Tuesday, June 18, 2013

The quest for members of Grammatophyllum

Grammatophyllum scriptum pod
Grammatophyllum speciosum pod
Some of you who know me personally will be aware of my obsession with Grammatophyllum species. My obsession is partly due to the general paucity of Grammatophyllum species which are available in South Africa but also because to me they are simply stunning plants! These are the giants (most of them) of the orchid family. Although there are a few Grammatophyllum scriptum specimens being kept quietly in the older and more sought after local collections, these are few and far between. I am aware of a few G. scriptum var. citrinum, the yellow form in few collections (including mine) but I do not know of anyone in South Africa who has THE giant, G. speciosum. This is likely because there are few collectors who can actually house such a monster, but also possibly because this species prefers tropical conditions and strong lighting - conditions difficult to replicate in a large enough greenhouse without contributing signifcantly to load-shedding. However, if you have a large enough garden in KwaZulu Natal or even parts of the Eastern Cape, you might get away with having a few plants growing in your garden!
I took up the challenge a few years ago to try to locate anyone in the world who I could reliably get seeds from so that I could cultivate both G. scriptum and G. speciosum in vitro for my own collection as well as for other interested locals like me who just want to have something special in their collection. I am so happy to anounce that very recently I did manage to locate growers who had seeds, one in Florida in the US and another in Singapore who I have negotiated with to obtain pods of each species. The pods are always going to be a gamble but I thought it was well worth a shot. Obviously harvesting time and the pod ripeness are not under my control but I have been in contact with both growers on a monthly basis to gauge the maturity of pods for optimum harvest. Grammatophyllum speciosum is ready for harvesting and was recently removed from the mother plant. The G. scriptum pod I have been grooming over the internet for the last 9 months and soon this too will be ready. If the pods produce viable seeds I will produce a significant number of seedlings of both species. If there are any South African readers who are potentially interested in any for the future please drop me an email and I will keep your request and details listed as a priority-first list for the first available seedlings when they are ready. Drop me a mail at hexabothriid@gmail.com
On the subject of seedlings of interesting species please also email me if you are looking for anything odd which I may have in vitro. I have some Trias species currently germinating for those who enjoy the true miniatures. The Dendrobium crystallinum babies are nearly ready too but most of these have been reserved for the WBOS anual show in September. However, I have a surplus so just shout if you are interested in a flask of this species. If there are any landscapers looking for large quantities of seedling Ansellia africana, the true wild form (non cultivar) for later in the year, please also drop me a mail!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

An interesting intergeneric hybrid and a stunning Dendrobium

I have been patiently waiting for the opportunity to photograph the little protocorms of a sucessful germination of the intergeneric hybrid I have created between Eulophia streptopetala X Ansellia africana. The reason the cross was successful was because both parents are representative of the tribe Cymbidieae. Some growers incorrectly consider the genus Eulophia as part of the Cymbidium alliance, but it is not. Ansellia africana is part of this alliance but the genus Eulophia represents the Eulophia alliance. The RHS has the intergeneric nothogenus between these two genera registered as Eusellia. There is currently only a single Eusellia represenative. Eulophia streptopetala X Ansellia africana is currently unregistered. I guess I will have to wait to see what sort of flower variation I get from these plants as they mature. I am sure there will be quite some variation between seedlings.
Eulophia streptopetala X Ansellia africana
On hybrids I have included below an image of my flowering Dendrobium hybrid simply known as "F B153" which appears to contain possibly Dendrobium tetragonum with some Dendrobium kingianum? This hybrid is very floriferous. The only negative point I would have is that the flowers tend to hang down.
Dendrobium hybrid "F B153"
The Epidendrum radicans protocorms are starting to differentiate now and soon I will need to move them on to replate. In the pipeline I have some other very interesting species including Bulbophyllum spathulatum, Acampe papillosa and A. ochracea. I will report on these as they develop.