 1826. In 1841 Gustav is recorded as a  Master Goldsmith and the next year he opened the first Fabergé shop in St Petersburg and also married Charlotte Jungstedt, daughter of a Danish artist. In 1846 the couple’s first child, (Peter) Carl Fabergé, is born.

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The egg reveals a miniature, and meticulous, replica of the Gatchina Palace, the Dowager Empress’s principal residence outside St. Petersburg. Gifted in 1901. Image: Wikipedia

The young Carl Fabergé attended business school in Dresden and was apprenticed to a jeweller in Frankfurt. He also travelled to Italy, France and England before returning to St Petersburg and taking over the House of Fabergé in 1882.

In 1885, after being impressed by Fabergé’s skills, Tsar Alexander III commissioned an Easter egg as a gift for his wife, Tsarina Maria Fedorovna. Its “shell” was enamelled on gold to represent a normal hen’s egg. This pulled apart to reveal a gold yolk, which in turn opened to produce a gold chicken that also opened to reveal a replica of the Imperial Crown from which a miniature ruby egg was suspended. Although the Crown and the miniature egg have been lost, the rest of the Hen Egg is in the collection of Russian businessman Victor Vekselberg, who since 2004 has become owner of most of the world’s Fabergé eggs – and who has put them on show in the Fabergé Museum in St Petersburg.

The tradition of the Tsar giving his wife a surprise Easter egg by Carl Fabergé continued and from 1887 it appears Fabergé was given complete freedom as to the design. According to the family, not even the Tsar knew what form the egg would take: the only stipulation was that each one should contain a surprise. The House of Fabergé completed 50 Imperial eggs for Alexander III and his son Nicholas II (who continued to present one to his mother, as well as his wife, Tsarina Alexandra Fedorovna). Of these, 43 are known to have survived.

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Not a chocolate surprise! The Imperial Coronation Egg, gifted in 1897. Image: Faberge Museum

The revolution of 1917 saw the firm nationalised the next year and Carl Fabergé left Petrograd (St Petersburg) on the last diplomatic train for Latvia. However, a revolution started in Latvia soon after and Carl fled to Germany. The Bolsheviks imprisoned his sons Agathon and Alexander, although for a time Agathon was released to value seized jewels and valuables.

Madame Fabergé and her oldest son Eugène escaped through snow-covered woods by sleigh and on foot. Towards the end of December 1918, they crossed into the safety of Finland.

Eugène reached his father in June 1920, taking him to Switzerland where various members of the family were living. Carl Fabergé died in Lausanne 3 months later and his wife in January 1925. Although Alexander managed to escape from prison when a friend bribed guards, Agathon did not make his escape until November 1927 when he, his wife and son, together with four helpers, travelled at night by sledge across the frozen Gulf of Finland. Agathon and his family spent the rest of their lives in Finland.

In 1924 Alexander and Eugéne opened Fabergé et Cie in Paris, where they had modest success making the types of items their father retailed years before. Fabergé et Cie continued to operate in Paris until 2001.

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The Pink Orchid Egg and its surprise, made by Theo Fabergé. Image: St Petersburg Collection

Nicholas Fabergé, Carl’s youngest son, moved to London in 1903 to help run the only branch of the business outside Russia, later becoming one of the country’s first fashion photographers. His only child Theo (1922-2007) was born in London but for many years didn’t know he was part of the famed family (his mother had been Nicholas’ mistress and the boy was raised by an aunt).

In the 1950s – it was 1969 before he became aware of his father’s family – Theo Fabergé began to design and make elegant objets d’art from rare wood and ivory and soon began to receive commissions. In 1984, he was persuaded to produce a collection incorporating precious metals, crystal, enamelling, stone-carving, precious gems and porcelain, known as the St Petersburg Collection (the trademark ‘Fabergé’ had passed out of family ownership). Theo and his daughter Sarah then worked on a variety of commissions, including creating new Fabergé eggs.

Read more of the family history here.

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Orchid Names: Goodale Moir

William Whitmore Goodale Moir (pronounced Moyer) was born in 1896 in Papaikou on the big island, Hawaii, the son of Scottish migrants. As well as being a long-time sugar industry agronomist with Amfax, Mr Moir was also a noted orchid breeder, developing more than 65 hybrids, giving later hybridisers a much better understanding of the genetic relationships between genera.

Paul Devlin Wood, writing in Hana Hou!, the magazine of Hawaiian Airlines, offered a link for Goodale Moir’s interest: “These first [orchid] collections were stocked by plant hunters, scouts sent by the sugar and pineapple companies to search the Pacific for new genetic material. One of these scouts, John Moir, returned in 1917 from the Philippines with boxes of live orchids. Moir’s son Goodale became a leading figure in the early days of hybridisation …” Read the full article here.

In 2015 the Hawaii Tribune Herald reported: “Early in the 20th century, John Moir of Honolulu and later his son, Goodale, built one of the earliest orchid collections in the state. The Moir collection passed to Herbert Shipman on Hawaii Island just before the outbreak of World War 2.” Mr Shipman then became one of Hawaii’s first commercial growers.

The Spanish Colonial Revival home Goodale built in 1930, known as Lipolani, has been recognised by the Hawaii Historic Foundation. The one-storey home on the outskirts of Honolulu is a significant example of the residential work of architect Louis E. Davis.

Mr Moir  chose the wedge-shaped site at the junction of two streets because it had the best trade wind flow. He was a strong believer in the flow of breezes and their favorable effect on plant growth and health. He built a “puka puka” [vented tile] wall to protect the garden from the full force of the Nu’uanu trades while allowing for good air circulation.

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Goodale and May Moir pictured in their Honolulu garden in 1978. Photo: John A Stevens

Goodale and May Neal were married in 1950 (she had been widowed the previous year) in the Moir Gardens in Po’ipu, Kaua’i. The garden was Goodale’s creation, and was cared for and maintained by his brother Hector and sister-in-law Sandi (Alexandra Liliko’i Knudsen).

For most of Lipolani’s first 18 years the entire garden was given over to orchids in landscape beds – until orchid stem borer reached Hawai’i in the 1950s. In the process of clearing out dead and diseased plants, the Moirs did a major garden renovation, eliminating lawn and replacing it with concrete pavers and basalt stepping stones, while at the same time almost completely enclosing the garden in such a way as to create several courtyards with distinctive characteristics.

After the garden’s orchids were removed, the couple then grew bromeliads on a large scale, although both had grown and loved bromeliads “since they could walk”, and created one of Honolulu’s most celebrated gardens (registered with the Smithsonian Institute). The property was for sale in 2015 – leaving the family for the first time. Read more here.

In his book, Gardens of Hawaii, landscape architect Stephen Haus calls Mrs Moir “the godmother of Hawaii gardeners”. She was visited by garden enthusiasts and landscapers from as far away as Brazil, Bali and Thailand.

A 1979 article in the Journal of the Bromeliad Society by John A Stevens recounts visiting  the Moirs at their home.

“Goodale (as he is known to close friends) has had several hundred articles published on orchids and their hybridising, starting with Dendrobiums, Vandas, Phalaenopsids, Cattleyas, Epidendrums, the Laelinae Tribe, and recently, the Oncidieae. Research and collecting trips for the last-named tribe have taken Goodale to Jamaica and the Caribbean on numerous occasions. His seemingly endless hybridisation of the miniature Oncidiums has been duly recorded in the list of New Orchid Hybrids published regularly by The Orchid Review.

“But … let it be known that Goodale has devoted more and more time in recent years to growing bromeliads, and writing about them, and has possibly 25 or more articles in print on bromeliads, most of them appearing in the Journal of the Bromeliad Society. Goodale’s style has always intrigued me: forceful, concise, sometimes a trifle opinionated.”

Mr Stevens describes Mr Moir as small of stature with a smooth, round face that at times could look “almost Orientally inscrutable”.

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Miltonia Goodale Moir ‘Golden Wonder’ at the 2017 Te Puke Orchid Show. Photo: Sandra Simpson

A note in Mrs Moir’s 1983 book The Garden Watcher said that more new intergeneric orchid species had been created and named in their garden than at any other spot on Earth – interestingly, Mr Moir, who tracked the results of more than 50,000 intergeneric cross attempts that he made over a period of decades, was convinced that the take rates were higher during the two phases of the moon that correspond to rising tides!

In the early 1950s Mr Moir pioneered Tolumnia orchid breeding when he began crossing species he had collected while on business trips in the West Indies. The first 25 years of activity were dominated by his efforts and by the 1970s the potential he was coaxing out of “Moir’s weeds”, as they were called, encouraged others to join the pursuit. The most active being Richard and Stella Mizuta and Robert and Susan Perreira, also of Hawaii. The foundation Mr Moir had painstakingly laid was about to bear fruit. Tolumnia Golden Sunset (Stanley Smith x Tiny Tim) was made by the Perreiras, and registered by Francis Aisaka in 1975. Read more at the American Orchid Society.

Milton O Carpenter, writing in 2000 in the AOS journal, said: “In recent years, we have witnessed the emergence of temperature-tolerant Oncidiinae, a descriptive term that I apply to those plants that will thrive in temperatures from 45 to 100 F [7C-38C]. Pioneering work … was done by the late W. W. Goodale Moir of Hawaii, who registered 273 Oncidiinae intergeneric hybrids in 46 different combinations. Building on Goodale’s foundation, Helmut Rohrl of California, George Black of England, this writer (all protegés of Goodale), and a few others, have been engaged over the past 30 years or so in a continuing exploration of the limitless possibilities within this alliance.” Read more here.

In his Orchids of Asia book (2005), Eng-Soon Teoh writes “W W Goodale Moir of Honolulu dominated the breeding programme of the Oncidium in a way that no one else has been able to do for any other orchid subtribe or genus.”

As well as co-writing a handbook on Hawaiian soils (published in 1936), Mr Moir also contributed to Variegata Oncidiums (1970), Breeding Variegata Oncidiums (1980 – read the chapter on the culture of these plants), Creating Oncidiinae Intergenerics (1982) and Laeliinae Intergenerics (1982), as well as publishing many hundreds of articles on orchids.

Among his awards: Fellowship of the Orchid Society of South East Asia (at the 1966 World Orchid Conference in Los Angeles); Garden Club of America Medal (1973), AOS Silver Medal of Achievement (1982).

Among the orchids he registered with the Royal Horticultural Society were: Cattleya Memoria Goldie C. Moir (1948), Tolumnia lalita Pia (1950), Cattleya Peggy Moir (1951), Tapropapilanthera May Moir (1953), Miltonia Goodale Moir (1954), Oncidium Twinkle (1958), Miltonia May Moir (1959), Vanda Charm (1960), Miltonia Sunset (1961), Miltonia Purple Queen (1961), Vandachostylis Lilac Blossom (1963), Brassia Rex (1964), Miltonia Guanabara (1964), Stanhopea Memoria Paul Allen (1968), Eipcattleya Yucatan ‘Richella’ (1969), Catasetum (Clowesia) Rebecca Northern (1971), Bratonia (Miltonia) Olmec (1975), Bratonia (Miltonia) Aztec (1976), Aliceara Dorothy Oka (1976), Tolumnia Henemoir (1977), Oncidium Gypsy Beauty (1978), Aliceara Tropic Splendor (1981) and Aliceara La Jolla (1983).

Mr Moir died in 1985 and Mrs Moir in 2001, aged 93. Read an obituary for her here.

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Orchid Auction

Tauranga Orchid Society traditionally starts its year with a fun Orchid Auction – to which everyone, club member or not, is most welcome.

This year’s event is on Tuesday, February 20, starting at 7pm in the Wesley Church Hall.

As well as orchids of all types, there will be bromeliads, tillandsias and other other plants, books and magazines, orchid growing gear (including pots and baskets), often there are bags of fruit … our ‘super auctioneer’ Conrad keeps the evening ticking along with plenty of laughs along the way.

Terms of sale are cash only and try to remember to bring some bags or boxes to take your purchases home. When you arrive pick up a bidding number from the recording team, grab a seat and prime your bidding finger! At the end of the evening, grab a cuppa while the recording team tots up then wander over and pay.

Many thanks to all the club members who are donating plants and goods to the auction and to our volunteer team that runs the event.

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Beating the Summer Doldrums

This is the summary of the talk given by Conrad Coenen at our November 2017 meeting and carried in the December newsletter but, given the long spells of heat and humidity we’ve been having, I thought it might be useful as a ‘front-page’ post.

Conrad was addressing how to care for orchids over summer. Please bear in mind that urban Tauranga has been on water restrictions since December 16 – that means no watering outside the hours of 5am-8am and 7pm-10pm. Read the full details of the restrictions here.

Warmer temperatures: Plants control their temperature by respiration and transpiration. Just as we sweat, the plant gives off moisture from holes (or stomata) on the underside of their leaves. Our task is to provide moisture, shade and air movement as close as possible to their natural habitat.

The shape, texture, and colour of the leaf can give guidance to the placement of the plant in your orchid house – plants with large, soft leaves, usually a lighter green/yellow colour (eg, Lycaste), prefer less heat and lower light levels, while smaller, stronger leaves (eg, terete (pencil) foliage types) can handle heat and drier conditions.

Humidity: Many of the problems around temperature can be solved by raising the moisture levels in your orchid-growing area, be it a shade house, courtyard, shelves against the wall, or in your garden.

Damping down (watering floors, benches or walls) regularly on hot summer afternoons will lessen the stress on your orchids, as will providing shallow trays of water, misting, spraying water on the outside of the orchid house. Try not to ‘water’ your plants too often as the roots need the opportunity to dry out. More orchids are killed by over-watering than anything else. One heavy ‘monsoon’ every 4-5 days will be better than a light water every day. Try to organise your orchids into groups that have the same water requirements – dry, medium and wet, to simplify your watering programme. Air movement is very important, so open vents and doors, buy a fan, or hang and place your orchids outside under trees.

Longer sunlight hours: The greater warmth and longer growing time is used by plants to initiate flowering and the plant will require more watering and food. Our NZ summers and early autumns are generally hot and dry, while the natural habitat of most of our orchids is monsoonal, hot and wet. But as many of these orchids are growing higher in the valleys and hillsides, it is hot during the day and cool at night, which are the perfect conditions (around 15-18C) to develop flower spikes. Many orchids can handle high light levels, but remember NZ’s ‘high UV levels’ and protect from burning afternoon sun. Cymbidiums will definitely produce more flowers outside, but make the change gradually to prevent sunburnt leaves.

Drought: A long, hot summer in a black plastic bag or pot, with little water, will dry out and permanently damage the orchid root system.  This can kill or severely retard growth and the production of new shoots or flowers, setting you back many years.

Desiccation: Hot dry winds will force plants to close stomata, to prevent loss of water, so ensure the wind can collect moisture as it moves around the orchid house (water-filled trays).

Feeding: Conrad advises watering plants the day before feeding them. When the bark and roots are damp there will be no chemical burning to the roots and your fertiliser will go much further. Do remember to water your pots regularly with just plain water to flush out any lingering fertiliser salts.

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