Saturday, March 19, 2016

Pretty picture: Bulbophyllum Elizabeth Ann 'Buckleberry'

We just did a Bulbophyllum, I know, but this one looks so different I feel like it shouldn't count as a repeat.

Bulbophyllum Elizabeth Ann 'Buckleberry' = Bulbophyllum longissimum x Bulbophyllum rothschildianum (Ref.)

To put it in misleadingly oversimplified terms, it looks sort of like B. longissimum is long but light-colored, and B. rothschildianum is stumpy but colorful, and Elizabeth Ann 'Buckleberry' got the length from one parent and the color from the other.

When I looked into the ancestry, I was surprised to learn that B. putidum (previously, in 2014) wasn't in the mix somewhere, because they seem pretty similar in color. Apparently not, though. It did get me wondering how often orchid breeders wind up making hybrids that more or less duplicate a natural species. Surely that's happened at least once, right?

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Schlumbergera seedling no. 058 (again)

I see now that I made two bad assumptions, when I decided to name each of the Schlumbergera seedlings individually and give each one its own blog post.

One, I was expecting a broader range of color combinations. Considering that they're almost all the offspring from a single cross, the diversity has actually been pretty good -- I can at least put them into distinct categories like "dark orange / white" or "orange / magenta" -- but I hadn't envisioned that 90%+ of them would be some shade of orange. Which limits the name possibilities.

Two, I wasn't expecting there to be so damn many seedlings in the first place; I thought they'd so a little self-selecting. Not only have almost all the seedlings survived,1 but pretty much every seedling I've moved into the plant room has bloomed, too.2 That's a lot of seedlings, and a lot of blooms.

So what I'm faced with now is the question of how to make a larger-than-expected number of more-identical-than-expected seedlings into interesting blog posts while also giving them distinct names. Honestly? Probably not possible. But I should try anyway.

It came down to three possible names: either Circus Peanut, after the weird fluorescent orange candy, Buff Orpington, a yellowy-orangey-brown breed of chicken, or Clyde, after the easily-spooked3 orange ghost from Pac-Man.

I was leaning toward Circus Peanut for a long time; ever since I found out that the difficult-to-pin-down flavoring in circus peanuts is banana (and verified it by buying and smelling a bag: it's true), I've had weird positive feelings toward them,4 and this bloom is at least approximately the right color and dimensions, if not shape.

Buff Orpington, on the other hand, is funnier-sounding and arguably more memorable.5 On the other hand, the color's less close to the flower (the chicken is usually lighter and/or yellower), which bothers me.

And Clyde? Well, the color's right, and I'm more fond of Pac-Man than I am of circus peanuts, but I'm not crazy about "Clyde" as a name by itself; it needs the Pac-Man context to work.

So I guess not Clyde. On the fence about the other two for a long time, asked the husband for his preference, and he said Buff Orpington, which I guess acts as the tiebreaker. So: Buff Orpington, more for the sound of the words than for the color fidelity.


1 Though there are gaps in the numerical sequence. A good chunk of the 40s, 140s, 150s, and 160s are missing because the NOID salmon is a terrible seed parent and produced weird, stunted seedlings that got shaded out easily, or just refused to grow. There have been losses here and there to rot or drought. I sold a few of them at the consignment store without knowing what color they were going to bloom. A handful seemed to react badly to the white-oil spray, back when I sprayed all the plants with it in hopes of leaving the scale no place to hide. But of the 114 original seedlings, sown in 2012, 80 are still with me, and another 10 were sold. That's a 79% survival rate overall.
By contrast, there were 116 Anthurium seedlings sown during the same period, only 36 of which are still around, for 31% overall survival. (Leading causes of death: scale, ugly, weak, dry, rot/wet.) Granted, I'm harder on the Anthuriums, and sometimes throw them out when they're surviving just fine, but even if you add back in the "ugly," "scale," and "crappy" deaths, that only brings them up to 59%. The Anthuriums are just a lot more variable in quality than the Schlumbergeras.
2 Only 8 of the seedlings I've moved up to 4-inch pots have failed to bloom, out of 69 (88% bloom rate). And at least one of those is still trying to: 095 has a bud opening right now.
3 Wikipedia's article for Ghosts (Pac-Man), as I type this, says "Clyde is the Orange Ghost who, in the original arcade game, acts stupid." I feel like maybe there's a more precise and encyclopedia-friendly way of phrasing this, but maybe Wikipedia isn't pretending to have standards anymore?
4 I've always liked circus peanuts, though. I mean, they've never been my favorite candy, but I don't understand people who are all, ugh, circus peanuts, disgusting.
The surge of positive feelings related to circus peanuts is because they make sense, now that I can name the flavor, not that the flavor's suddenly become more appealing.
5 Hypothesis: "orp" is an inherently funny-sounding vowel-and-consonant-blend combination.
Supporting evidence: borp, brorp, corpuscle, chorp, clorp, crorp, D/dorp (it's an actual word), drorp, forp, florp, frorp, gorp, glorp, grorp, horp, jorp, korp, lorp, morp, norp, porp, plorp, prorp, rorp, sorp, schorp, scorp, shorp, slorp, smorp, snorp, sporp, stlorp, storp, strorp, sworp, torp, throrp, trorp, vorpal, warp, yorp, zorp.
Contradictory evidence: adsorption, (in-)corporeal, corpse, doorpost, incorporate, scorpion, Thorpe, torpedo, torpor/torpid.
Ambiguous/intederminate: corpulent, orpiment, porpentine, porpoise.
Conclusion: probably true, but additional study recommended.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Anthurium no. 0467 "Regina Fong"

The most notable thing about Regina is that she is, I believe, the first Anthurium seedling to get a posthumous blog post. She got thrown out on 8 March due to a scale infestation.

Usually, having bloomed will buy a seedling a little more time, if they have scale -- I'll wipe the leaves off a couple times and see whether that helps -- but in her case, I'd already done that, and it wasn't helping. The infestation seemed to be advanced enough that I doubted I would be able to eliminate it, so out she goes.

Which wasn't a huge loss. I'm not sure what to blame, but virtually all of the seedlings with ID numbers between 400 and 554 have been disappointing, and all in the same kind of way. They're almost all pink, red, or shades in between, with either matching or yellow spadices; their leaves and spathes are badly scarred from thrips, or scale, or both; the few spathes that appear are smaller than average. There have been a few seedlings in this range that I deemed worthy of moving up to 6-inch pots,1 but not nearly as many as in the 200s and 300s.

For a while, I'd thought that maybe the 400-550 group was just unlucky, just happened to come of age at exactly the wrong moment to catch bad thrips infestations, and that's likely some of it: as the thrips have gotten under better control, the seedlings' leaves have improved, as described here. I've also thought maybe it was my fault, that maybe I just dropped the ball on care somehow (bad location? too many skipped waterings?) and that led to the whole group crapping out on me. I mean, they barely hold themselves together at all. When they can be bothered to bloom, the blooms are tiny, in boring colors, and are crappily executed.

But I think Regina sort of settled the question of whether the seedlings were unlucky or poorly-maintained, and the answer is, surprisingly, neither.

So this was Regina.

Not very interesting, except for one oddball trait she shared with 0527 Ms. Lucia Love, which is that her spadices contrasted with the spathes when the bloom first opened, then darkened over time until it matched the spathe. The above photo was from 12 January. By 14 January, the spadix was already starting to redden and darken:

And by the 20th, the transformation was complete.

Regina and Lucia being the only two seedlings to do this so far, I naturally wondered what they had in common. Initially, the answer appeared to be not much. Regina's from seedling group BF ('Gemini' / 23 October 2013); Lucia's from group BH ('White Gemini' / 23 October 2013), so they have the same sow date, but different spathe colors and seed parents.2

However. Both BF and BH contain seedlings with characteristics that didn't come from 'Gemini' nor 'White Gemini.' Neither has ever shown any hint of a purple or magenta pigment, yet a few of the BF and BH seedlings bloomed a little bit purple.3 Neither 'Gemini' nor 'White Gemini' spadices start out contrasting with the spathe and then change color to match it, like 0527 Ms. Lucia Love and 0467 Regina Fong. And since the sow date was the same for both BF and BH, they could easily have the same pollen parent. So what pollen parent would have been around in early 2013, that contains purple pigmentation, and darkens its spadix over time to match the spathe? And is it a crappy, thrips-prone cultivar?

There are three possible parent Anthurium varieties here which produce some kind of purple pigmentation: 'Krypton,' a NOID red-violet which may or may not also be 'Krypton,'4 and the NOID purple. The NOID purple can be eliminated on the grounds that its spadices match the spathe as soon as the spathe opens, but the other two both start out with lighter-colored blooms that darken over time. I don't take photos of every single bloom the plants produce, so I don't know whether 'Krypton' was blooming in early 2013 or not, but I do know that the NOID red-violet had a bloom in late 2012.

Neither 'Krypton' nor the NOID red-violet have ever had a problem with thrips; they live in the living room, and as far as I know, thrips have never been a big problem there, so they may never have been tested. One seedling of 'Krypton's, 0599 Butta, has definitely had a horrible time with thrips.5 There have never been any known seedlings of the NOID red-violet.

In any case, most of the signals seem to point toward either 'Krypton' or the NOID red-violet as being the likely pollen parent for most (if not all) of the seedlings in the BF and BH seedling groups. And, the BF and BH seedling groups make up 93% (all but 11) of the seedlings between #400 and #554. So I feel like there's a pretty good case to be made for the idea that those seedling groups might suck disproportionately because they have a particularly awful pollen parent, not because I've been negligent.

Just a theory. I'll probably never know. But it's honestly been depressing, how many of the BF/BH seedlings have been crappy, so I'm glad to have any way of explaining that, true or not.6

There's no point in talking further about Regina, since she's dead, but I took the pictures so I'm going to show them to you anyway. Overall plant:

Newer leaf (which I think is also the same leaf on which the raging scale problem was discovered):

I'll try to be more entertaining in the next post. I mean, I was trying with this one, but then I threw the plant out and the whole thing had to be rewritten at the last minute, so it didn't really work.


1 So far:
0406 Tricia Nullmaritch (BF) has magenta spathes with a yellow spadix, but the spadix ages to green, something that none of her suspected parents does. Weak point: she's still pretty susceptible to thrips.
0408 Tex Messich (BF) has enormous leaves, and seems fairly resistant to thrips and scale. Weak point: blooms are fairly big but the color isn't very interesting (pink / yellow).
0527 Ms. Lucia Love (BH) blooms heavily and is the only other seedling to produce color-changing spadices. She has good foliage, which seems pretty thrips-resistant. Weak point: blooms are small, and sometimes on short peduncles which make them hard to see.
0547 Cate Sedia (BH) produces nicely-colored spathes and large leaves. Weak point: the spathes are pretty small, and the foliage is just susceptible enough to thrips that it's not very appealing. That could get better with time, though.
2 Though in fact 'White Gemini' is supposed to be a sport of 'Gemini,' so it's not clear how much the genes differ. Obviously something is different, or they wouldn't be producing different-colored spathes, but if 'White Gemini' is just a mutated 'Gemini,' most of the genes should be the same. The only consistent difference I've noticed between the offspring of 'Gemini' and the offspring of 'White Gemini' is that although both have produced plenty of seedlings that bloom red and plenty that bloom pink, the red:pink ratio for 'Gemini' is roughly 2:1, and for 'White Gemini' it's roughly 1:2. (Actual numbers: 35 to 16 for 'Gemini,' 17 to 32 for 'White Gemini.' This is a very rough count, since it includes some accidental clones, and not every seedling has bloomed, and it doesn't include buds that never opened, and so forth, but it's suggestive.)
3 'Gemini' genes dominate wherever they find themselves: most of the BF/BH seedlings have pink to red spathes with white to yellow spadices, just like 'Gemini.'
Exceptions in BF: 0406 Tricia Nullmaritch (purplish spathe), 0516 Brooke Enhart (lavender spadix), 0524 Hedda Lettuce (dark red spathe).
Exceptions in BH: 0534 Celia Putty (purplish spathe), 0537 Bridgette of Madison County (lavender spadix)?, 0547 Cate Sedia (purplish spathe).
4 It seems like the NOID is a lighter color, but I don't have many photos of either plant's blooms, and they never bloom at the same time, so I honestly can't compare them directly.

Two of these photos are of 'Krypton' and two are of the NOID red-violet. Can you tell which is which?

(A: Top two are 'Krypton,' bottom two are NOID red-violet.)
The two plants' leaves are more distinct. The NOID red-violet's are smaller, and have a wavy margin lacking in 'Krypton.' The foliage is the main reason I still believe they're different cultivars.
5 The six other known 'Krypton' descendants have been generally crappy, but not in a thrips-specific way: mostly they've just been too weak to live very long after transplanting. 0678 April CarriĆ³n is the only one still alive besides 0599 Butta, and she's growing so slowly that I doubt we're ever going to see her bloom.
6 The main argument against my theory is 0333 Isaiah Littleprayer, the only other seedling I suspect of having 'Krypton' or the NOID red-violet as its pollen parent. Isaiah has an otherwise inexplicable purple shade to its spathe, and very pale purple spadices (though they don't darken with age), and the blooms are small and infrequent, like 'Krypton' and the NOID red-violet. But, Isaiah's foliage is pretty nice, which isn't like the BF/BH seedlings at all.
Isaiah's seed parent is the NOID red, which tends to impart pretty good foliage to its offspring, so maybe the good NOID red foliage genes cancel out the bad NOID red-violet foliage genes?

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Pretty picture: Paphiopedilum Mr Wonderful

We've seen a Mr Wonderful before, in 2013; this one's duller and not as spotty as that one.

For comparison purposes, here's 2013's specimen:

The ancestry of this particular hybrid, as I reported it in 2013, is:

Paphiopedilum Mr. Wonderful = P. Knock Knock x P. Gloriosum

and the ancestry I found for the 2015 version is

Paphiopedilum Mr Wonderful = P. Anhinga x P. Friedrich von Hayek

Which are obviously not the same. Ugh, you're thinking, another Mr. Subjunctive tirade about mislabeled plants, I bet there's something interesting on TV right now I could be watching instead of reading this. But no!

(I mean, that's probably right, about the TV. But there is a twist in this story!)

The twist is: either ancestry, or both ancestries, is potentially correct! The International Orchid Registry has a listing for a Paphiopedilum Mister Wonderful, Knock Knock x Gloriosum, 1996, and a listing for Paphiopedilum Mr Wonderful, Anhinga x Freidrich von Hayek, 2010.

So which one is this? Which one was the one from 2013?


I don't think I'll ever know. Search engines return few or no results for "Paphiopedilum 'Mister Wonderful,'" but lots of results for "Paphiopedilum 'Mr Wonderful,'" and the pictures that come up in both cases look like the 2013 picture. But, search engines can't necessarily be trusted to look for what you actually type anymore, even with quote marks, and I didn't bother to click on all the pages to see whether they had it as "Mr" or "Mister." It probably wouldn't matter either way: I sure as hell don't trust orchid sellers and random Flickr photographers to know that "Mister Wonderful" isn't the same thing as "Mr Wonderful,"1 or to refrain from abbreviating out of laziness.

So I wind up wanting to write sternly-worded letters to the International Orchid Registry people about what in the hell were they thinking, approving two greges with (for all practical purposes) the same name. I probably won't, of course. And they wouldn't listen if I did. But if someone important in the IOR hierarchy happens to be reading: maybe watch out for this in the future?2 Or at least bring it up at the next meeting and see what everybody else says?

Here to play us out of the post is Mr. Mister, with the video for "Broken Wings," because when else could Mr. Mister ever be so appropriate? Take what is wrong and make it right, International Orchid Registry.


1 I'm not even sure how I found out that Mr != Mister. And I was there when it happened, presumably.
2 Also keep an eye out for Doctor/Dr., Saint/St., and Mount/Mt. pairs while you're at it. Or maybe just disallow abbreviations entirely? Kinda surprised that hasn't happened already, frankly.