The Arizona Orchidist Newsletter 

published by

The Orchid Society Of Arizona, Inc.

Founding Editor Clarence S. Lindsten, 1966 



May's Newletter
     The next regular society monthly meeting will be Thursday, April 6, 2000, at the Valley Garden Center, 1809 N. 15th Avenue, Phoenix, Arizona.  Phone: (602) 252-2120.  The meeting, open to all plant enthusiasts, will start at 7:00 PM.

May’s Program
What goes on at a Community Service Program?  Find out at our May meeting.
There will be a "hands on" demonstration of the Community Service Program, including orchid seedlings to be potted - and taken home - by YOU.  There will be instructions provided on how to make a greenhouse from a milk jug too.  YOU NEED TO BRING, if you want to participate, a clean and sanitized milk jug (this is important!), a clear 2-gallon size plastic bag, and enough lava rock to cover the bottom of the milk jug about one to two inches.  OSA will furnish the orchid seedling, bark and 3" pot. Also - Chance of a Lifetime Opportunity - to see up close and personal, a demonstration on how to propagate Phaius from a flower spike!

         From the President’s Desk
                                Lou Ann Remeikis
I am very pleased to announce three new members to our family.  Georgette Jolivette moved to Arizona from Louisiana where some orchids could be grown outdoors.  Jason Sibley is a familiar face to our group as he usually attends our meetings with his mother, Diana Sibley.  Jason’s interest in orchids fits well with his interest in “exotics”.  I recently discovered he has a couple of large iguanas and several snakes.  Ainsley LaCour attended a couple of our meetings as a guest, and she recently mailed her membership in.  I hope you all enjoy our group!

We have had several updates to the membership roster since it was printed. Please pickup an addendum page at the next meeting, which will include the membership information on our new, and renewing members.  OSA will be providing an addendum page at our meetings on a regular basis for two reasons:  1)  to keep the complete membership roster available to all members; and 2) protect against publishing the updated membership information on our website.  The newsletter is available on our website.  If OSA included new member information in the newsletter, this would publish names, addresses and phone numbers for our members over the web and available to anyone by the click of the computer mouse.  OSA wants to be responsible with the information our membership provides.

Pam Albright is the first person to donate an item for the live annual auction held at our December meeting.  It is never too early to start planning ahead!  For those new members who are not aware of our December meeting, OSA holds a combination Holiday Party/Live Auction.  All live-auctioned items are donations received from individual members or from businesses, which have been solicited for donations.  Thank you, Pam, for your donation and the opportunity to remind our members that the Live Auction is as good as WE, the members, make it!

Pam also addressed the members in attendance at the April meeting about our Community Service Programs.  Pam is correct!  Before I had the opportunity to participate in a Community Service Program I, too, wondered what all the hype was about.  Volunteers were always needed (and still are) to help out with the programs, and the President (Willie, Cathy and now me) was always asking for help.  Once I participated in a program, I want to go to them all.  The joy in these children, the sparkle in their eyes, and the knowledge they soak up so eagerly from these programs is a sight everyone should encounter.  The volunteers who assist with these programs leave with a smile on their faces.  I, unfortunately, cannot take time off from work for all the programs, but I help out as much as I can.  There are a lot of members who could do the same and I cannot tell you in words how much you will gain by helping.  Please check the CSP schedule and volunteer a couple of hours of your time to help during a program.  The fun you will have will benefit you for a long time to come!
Did anyone watch 60 minutes on Sunday, April 9th?  Leslie Stahl did a segment on orchids and some of it was filmed at the San Francisco Orchid Expo.  It was a nice piece, but I think it fell short a bit.  The story, in my opinion, should have encouraged the average person to pursue their love of the flower without worrying about whether they purchase their plants from Home Depot for $20.00 each or from the guy who has received $20,000.00 for one of his prized paphs.  I could relate with the story in that everyone starts off with one orchid  and then they want MORE!   Did anyone recognize some of the people in the segment?  Dennis Olivas was one of our speakers last year!
As indicated at the meeting, the Valley Garden Center’s Board of Directors has increased the dues to all groups utilizing their facility.  The dues have gone up to $10.00 per membership. This increase will NOT be passed on to you as members of the Orchid Society of Arizona.  OSA’ Board decided this added expense would be absorbed from the current membership dues.

I am excited about the Quilt Project Fundraiser.  Julie had a great idea! From the kits that Julie and Glena put together, I am sure this will turn out to be a beautiful quilt.  For those of you who took quilting kits, please try to have them completed by July or August so Julie will have ample time to piece the pieces together and get the quilt quilted!  There may be a few more kits available, so please see Julie at the next meeting if you want to pick up a kit to sew or glue together.

Nelda Caldwell was unable to attend the meeting in April, so she did not hear my words of thanks for making the table centerpiece used at the West Central District Luncheon.  Nelda, thank you!  I know you donated not only your time, but the materials, too!
Janet Jurn, our Refreshment Coordinator, also told me that she received donations of cups from David Wehrli and plastic ware (forks and spoons) from Karen Berger.  Thank you for the supplies.  I also want to thank Janet Jurn too.  Janet never lets us run short on cups, napkins, plates, and plastic ware.  I have never seen Janet submit a receipt for reimbursement and we appreciate her donations.  Janet, we also appreciate you showing up early to the meetings to prepare the refreshment table and making sure we have everything we need to keep our tummies happy!
FYI:  There is a new book out,  can’t say if it is good or bad, which is titled, “Death of an Orchid Lover”.  I do know the book is a     “botanical mystery”  written by Nathan Walpow.        Mr. Walpow has contacted OSA advising that he will be appearing at the Poisoned Pen on Saturday, May 20th, at 7:00 pm to promote this book.  The Poisoned Pen is located at 4014 N. Goldwater Blvd., in Scottsdale.

I look forward to seeing everyone at the next meeting and hope all of you have a safe Memorial  Day weekend!
    Happy Growing!    Lou Ann
by Wilella Stimmell, OSA Treasurer
OSA has several spouse-members whose names you might not recognize, but who nevertheless have been EXTREMELY generous to us. One such member who deserves RECOGNITION and THANKS is JIM  GORDON who, for the past YEAR, has SAVED OUR TREASURY MONEY by permitting us to make copies of our newsletters on the copy machine in his office; diverted his attention away from his job to line up the master copy pages on  the copier; loaned our "grunt" workers his best assistant, Millie, when we ran into trouble with his copier and needed help; furnished ALL of the paper and copier toner for the text pages of our newsletter; and demonstrated MUCH tolerance and patience with mechanically-challenged orchidists. THANK YOU JIM! 

Thanks for the raffle items : 
Peggy Stejskal, Willie Stimmell, Julie Rathbun, Bob MacLeod, Leith Plunkett, Jane Heckel, Keith Mead, Lou Ann Remeikis, and OSA!

Growing Orchids from Seed
One Obsessed Lunatic’s Story
by Aaron J. Hicks
        When people first visit the lab, they ask, “Good heavens.  Where do you sleep, for crying out loud?” After they stop hyperventilating, the questions usually become more mundane (“How do you get the seeds?”  “How do you get them in there?”  “What color did you say this carpet was originally?”)

        Most orchid growers have been spared (mercifully enough) the murky origins of how orchids are grown from seed.  More than a hundred and fifty years ago, the rudiments of how these “parasites” came to be was a mystery; it wasn’t until Noel Bernard successfully demonstrated how the seeds of orchids must become infected with mycorrhizal fungi for them to germinate.  Although orchids are phenomenally fecund, producing hundreds of thousands or millions of seeds in a single capsule, the seeds germinate only under very  specific environmental conditions.  Becoming infected by a suitable fungus is one of these qualifying items that, although certainly uncommon, is an unquantifiable property.  In order to achieve replacement levels, each plant must produce one more before it passes away.  In its lifetime, only one of its seeds would ever grow to maturity to do the same.

        Unfortunately, for man, this is completely unsuitable.  “This is completely unsuitable!” cries man, and goes off to the lab in the same way Tim Allen heads off to the garage, with predictable results.  Lewis Knudson, working off a theory that the presence of sugars caused germination (versus the presence of starches, a theory preferred by others), modified techniques used to grow corn and legumes for use with orchid seeds.  He was first successful with Cattleya mossiae, which was sown on January 14, 1919.  Although published in 1919 in an obscure Spanish journal, his work was virtually ignored until his publication in 1922 in the Botanical Gazette.

        His results were highly controversial, considered virtually heresy by those who were working (not coincidentally) on commercial production of orchids via the symbiotic technique (i.e., growing them with the fungi).  When additional research showed that not only growing orchids, but flowering them while still in sterile flask was possible, the discussion finally faded away.  As a result, virtually all orchids grown in greenhouses today are either wild-collected, or grown from techniques developed by one of the greatest botanical prodigies of this century.  (Knudson ended up  earning two PhD’s, a slew of awards, and was professor of botany at Cornell before was 30.  His career was distinguished, to say the least.)

        The methods by which orchids are grown from seed now are independent from the fungi in question; in fact, the presence of bacteria and fungi on the seeds is anathema to a flasker.  In “flasking,” the seeds are taken either from a green pod that has not yet opened (and are therefore completely sterile), or the dried seeds are chemically treated in with chlorine-based disinfectants until bacteria, fungi, and their spores have been destroyed.  The seeds may then be sown onto sterile nutrient agar media that has a consistency of “Jell-O.” The agar acts as a support, permitting the roots to grow, while supporting the plants; some kinds of cloning (“mericlones” or “meristems”) use liquid media, without this gelling agent.

The media itself is a chemical brew, with nutrients similar to fertilizer, along with some complex compounds such as sugars, plant extracts, and vitamins.  Different media will grow different orchids better and, despite the best efforts of growers everywhere, there are still hundreds of species that have proven difficult to impossible to grow on traditional media.  The beautiful cypripediums (lady’s slippers) of North America were once regarded as impossible to grow reliably; this has changed radically in just the last decade, and virtually all species are available commercially as propagated plants.  The Chinese species are following quickly.  Still, some species are next to impossible to grow, as the achlorophyllous species (those without chlorophyll) are difficult to appease.

        Formulae for germination vary widely; complex additives noted above include banana, pineapple juice, potato cubes, coconut milk, and tomato juice.  More exotic components (from more desperate individuals) include amino acids, fig juice, grapes, raspberries, fish, mushrooms, kiwi fruit, and Concord grapes.

        With luck and patience, the seeds will germinate in the following days or weeks (the record is 17 years).  After germination, they are moved to “replate media,” which provides more sugars- the carbon source the plants use to make cellulose.  Sometimes within months, and almost always within a year, the plantlets will be large enough to remove from the flask and grow in community pots.

        Before doing so, however, everything must be kept sterile.  Flasks must be prepared in an autoclave or pressure cooker to destroy all potential contamination, and all tools and surfaces must be disinfected as well.  The flasking and replate must be performed in a sterile environment as well- be it a glove box or performed in the wash from the filters normally used in microchip fabs to keep the air ultra-clean.  The flasks are vented with special filters or plugs that allow small amounts of air circulation without allowing bacteria or spores inside.

        In all, the Orchid Seedbank Project produces tens of thousands of plantlets every year, ranging from the most common species to those that have yet to be described in taxonomic journals.  We look forward to our relocation in the Phoenix area being one that brings mutual enjoyment- where we can work together to provide a baseline for other growers, as well as sharing the wealth of your ow provide a baseline for other growers, as well as sharing the wealth of your own collection with others.  There are tens of thousands of orchid species, many of which will be gone from the wild without our assistance.  Every grower has something to contribute.

        Thanks.  We look forward to growing with you in the future!

Editor’s Note
Aaron Hicks was our distinguished guest speaker at the April meeting and spoke on the Orchid Seedbank Project, is the author of ASYMBIOTIC TECHNIQUE OF ORCHID SEED GERMINATION, and has recently been appointed to serve on a committee of the World Conservation Union. Their website is http:\\ 

Obsession with Orchids
Shirley Engberg taped the PBS special on orchids, "Obsession with Orchids", shown on   Channel 8 on Sunday, April 16 at 8 p.m.  She will bring her tape to the May meeting. If   any member missed seeing the special, you may borrow the tape from Shirley.

by Wilella Stimmell, CSP Coordinator
On March 21, Shirley Engberg and I presented a program in theActivities Center of the Beatitudes Campus of Care, 1616 W. Glendale, Phoenix. Two groups of BCC residents enjoyed our display of blooming plants and our presentation. 

Valerie Rekve, Shirley, and I shared our excess keikis and plants (a Brassia, a mini-Cattleya, a compact Dendrobium in spike, and several Phalaenopsis keikis) with the residents.  
After we repotted some of the plants, we placed them in a 10-gallon aquarium. The orchids in their new home were then placed on a wheeled cart.  

The ladies who assembled for our program asked many questions about orchid culture, and many wanted to know where they could buy more plants in bloom. Of course, we invited them to attend our annual November orchid show!

Before we departed, we mentioned to Karen Belzer, Activities Director, that the aquarium needed a cover. Because one of the plants had a bloom spike that extended above the top of the aquarium, a flat piece of clear plastic could not be used. Among the options of recycled items we suggested, Karen seemed to favor using a clear plastic "lid" from a large sheet cake. In fact, there was a twinkle in her eyes as she offered to make the supreme "sacrifice" and immediately buy a cake so that she could save the lid!

Programs presented for adult audiences can usually be handled by two OSA team members. However, other members are ALWAYS welcome to attend as observers, visit with the members of the audience, and loan blooming plants for our display. Although Seniors might have gray or white hair and walk with a slow, sometimes painful gait, they appreciate ANY effort made by others on their behalf.

(A report on the programs presented for Alice Byrne School and a 4-H group in Yuma on April 28 and 29 and the programs presented on May 12 for Bellair Elementary in Glendale, will appear in our June newsletter.)

Virtual Goodies
This month’s website comes to us from              
                              Norma Kafer
The site:
The Exotic Orchids of Maui

The Address:
A nice layout and very easy to navigate as well as pictures of what your buying!  Always a plus!!!

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