The Arizona Orchidist Newsletter 

published by

The Orchid Society Of Arizona, Inc.

Founding Editor Clarence S. Lindsten, 1966 



The Arizona Orchidist Newsletter October 1999

The next Board meeting will be held on Sunday, October 3, and is hosted by Nelda Caldwell.  Her address is 1825 Palmcroft NW, Phoenix. Phone:602-257-8622 Time:   1 PM

As always, the meeting is open to all members.

The next regular society monthly meeting will be Thursday, October 7, 1999, at the Valley Garden Center, 1809 N. 15th Avenue, Phoenix, Arizona, (phone 252-2120).  The meeting, open to all plant enthusiasts, will start at 7:00 P.M.

Refreshments will be provided by:  Ashley Schwimmer -- beverage; Sam Weinschenk and Maura Roberts -- edibles.  A special thanks to our Refreshment Coordinator Janet Jurn.

Grower on call for October is Catherine Nelson, 602-864-6919

OSA web site is http://welcome.to/orchidsocietyaz


Dr. Guido J. Braem from Germany

Dr. Braem received his doctorate at the department of Plant Biology of the University of Newcastle upon Tyne/England.  Thesis:  The taxonomy of plants formerly referred to Oncidium Section Oncidium (Orchidaceae) in the Caribbean Islands.  The thesis included work on general morphology, cytogenetics. biochemistry, ecology, population ecology, electron microscopy and numerical taxonomy. From 1997 to the present, Dr. Braem has been Research Associate, California Academy of Sciences, Botany and Philosophy and History of Sciences.  He is Director of the Schlechter Institute registered as bona fide Research Institute by the German Authorities.   He is Scientific Responsible Editor of Orchis (Italy), Contributing Editor The Pleurothallid Alliance News, Editor and Publisher of the Leaflets of the Schlechter Institute.  Dr. Braem has written many books and journal articles which are too numerous to count.

2nd     Dee MacLeod and Kathleen Luther
6th     Dean Becraft
8th     Emiko Watanabe
11th    Chuck Russell and Alan Wren
13th    Carl Hom
16th    Ed Gamarano
21st    Keith Mead
26th    Peter Heckel
27th    Annette Hurst and Anne Girand

Lou Ann Remeikis

I wish to thank Joe Civello for his presentation given to the group at the September meeting.  I think we all enjoyed his discussion on the way he raises compact and miniature orchids.  Joe has a lot of very practical information on setting up a growing area in a home environment that most of us can utilize in growing our own collection.  His informed description of the lighting set-up he has was very interesting and helpful.  Thanks, Joe!

By the time we all receive this newsletter, the San Diego trip will have come and gone.  I'm sure it will be enjoyed by all who made the trip, and we'll have more information about our adventure in next month's newsletter. I appreciate the response received at the impromptu live auction we had at last month's meeting.  For those of you who were not in attendance, John Atwood (of Selby Botanical Garden and the Orchid Identification Center) provided two divisions of a specimen plant that he received many years ago
from a private collector.  The divisions of C. skinneri alba "Stardust" brought a very generous dollar figure that will benefit the Orchid Identification Center in our Society's name.  Natalie (Warford), we appreciate you humping the plants back from Florida for the cause! OSA members also had a very nice silent auction to bid on at September's meeting.  Ed Gamarano is thinning out his greenhouse in anticipation of a new home purchase.  Ed told me they would not be taking their greenhouse and he was just keeping some of his "special" plants.  By the look of the silent auction table, he provided our members with some "special" plants that we
can all enjoy!  Thanks, Ed! Also, a big heartfelt thanks for my birthday cake and song!  I was totally surprised!  And I swear Willie knows where to get anything with orchids on it.  Those orchid decorations on the cake are so cute! Nelda Caldwell, our host for the next board meeting, just got back from the Sedona area.  Nelda had to miss the Valley Garden Center's Board meeting due to the trip, but Willie graciously filled in during Nelda's absence.  Thanks Willie!  Nelda, I hope you didn't feel obligated to host the OSA Board meeting because you were unable to attend the VGC meeting as our representative!  However, we do appreciate you offering your home to accommodate the meeting. The Valley Garden Center will be hosting the Fall Plant Sale & Garden Walk
on Sunday, October 17th, from 9 AM to 4 PM.  Many of the garden clubs will be participating, and OSA will too!  Julie Rathbun and myself will be manning a display table for the Society and providing information to visitors on orchids and how they can be grown-even in Arizona!  We will NOT have plants for sale.  This function will be so close to our show date, where we WILL have plants for sale, that the Board decided to participate but only in providing a display and information.  Please feel free to stop by and chat with Julie and myself, or other visitors to the festivities, and see what the other groups are doing. The VGC is also asking for contributions to their "white elephant sale" to be held at the Festival.  If you have anything you would like to donate, please bring them to the October meeting or you can drop them off at the VGC the week before the event.   Items such as potted plants, seeds, corms, rhizomes, books and magazines (with gardening in mind)  are suggested as white elephant donations.
The raffle table was bountiful again this last month.  Thanks go to those who donated items for the raffle table:  OSA, Willie Stimmell, Ed Gamarano, Jane Heckel, Natalie Warford, Lois Sauer, and Fred Meyer Marketplace Garden Shop.  And, of course, thanks to those who purchased the raffle tickets! Jane and Pete Heckel made a donation of a box of large clear plastic bags to be used for the community service presentations.  These are always in short demand, and we usually tell the kids to provide their own once they get home with their "little greenhouse" and seedling.  I also should tell you that Willie informed me that she only has one opening left for a community service program for the rest of this year!  (That is only at the time of this writing).  The date available is the last week in October, the 29th if I'm not mistaken.  The calendar is also filling up for 2000!  If you know of a group who is wanting OSA to present a program, please provide them with Willie Stimmell's phone number so a date can be set.
I look forward to seeing everyone at October's meeting (Thursday, October 7th)!  Until then Happy Growing -  Lou Ann

The Nominating Committee's Slate of Officers and Trustees for the Year 2000

The election of OSA's Board of Directors for 2,000 will be held during our November 4th, 1999, regular monthly meeting.  The Nominating Committee is pleased to present the following list of candidates:

President       Lou Ann Remeikis
First Vice President    Bob MacLeod
(In-house Program Chairman)
Second Vice President   Norma Kafer
(Outside speaker Program Chairman)
Secretary       Jane Heckel
Treasurer       Keith Mead
Trustee Jennifer Hall   (Term expires 12/01)
Trustee Nelda Caldwell  (Term expires 12/01)

The Nominating Committee is encouraged by the ever-increasing number of newer OSA members who fully understand that maintaining our status as a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization is predicated on our continuing focus on community service.

We believe the slate we have proposed for the upcoming election represents a strong, united, and dynamic team. All members of OSA thank the two retiring Trustees for their dedicated service:  Kathleen Luther and Peggy Stejskal.

Our other two Trustees, Julie Rathbun and Maura Roberts, will continue to serve until their terms expire in 12/00.

Respectfully submitted by:  Ann Cherny (Chairman), Ed Gamarano, and Wilella Stimmell

By Natalie M. Warford

In late May, 1999, "Selby" had a happening that challenged the notoriety of the new baby Panda. Two plants of a spectacular rare aroid, Amorphophallus titanum, often called the largest flowered plant in the world, had bloomed and attracted crowds numbering 15,000 visitors. These plants are rarely synchronized even in nature, and each plant is on its own timetable. Having two in flower side by side has never been documented before and has never
occurred in cultivation. The spadix, the technical term for the fleshy, unbranched inflorescence, can be taller than a girl on a stepladder (see color insert). The red petal-like structure at the base is actually a bract, referred to as a spathe. Small individual flowers are located around the basal portion of the spadix; the lower clusters are female and the upper ones males, with a pause between flowering times so that the flowers of a single plant cannot be self-pollinated. Since Selby had two plants in flower within four days of each other, it was possible to manually pollinate the female flowers of the second inflorescence with pollen collected from the male flowers of the first plant to flower. For reasons unknown to mere mortals, some natural pollinators are obsessively attracted to foul odors such as that
characteristic of this unusual aroid. The flowers generate a high heat during this period to create the odor, which is so strong it is broadcast for miles to attract the pollinator that, it is speculated, is a carrion beetle or sweat bee. So much plant energy is expended that the spadix becomes infertile after two days, begins to droop, and the plant waits until the next multi-year cycle to fulfill its powerful, smelly instinct to procreate. If the plant has been successful in its quest to produce seed, the seed will be in the form of olive-shaped fruits, which will turn bright red at maturity. The Selby plants were grown from seed collected in 1992 by Dr. James Symon who distributed them to other botanical gardens as well. Several have flowered and been seen in the news recently.  The first plants to flower were at Kew Gardens, England, in 1887, but young Victorian ladies were not allowed entry to the exhibit which was described as the Indecent Stinkhorn Fungus. Amorphophallus titanum was discovered in 1878 by Italian botanist, Dr. Odoardo Beccari, in Sumatera (Sumatra), Indonesia.  See Donna Atwood's magnificent photography of this curious aroid in the color insert in this issue of our monthly Arizona Orchidist.  Donna (Mrs. John Atwood) is the keeper of plant records at Selby. She informs that the original text of the Selby brochure about Amorphophallus titanum was written by George Weich, Director of Horticluture, and re-written by John Atwood to shorten it.  It was further edited down to brochure size by Donna. I have further downsized the text to fit our own Arizona Orchidist. We show only a few of the wonderful series of photos
taken by Donna to document the development of both plants of the unusual, very unusual, aroid. MORE ABOUT SELBY   Selby Gardens is best known for its living collection of over 6,000 orchids. Those in flower are exhibited in the beautiful TROPICAL DISPLAY HOUSE. A pleasant day can be spent strolling through 8.5 acres of the Selby bayfront grounds which feature such exotica as the big oaks dripping with Spanish Moss, numerous ferns and bromeliads, and orchids. A great place for lunch is beneath the shade of the huge BANYAN GROVE. Other sights to see are the BUTTERFLY GARDEN, BAMBOO PAVILLION, KOI POND, SUCCULENT GARDEN, CYCAD COLLECTION, BROMELIAD DISPLAY, PALM GROVE, and the BAYWALK where a series of above water wooden walkways show us what goes on in the Mangrove ecology. Enthusiastic volunteers from the membership attend
to the sales in the book and gift shop (once the home of the Selbys) and in the plant sales center with some stunning big and little plants for sale (at good prices). Volunteers also attend to the museum which is located in the antebellum style house, situated at the turn off onto Palm Avenue. Volunteers also help out in the library, Selby offices and in the herbarium of the Research Center by mounting dried specimens sent in from everywhere. Selby attracts its loyal following through its community oriented teaching programs and entertainment for those of all ages. Trips are often available to members and non-members through Selby Travelers International. An exciting one to Costa Rica is scheduled for mid-February, 2000. Meg Lowman, Selby's Director of of Research and Conservation, will lead the way. The
tour will feature (to mention just a few) a visit to Lankester Gardens (sister gardens to Selby Gardens), Monte Verde Cloud Forest Reserve, Carara National Park, and a trip through the forest canopy via the Aerial Tram. Meg's recently published book on the wonders of the cloud forest canopy was on display in the bookshop.  Anyone interested in joining the fun can call (941) 924-1124 or (941) 923-9366 for more information. THE SELBY ORCHID IDENTIFICATION CENTER (OIC) is under the direction of Dr. John Atwood who was one of our guest speakers last year. John is a taxonomist (plant describer) of world renown, and a prolific author of many papers and floras, including the recently published Fieldiana (Field Museum of Natural History) Flora Costaricensis, with Dora Emilia Mura de Retana of the Lankester gardens in Costa Rica. John kindly gifted our society with a copy of this valuable work. Glance through or read it to get an idea of the amount of labor and knowledge that went into it.  (When Wilella and I took John up to the Grand Canyon last year, he could look at a patch of ground and tell us the scientific name of every inhabitant. We nodded our heads in wonder.) The OIC includes a nearly complete reference library including a special room for rare books and an herbarium containing thousands of pressed specimens and pickled specimens, the latter usually referred to as the spirit collection, dating back to the time of Lindley, Darwin and others,
who put their study subjects into a glass of wine to preserve them.  For whatever reason, this refreshing method was discontinued and now specimens are preserved in alcohol with a little added glycerine to keep them from becoming brittle. The specimens are used in determining orchid identifications, or finding proof of a new species. The OIC is visited by many researchers (including yours truly) from the United States and abroad. I was the courier for some preserved orchid specimens which our own Wilella Stimmell had prepared to enter into the SEL Herbarium. Every herbarium in the world has its own "Call Letters", a kind of shorthand that is used to designate where a particular specimen has been deposited, or in reference to that particular herbarium. One of Wilella's contributions to SEL was a
complete, pickled, flowering plant which John identified as Oncidum pardothyrsus and which happens to be the only entire plant of this orchid ever seen in an herbarium in the history of orchidology. "This is an awfully big specimen," said John to me, in reference to the fact that it was in a two-liter jar. "Be thankful it's not in the fifty gallon drum she originally wanted to send it in," said I to John.  Wilella also sent some pressed specimens from her living orchid collection, thus assuring her posterity in the orchid world for at least the next millenium or so. In whatever manner the Homo sapiens taxonomist has evolved by then (four toes?), he will say, "Ah, just what I was looking for --- a complete specimen of Oncidium pardothyrsus ! Thank God for Wilella Stimmell." The Research Center is not restricted to the study of orchids. Harry Luther, internationally known Bromeliad taxonomist, is also in residence at Selby. John Beckner assists John Atwood and has initiated an unequaled, ingenious system of reference filing, Aside from that, John B. has a photographic memory which enables him to cite the location of nearly any piece of literature or plant description sought by whoever wants it. Bruce Holst overseas the SEL Herbarium and edits Selbyana, the scientific journal published by Selby.  Stig Dalstrom was gone on vacation in August so I did not get to see him. Stig is famed for his extraordinarily beautiful color illustrations and black and white analytical illustrations. Numerous examples of Stig's work appear in Flora Costaricensis and other publications. He is also an Odontoglossum alliance specialist. The OIC is an integral part of the Selby Gardens which funds it independently. The important role that it fulfills in expanding our knowledge of the Orchidaceae is significant. We hope that the OIC will continue as it has in the past and expand in the future to help students and
researchers find what they are looking for, and enable them to present new findings. As you must know by now, Selby Gardens, the Research Center, and the OIC are special in the world of plant lovers everywhere, be they beginner, student or expert.

by Wilella Stimmell, CSP Coordinator

On September 17, Nancy Burnett, Ann Cherny, Shirley Engberg, Keith Mead, and I presented two programs for students at the Madison Rose Lane Elementary School, 1155 E. Rose Lane, Phoenix.   With wide-eyed anticipation, Mrs. Lynch's 2nd grade class assembled in an orderly group on the carpeted floor in front of our display table.  Following a discussion of the blooming plants on display, we set to work helping the children repot the phalaenopsis seedlings we had brought for them. The children agreed: had Monet grown orchids, he would surely have used orchids as subjects for his paintings.  (The children were planning a trip to the Phoenix Art Museum to see the Monet exhibit.)
The second program of the morning was presented for Mrs. Bathgate's 1st grade class.  On display was a pickled specimen of a cantaloupe seedling. For previous programs, we showed a pickled Oncidium species to the children. However, that specimen is no longer in our possession. It was our intention to pickle another orchid for use in our school programs, but the likely candidate - a Bulbophyllum firthii - had produced a second bloom and a third
bud was developing. We thought we would delay pickling the plant until the third bloom had opened, and we would take the live plant to the Madison Rose Lane programs.  The only available pickled specimen was the cantaloupe seedling.  The children giggled when they saw the seedling container. They recognized the size (4 ounces) and shape, and they knew its intended use was NOT for "pickling" plants!  The cantaloupe seedling had germinated and appeared to have a completely developed root system within 24 hours of being accidentally "fed" to worms.  At the mere mention of worm excretia, the children shuddered, wrinkled their noses, and a collective, loud "EEUU" was heard.  One of our team members thought the children's reaction was so cute that she volunteered MORE information about the Stimmell Worm Farm - that the worms lived in my kitchen.  In response, the children produced an even louder "EEUU"!  However, it did not dampen their enthusiasm to get busy repotting their orchid seedlings.  And after they had finished, they closely examined all the orchids on the display table.  Most of the children had never seen orchids, but they will surely remember the first time they saw them - if for no other reason than the fact that that day they learned some people actually keep worms IN their homes and not outside in the ground "where they belong"! Perhaps we might try experimenting by placing a dollop of worm "doodoo" in the pot with the fir bark and the orchid seedling?  If the seedling (at this age approximately a year and a half from blooming) bloomed within 1-2 months following "contact" with worm castings, we could submit photo documentation to Ripley's Believe It or Not! On September 20, at 10:15 AM, we presented a program for the Scottsdale Welcome Wagon Garden Group.  The blooming phalaenopsis doorprize plant we donated was won by the member in whose home the meeting was held. Along with the plant, we gave her growing instructions and SEVERAL "911" telephone numbers.  The members of the Garden Group were very enthusiastic and hope to organize a trip to visit our November show! On October 14, we will present two programs at Redbird Elementary School, 1020 S. Extension, Mesa.  The programs are scheduled for 9:30 AM and 10:30 AM.  There will be 60 students participating.  Sandy Hill, 4th  grade teacher, and Sandy Rayburn, 2nd grade teacher, heard our presentation at the Low Desert Conference on July 30. These teachers began saving milk jugs the
day of the conference, and we will be presenting our programs for their classes.  (Nancy, Sandy Hill stated that her students are interested in starting a WORM FARM! Surely you will want to be on hand to  encourage the children!)  We will need at least 4 OSA members to help with the programs at Redbird. On October 26, we will present FOUR programs for 1st grade classes at Kyrene de las Lomas Elementary School, 11820 S. Warner Elliot Loop, Phoenix.   The first program is set to BEGIN at 8:30. The second will begin at 9:30; the third will follow at 10:30; and the last program will begin at noon. Although these programs involve a total of 100 children, no more than 25 students will participate at one time.  (We discovered that if there are more than 25 students in a class, they do not receive the individualized instruction they need on how to care for their orchid seedling.)  We need at least 5 OSA members to help with the programs at Kyrene. Our last community service programs for 1999 will be held at 1 PM during our November 13 and 14 orchid show at the Valley Garden Center. Participation is limited to a maximum of 30 children per program, and the children must be 6 years old or older.  (No 66-years-old "young-at-heart- children", please). If you have a grandchild or know of a neighbor whose child might wish to participate, please call Keith Mead (480)496-5762 to reserve space for the child.  There is no deadline for reservations. We have received inquiries from a 4-H group in Safford and a Junior High School in Carefree. Programs for these groups would be presented next year. (A report on the programs presented on October 1 for Scales Development School, the programs presented on October 9 for children attending Gubler's Orchid Fair in Landers, CA, and the programs presented on October 14 for the Redbird Elementary School will appear in our November newsletter.)

Selby Vignettes... My experimentation with potting materials
John T. Atwood

Orchids are my business and I work with them every day, and when I get home I actually grow a few to enjoy. I like to experiment with available natural materials, not only because I dislike impacting tree fern populations, but I am just plain cheap! I don't encourage the readership to follow me headstrong into cultural disaster, but I do encourage experimentation with novel potting media on less valuable plants. I have had my share of disasters-cocoa bean mulch that killed the roots on a cattleya hybrid; crunched-up Styrofoam hamburger containers that nearly killed my
Paphiopedilum fairrieanum-but I also have had a few successes. I once lacked potting medium in the dead of winter up north but was able to collect quantities of dried beech leaves still attached to the tree. I potted several Paphiopedilum hennisianum with the beech leaves (Fagus grandifolia) in a plastic pot and got almost instantaneous new root systems. I have had similar results using bark from hemlock trees (Tsuga canadensis) and wild sphagnum, although I learned that some sphagnums work better than others, in fact, one species with little black stems caused my plants to cease growth altogether. But this is a story about a recent experiment here in Sarasota. I have pine needles-lots of pine needles from 17 (gasp!) slash pines (Pinus elliottii).
Though not the long-leaf pine (Pinuspalustris), the leaves are long enough-some about a foot long. The needles make great mulch, something we have plenty of and we share them with the neighbors with lots left over. I decided to try composting them by spreading wheelbarrows full under an oak tree. After two to three years they broke down into a beautiful fibrous loam somewhat held together by the roots from the surrounding laurel oak tree. I removed perhaps 20 wheelbarrows full of this compost to a bin about eight feet across simply constructed of rabbit fence. So what do you do with this gunk? Faced with a repotting challenge on a Phaius tankervilleae and Spathoglottis kimballiana I decided to try the compost (perhaps a bit recklessly) on them last February. Working with it is a bit like working with osmunda because of the oak roots. The spathoglottis now has eight flowering inflorescences (one new, one developing) and a lot of new growth. The phaius doubled its shoots from two to four and is about four feet
across. Clearly I have found a use for my pine needles, although a different species of pine might yield different results. Every potential potting material needs experimentation before broad application. Can the readership share similar stories.
For those who love the large yellow flowers of Spathoglottis kimballiana providing a show for more than half a year, distribution plants will be made available this November to Selby Gardens members. These plants made available through tissue culture should begin flowering next summer.

Following is a list of items needed for the various vignettes for our November 13 and 14 orchid show: SOUTHWEST ORCHID SUNSET.
Please place some type of identification mark in an inconspicuous place on your items and bring the items AS CLOSE to  9 AM AS POSSIBLE to the VALLEY GARDEN CENTER on NOVEMBER 12 so we can begin the creative process.

1.      old sleeping bags
2.      bed rolls
3.      saddle bags
4.      canteens
5.      cowboy boots
6.      branding irons
7.      a coffee pot
8.      cast iron frying pans
9.      empty and/or sealed pinto bean cans
10.     ropes and lariats
11.     prospector's (gold panning) pans
12.     pinatas
13.     bandanas
14.     horse blankets
15.     indian rugs
16.     pot belly stove
17.     wooden barrets and crates
18. Indian drums
19.     saw horses
20.     saddles and tack
21.     cowboy hats
22.     steer skulls
23.     sun-bleached bones
24.     hay bales
25.     tumble weeds
26.     ocotillo
27.     tree limbs (interesting sticks and branches)
28.     cactus - DEAD OR ALIVE
29.     rocks and wood for simulated campfire
30.     split rail fence pieces
31.     wagon wheels
32.     lanterns
33.     milk cans
34.     wash board
35.     fake snakes and owls
36.     icicle lights
37.     LANDSCAPE bark
any other interesting or rustic southwest items

If in doubt about the suitability of an item, CALL CANDY PELZ AT

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