The Arizona Orchidist Newsletter 

published by

The Orchid Society Of Arizona, Inc.

Founding Editor Clarence S. Lindsten, 1966 



The Arizona Orchidist
April  2000

April’s Program

Speaker Aaron J. Hicks

A recent refugee from Socorro, New Mexico, Aaron J. Hicks is the current director of the Orchid seed bank Project, now of Chandler, Arizona.

     Largely considered the most dangerous seed bank in the entire southwest,  the OSP has been busy collecting and redistributing orchid species seed for  the purpose of conservation since 1996. In this period of time, the OSP has  amassed a collection of over ten million seeds of several hundred species, and produced hundreds of thousands of propagules for researchers, conservationists, commercial growers, and hobbyists.     With a book, several articles, and over 6,000 half-finished manuscripts written on coffee napkins to his name, he is only able to deliver lectures  twice a year due to time constraints. Speaking on the Orchid Seed bank Project and how orchids are propagated by seed, Aaron will be certain to lull you to sleep in no time flat.
Biography by Aaron J. Hicks

From the Desk of the President
I was very pleased to see the wonderful turnout at our March meeting!  I hope all our guests and visitors found our family informative and friendly.  I wish I had found the opportunity to visit with everyone, but with so many in attendance it was not possible.  I sincerely hope those guests and visitors had an opportunity to see how much fun we have and were able to take home an orchid treasure from either the raffle table or the silent auction.  We sure had enough to go around!
The reason we had enough to go around was greatly due to the team who went to San Francisco and attended the Pacific Orchid Expo.  As a first timer  (see my summary of the trip in this newsletter), I can tell you there was a lot of work that went into obtaining the plants we did, and the Society benefits because of it.  It was a labor of love!
OSA participated in the Spring Garden Party at Gardener’s World on March 11th.  Although we did not sell plants at this event, we did have a nice group of people interested in hearing about orchids and how they can be cared for in the desert environment of Arizona.  Willie and I conducted the presentation, of course bringing a nice selection of blooming display plants.  The audience had some wonderful questions and were quite surprised to see that orchids CAN be successfully grown here.
Before I forget,  I want to thank Karen Berger for contributing to the refreshments at our March meeting.  I completely forgot to mention Karen in last month’s newsletter, and although it didn’t seem to bother Karen, it bothered me that I neglected to give her credit for her contribution.
I want to welcome two new members to our Society.  Valerie Toliver and Dawn Schroeder joined our orchid family during last month’s meeting.  Both ladies have been growing orchids for about a year  and we all know what that means, they’ve been bitten by the orchid bug!  I remember Dawn was a guest at the February meeting, as I did get a chance to introduce myself to her at that time.  Valerie brought her orchids to the meeting in March for a health evaluation as she was worried about her cultivation.  As it turned out she is doing a pretty fine job!  I hope you enjoy our group as much as I do, and please let us know if we can help you out in any way.  Consider yourself officially welcomed!
I wish to thank Natalie Warford again for her hospitality to our March speaker, Dr. German Carnevali, and January’s speaker, Gustavo Romero.  Not only did Natalie provide a place for our guests to stay and provide their meals, she even drove Dr. Carnevali to the Grand Canyon and played Arizona Ambassador.  I know Natalie has long been friends with both of these speakers, but I truly appreciate what she did for the Society by hosting them during their trips to Arizona.  Our membership thoroughly enjoyed the presentations made by German and Gustavo, and our members received some interesting first-hand information from these knowledgeable men.  I was very honored to have met them, and feel I have made two new friends by knowing them.
The Orchid Society of Arizona has a number of upcoming events and activities.  April will be a busy month for our Society in regards to our Community Service Programs.  (See Willie’s report)
OSA will be at the Home Base Store, at 90th Street & Shea, Scottsdale, offering assistance and information to their customers over the Easter weekend (April 22 & 23rd) from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm.  Home Base will have a new shipment of orchids available for purchase that weekend, so if you are in the buying mood don’t forget to stop by.  If you would like to help offer assistance to their customers, you are more than welcome to stop by and stay awhile too!
A caravan full of volunteers and orchid seedlings will also be going to Yuma on April 28th for a program presentation, and staying until Saturday when another presentation will be conducted before returning home.  You will be able to read about OSA’s efforts at the Home Base store and the various Community Service Program presentations scheduled for April in the May Newsletter.
Until then-Happy Growing,  Lou Ann

March Raffle Donations by:            OSA, Wilella Stimmell, Lou Remeikis, Peggy Stejskal and Sam Promarug (Siam Orchids).

By  Lou Ann Remeikis
San Francisco, what can I say about it?  Not much because I spent most of my time milling about thousands of orchids!  The Pacific Orchid Expo was held at Fort Mason, which is an old military base.  The orchid show completely filled a building that was situated on a pier jutting out into the bay.  After entering the building from the front entrance, I was treated to the orchid display area.  The vendors used their creative talents to put together some of the most intriguing sets to showcase their plants.  There was a Mayan ruin complete with crumbling stone pillars and tropical tree roots entwined in the pillars with orchids perfectly placed in the scene. It looked as if they had been growing there for generations.  There was a space ship complete with a time capsule of orchid related items to be opened sometime in the future to show future generations what life with orchids were like during the Millennium.  One of the orchid societies put together a vignette showing the Golden Gate Bridge complete with boats and barges floating in the bay and orchids adorning the set.  A very large wardian case was filled with beautiful small orchids,  all in bloom,  within it a small stream trickling down a volcanic mountain.  I could go on and on about the displays (but it would cost a lot more to mail this newsletter if I did).
Another point of interest to the Pacific Orchid Expo was the display of cut orchid flower arrangements.  I attempted to take photos of these artistically produced displays but I know they would never do the creations justice to be seen in a photo.  A couple of the arrangements were almost as tall as I am, and were accented with curly willow and other botanical ornaments.  Words just CANNOT relate to you the beauty of these arrangements!
Once I exited the display area, I walked into the vast area set up for sales by the vendors who were participating in the Expo.  According to the show pamphlet there were in excess of sixty (60) vendors selling their orchids. There were a couple of vendors selling potting material and ceramic orchid pots, and one vendor selling writing stationery, but everyone else was selling ORCHIDS !!!  There were common orchids, there were uncommon orchids, and there were very rare orchids found throughout the show.  The only thing that would stop you from getting the orchid you wanted was the price, but only for those rare orchids you found.  Most vendors were fairly competitive in price and, with just a few exceptions, most were affordable.  There were magnificent specimens of Vandas,  particularly from Siam Orchids (one vendor who donated plants to OSA , and gave us great deals for the Society).  Nobile dendrobiums were very abundant  in any color you could imagine.  The fragrance in the building was magnificent!
It did rain every day we were there, and all of us (Wilella Stimmell, Norma Kafer, Jim Gordon, Del Pace and myself) got very wet and cold, but there were never complaints because we enjoyed the weekend so much.  Well, maybe there was a complaint or two (about me) but I was gone by then.  My flight back to Phoenix was a day earlier than everyone else’s due to the fact I had unavoidable training (work related) on Monday.  I, therefore, missed out on the real work of the weekend,  individually wrapping and packing the 177 plants and humping them back to Phoenix.  (Our orchid shipment did go to the airport in style,  limo style that is!)  I did bring a few back, but what I brought back in a couple of suitcases was nothing compared to the work that went into preparing the majority of plants for transportation back to Phoenix.  I have promised not to run out a day early next year.  The Pacific Orchid Expo is an orchid show definitely worth attending and anyone who enjoys orchids could not be disappointed by this show!

Virtual Goodies
This month’s website comes to us from              
                              Connie Hall
The site:
Chula Orchids

The Address:
This site belongs to Harry Tolen, a member of the OSA and a commercial grower.  Not too many pictures, but a lot of stuff to buy!

Selby Vignette
Reflections on Paphiopedilum rothschildianum (Rchb.f.) Stein
John T. Atwood, Director Orchid Identification Center
 Paphiopedilum rothschildianum gets plenty of press, but I would like to share some of my own experience with it based on a wild population. On display at Selby Gardens is a magnificent plant of P. rothschildianum with five inflorescences sporting 16 buds and flowers. Two inflorescences hold four flowers, although five flowers have been recorded in cultivated plants. Sixteen years ago Libby Besse* and I documented how the flowers of Paphiopedilum rothschildianum work over a six-week period. In wild plants we noted a maximum of three flowers per inflorescence, but an El Niño during the previous season may have diminished flower production. We were happy to have a total floral display from several clones of 23 flowers, and nowhere did we see a single plant with 16! A large floral display is required for observing pollination.
 During this the first documentation of natural pollination biology in the genus, we found that the flowers were pollinated by females of a relatively large (if unspectacular) hoverfly, Dideopsis aegrota. Actually the insects rarely land on the flower, but usually do so on the odd “bee’s knees” staminode (modified sterile stamen)where they deposit eggs. We documented a maximum of 76 eggs on one staminode perhaps indicating as many visits. Only 8 percent of the time did the insect actually fall into the lip, thereby assuring passage first by the stigma then by the anther. Each of 10 senesced flowers examined had a pollen smear on the stigma suggesting 100% pollination, an odd success story for what turns out to be another system of attraction by deceit. But examination of old infructescences from the previous year with capsules occupying virtually all floral seats supported our pollination success story. With aged flowers falling away from the plant, one might expect the hatching larvae to take advantage of decaying tissues. We expected to find such flowers crawling with maggots, but only a single larva the size of an egg was seen. There was nothing in the flower for the larva! We later learned that the larvae feed only on aphids, so the logical hypothesis was that the flower (perhaps the odd bulb-shaped hairs of the staminode) mimics an aphid colony. Sometimes called brood place deception, the natural pollination of this orchid is uncommonly efficient. Unlike a food deception for the actual pollinator, our hoverfly seems never to learn that her children will not be fed, and therefore makes repeated visits.
 Unhappily this population fell victim to over-collection in 1986-1987; the remaining plants to a massive forest fire. After being ravaged by collectors, an attempt was made to restock the habitat in 1987 with nursery grown material. The entire hill was soon totally burned mocking restoration efforts and discouraging prospects for in situ conservation at this site. 
 Most orchids lack the attractiveness, rarity, and demand to imperil them, but our experience with P. rothschildianum demonstrated what human activity can do to desirable orchids. Based on one season’s observations, it is difficult to know if Dideopsis aegrota is the sole pollinator of this orchid. But we will never again have the chance to answer the question from this habitat.       
Editor’s Note:  Phragmipedium besseae was named after Libby Besse, who was a vounteer and board member at Selby until taking another position elsewhere. 


by Wilella Stimmell, CSP Coordinator

On March 7, Pam Albright, Shirley Engberg, Julie Rathbun, and I presented two programs for 1st grade students at Khalsa Elementary School, 2536 N. 3rd St., Phoenix. Rick Reeker, teacher of the first class that participated in our hands_on program, suggested that we set up our display of blooming plants in one room and then rotate the classes in and out of that room. Although his plan saved us from moving plants and supplies from one room to another, the table space in the room Rick selected, was limited. Prior to repotting their seedlings, the children were seated on the floor in front of our display plants. The students were fascinated by the various shapes and colors of the flowers, and they asked questions which revealed that they had acquired some background information on the natural world. When the word “epiphyte” was mentioned, one boy immediately
asked, “What’s the difference between an epiphyte and a parasite?” Following the conclusion of our brief discussion period, we repeated the questions we had previously asked. The students answered in unison with 100% accuracy! Their enthusiasm for orchids was a joy to witness.
When the children started to repot their seedlings, it became obvious that the small work tables presented a problem. We were grateful that the students exercised patience while we figured out
how best to organize an assembly line in cramped quarters. We were amazed that as the students returned to their classrooms with their seedlings, none of the seedlings were spilled onto the floor.

At least once per program, one of our team members feels compelled to mention the fact that I have a worm “tenement” in my kitchen. Omar, one of the boys participating in our second program, was very excited when he heard about the worms, and he asked with great passion in his voice whether he could have worms. Anything is possible!

(A report on the program presented on March 21 at the BEATITUDES, 1616 W. Glendale, Phoenix, will appear in our May newsletter.) 

We are still taking “reservations” for program team members to help with the presentations for students at ALICE BYRNE SCHOOL in Yuma. We will depart Phoenix early in the morning on April 28, expect to arrive in Yuma around noon, and will then present two programs in the afternoon. We will stay overnight in Yuma, and in the morning on April 29, we will work with members of a 4H youth group. We have been informed that members of the Western District
of the Arizona Federation of Garden Club are spreading the word that OSA is coming to town. If the administration at Alice Byrne School grants permission for adults to attend the classes as observers, we would then, in a real sense, also be presenting community service programs for yet another group in Yuma. However, the adults would not participate in the hands-on portions of our programs. 


On May 12, we will present two programs for 3rd grade students at BELLAIR ELEMENTARY SCHOOL, 4701 W. Grovers, Glendale. The first program will begin at 10:00 AM and the second at 11:00 AM. These programs are the result of a teacher having made contact with us at the Chinese Cultural Festival.

On May 18, we will journey to Holbrook, where we will spend the night. The following morning, we will present programs for the entire student body of JOSEPH CITY ELEMENTARY SCHOOL. Students AND teachers are anxiously anticipating our arrival. Students, teachers,
AND parents in rural areas are especially appreciative of any special efforts made on their behalf. We are taking “reservations” for program team members to assist with the Joseph City programs.
“Qualifications” necessary for team members: BREATHING!

CULTURE CORNER: Spotlight on Phaius tankervilleae (grandifolius)
by Wilella Stimmell

Most orchid growers have wish lists, and on my wish list for many years had been Phaius tankervilleae, the common name for which is Nun’s Orchid. A well-grown plant in glorious bloom is a marvelous sight to behold. Over the years, I’ve seen huge blooming plants for sale at orchid shows as far afield from the Phoenix Metro area as Boston, New York City, and Washington, D.C. But HOW I would get the plant home without damaging the bloom spike was never a real problem.  There was always some feature about the plants I saw that I didn’t like (the leaves were marred, the flowers were already starting to fade, etc.) However, this year during my annual trek to Pacific Orchid Exposition in San Francisco, I saw a stately Phaius tankervilleae that I found positively irresistible. EVERYTHING about the plant appealed to me. I never once considered the fact that it would be difficult to transport a plant that was 4’ tall from the tips of the roots to the top of the inflorescence. My largest suitcase served as the packing case for my Phaius. It became clear to me when I gently laid the plant on its side that there was a foot more of a flower spike than suitcase and that the inflorescence would need to be bent. The good news is that the flower spike did NOT break when I bent it NOR during transport in the cargo bay of the airplane. I had taped the pot to one end of the suitcase so that no matter if the baggage handlers pitched the suitcase, the pot couldn’t shift and break the spike. I also taped the flower spike to the bottom of the suitcase and added LOTS of bubble wrap to protect the spike. Unfortunately, my suitcase, with the precious Phaius inside, arrived in Phoenix a day before I did. The spike remained (in the fetal position) inside my suitcase for approximately two days _ long enough for the spike to adapt to its new shape: the letter S!! But I still love it and am not sorry I own it.

Please note: The close-up picture of a P. tankervilleae flower from MY plant is NOT a flower from the huge plant in the full-length photo beside it.  
Why is Phaius tankervilleae commonly referred to as the Nun’s Orchid? The most frequently encountered explanation is that the hooded flowers are reminiscent of a nun’s veil.
The genus Phaius was first introduced into cultivation 200 years ago, when John Fothergill brought the plant from China to England. Since then, growers around the world have had success cultivating various Phaius species and hybrids. There are both epiphytic and terrestrial species; however, the epiphytic species are seldom grown. Terrestrial species are native to tropical Africa, Asia, Australia, China, Japan, and Madagascar. 

Phaius tankervilleae tolerates a wide range of temperatures _ from 40 degrees F to 95 degrees F, but is generally considered a warm grower. (I read an e-mail report that during a recent temperature drop into the 30’s in the south Florida area, a grower left his Nun’s orchid outside because “these plants are tough.”.  Temperature extremes can affect both growth rate and the initiation of the flower spike. High humidity and warm temperatures favor good growth.  A variety of potting mixes have been recommended for Phaius. See the bibliography following this article for sources where you can find diverse opinions on the “best” potting mix for Phaius.

Keep the potting mix evenly moist until the new growth matures. At that time, and for approximately a month thereafter, water less frequently and only enough to keep the pseudobulbs from becoming shriveled.


Fertilize during the growing season from April to August, but for best flower production, give the plant a rest after October for two months. (The bloom cycle is initiated by short days.) 
If Phaius is exposed constantly to more than 2000 foot candles of light, it might need to be  fertilized more often to maintain plant vigor.
Plants can be propagated by division (after the blooms fade) or by cutting the flower stem at the base at one end and just below the first flower. The stem section can then be laid on moist moss. 
Plantlets can emerge from each bud along the stem, and when they have developed roots, the baby plants can be removed from the stem.  (This method of propagation can also be used with Phalaenopsis flower stems. Essentially the same procedure can be used to propagate Dendrobium plants, but in that case canes, not flower stems are used.)

For those of you who purchased Phaius Bebe Chien plants on our March silent auction: The pod parent of this hybrid was Phaius pulcher, a terrestrial native to Madagascar, and the pollen parent was Phaius grandifolius (tankervilleae). The hybrid was registered by Castillon in 1984. The address for J.B. Castillon is (or was _ he is not listed in the SANDER’S LIST for 1991_1996) Tampon, La Reunion, Ocean Indien, France. Madagascar and the Reunion Islands are “neighbors”
in the Indian Ocean.


ENCYCLOPEDIA OF HORTICULTURE. New York: Garland Publishing, Vol.
8, pages 2580_2582. 1981.

DICTIONARY MANUAL OF ORCHIDS. Portland, Oregon: Timber Press,
pages 276_277. 1995.

Northen, Rebecca. HOME ORCHID GROWING. New York: Prentice Hall,
pages 272_273. 1990. Fourth Edition.

Portland, Oregon: Timber Press, pages 223_224. 1992.

Portland, Oregon: Timber Press, pages 286_287. 1994.
Internet: Jay Pfahl’s Orchid Species Encyclopedia.

OSA thanks the following businesses for the overwhelming generosity they extended to our Society while we attended the Pacific Orchid Expo in San Francisco, CA.  They not only gave OSA’s representatives some GREAT deals on orchids, but also offered donations to our cause!            
Siam Orchids (Sam Promarug), 735 Crenshaw, Pasadena, TX, 713-487-1048
Bergstrom Orchids (Bill Bergstrom), POBox 1502, Keaau, HI  96749            
E-mail:      Website: ttp://
Exotic Orchids of Maui (Mike and Carol Blietz), 3141 Ua Noe Place,            Haiku, HI  96708
E-mail:     Website: ttp://
Rolfe Horticulture (Steve Skoien), POBox 255, Mountain View, HI 96711           
E-mail:     Website: ttp://

WHO IS PAUL MARTIN BROWN?  Thanks to Ann Cherny for sharing an article that appeared in the January 8 issue of "The Gainesville Sun", gardening section. Brown is a research associate at the University of Florida Herbarium and is also the editor of the quarterly NORTH AMERICAN NATIVE  ORCHID JOURNAL. He is nearing completion on a comprehensive guide to the 113 native orchids of Florida. The guidebook will feature every species with a line drawing and photograph. Brown is the photographer. Stan Folsom is the botanical illustrator who collaborated with Brown on their previous publication, WILD ORCHIDS OF THE NORTHEASTERN UNITED STATES, published in 1997 by Cornell University Press.  Folsom has accompanied Brown in traversing nearly the entire state of Florida, to research habitats for the upcoming native orchid guide. This article will be available for viewing at our April meeting.
"We cannot preserve what we don't know we have."  Paul Martin Brown

LETTER OF APPRECIATION FOR OSA'S DONATION TO OIC:  In a letter dated January 27, John Atwood, Director of the Orchid Identification Center, thanked our society for generously donating funds for the purpose of purchasing several microfiche collections. 
"As always, we thank the members of the Orchid Society of Arizona in times of need. The microfiche having been on our 'wish list' for several years will fill a major gap in our literature. We also hope that the OSA will enjoy articles written by the OIC with illustrations scanned by a scanner also donated by your society."

HAWAII SHOW SCHEDULE FOR 2000 AVAILABLE:  Thanks to Wilbur Chang for sending us the show schedule. If you're planning a trip to Hawaii, pick up a show schedule at our April meeting and plan your trip to paradise to coincide with one of the many shows on the islands and/or...attend a society meeting while you're in Hawaii. All haoles (Hawaiian for newcomer) are welcome! Right, Wilbur?

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