The Arizona Orchidist
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,
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
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
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
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
REPORT OF A FIRST-TIMER TO THE PACIFIC ORCHID EXPO
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
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!
This month’s website comes to us from
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!
Reflections on Paphiopedilum rothschildianum (Rchb.f.)
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.
OSA COMMUNITY SERVICE REPORT
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
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.
SCHEDULED FOR MAY:
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
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
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.
(ADJUST WATERING PRACTICES TO: THE MEDIUM, THE COMPOSITION
CONTAINER, AND THE HUMIDITY, LIGHT, TEMPERATURE, AND
IN THE GROWING AREA.)
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.
Everett, Thomas H. THE NEW YORK BOTANICAL GARDEN ILLUSTRATED
ENCYCLOPEDIA OF HORTICULTURE. New York: Garland Publishing,
8, pages 2580_2582. 1981.
Griffiths, Mark. Series Editor. THE NEW ROYAL HORTICULTURAL
DICTIONARY MANUAL OF ORCHIDS. Portland, Oregon: Timber
pages 276_277. 1995.
Northen, Rebecca. HOME ORCHID GROWING. New York: Prentice
pages 272_273. 1990. Fourth Edition.
Pridgeon, Alec. Editor. THE ILLUSTRATED ENCYCLOPEDIA
Portland, Oregon: Timber Press, pages 223_224. 1992.
Sheehan, Tom and Marion. AN ILLUSTRATED SURVEY OF ORCHID
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,
Bergstrom Orchids (Bill Bergstrom), POBox 1502, Keaau,
Website: http://bergstromorchids.com ttp://bergstromorchids.com/
Exotic Orchids of Maui (Mike and Carol Blietz), 3141
Ua Noe Place,
Haiku, HI 96708
Website: http://www.mauiorchids.com ttp://www.mauiorchids.com/
Rolfe Horticulture (Steve Skoien), POBox 255, Mountain
View, HI 96711
Website: http://www.rolfehort.com ttp://www.rolfehort.com/
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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