Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Paph. bellatulum

Brachypetalum -- Church of the Subgenus 
part 2 -- Paph. bellatulum

by Selena Sabine

Paph. bellatulum was first described by Reichenbach in 1888 and it remains the best known and most awarded Brachypetalum species.  Its name comes from bellus, which means “beautiful” in Latin.  Hybridizers have made extensive use of Paph. bellatulum for its round flower, and it’s in important primary hybrids like Conco-bellatulum, S. Gatrix, Vanda M. Pearman, and Psyche.  The problem with bellatulum is its weak and short stem, which is often targeted in breeding programs by crossing bellatulum with Paph. niveum or Paph. godefroyae. (For more information, see this thread on, this info sheet on, Rebecca Northern, 1980, Miniature Orchids, pg. 133, and Steve Frowine, 2007, Miniature Orchids, pg. 157.).

The best bellatulum in AOS judging history is Paph. bellatulum ‘Rainforest’ FCC/AOS (90 points) exhibited by Rainforest Orchids in June 1987.  The judges praised “a significant size increase over [the] previous AM,” which produced “nearly perfectly symmetrical conformation of parts, and consequent delightful harmony of shape and color.”  This FCC is quite an achievement given large number of bellatulum flower awards from the 1960s to present (148) and the fierce competition from the Wellensteins (10 bellatulum flower awards), Marriott Orchids (6 awards), South River Orchids (6 awards), and Nick Tannaci (5 awards).  Examining the award data over time, 1981 and 1997 emerge as the years with the highest number of AOS awards (13 and 15, respectively).  This variation can be explained by the successful efforts of Bob and Lynn Wellenstein, who earned eight of their eleven bellatulum AOS awards in 1997, and South River Orchids, who earned four of their six bellatulum AOS awards in 1981.

What did judges praise and criticize in their evaluations of Paph. bellatulum flowers?  Reading judging descriptions are one way to understand the criteria by which AOS judges award Paph. bellatulum flowers.  A single description isn’t very descriptive.  Sometimes, however, the judge’s description will make an explicit comment about why the flower gained or lost points.  Collected together, these comments emphasize a round and proportional flower with little or no cupping, with symmetrical dotting.  I’ve listed the raw data below.

Now, where’s my treats?

Explicit Praise or Criticism in AOS Judging Descriptions of Paph. bellatulum flower awards
Asymmetry of petals reduced score; flower form more flat than previous awards; form with minimal cupping; flower commended for size and dark even spots; noted for pleasing form; substance exceptionally firm; commended for exceptional form and balance; cupped dorsal sepal precluded higher score; awarded for attractive patterning, symmetrical form and size; slight rolling of petals reduced score; awarded for pleasing shape, proportions and color; reflexed petals precluded higher score; judges impressed by intense saturation of maroon spots and blush; one superb, round, beautifully balanced flower; one well-formed flower; Spotted very nicely with burgundy; Evenly spotted; Uniformly distributed maroon spots; flower larger in all dimensions and better presented than previous HCC in 1976; Increased side compared to previous award; Excellent form; Extra heavily spotted; Slightly reflexed; Unusually wide petals and very round shape, but slightly cupped; Heavy maroon spotting; Excellent substance and form; Uniformly arranged vivid red-brown spotting; Although flower about average size for awarded clones, spots of intense glossy maroon-red mainly centered near column makes a particularly attractive flower; Dorsal sepal somewhat wider and flatter than usual; flower of good size; A well-balanced flower; flower very round; notable for especially round shape dues to wide, well-shaped dorsal sepal; Petals evenly spotted with deep burgundy; Spotting pleasingly arranged; Flower exceptionally well-rounded and balanced; gloss, color, and substance excellent.; Flower strong, nicely proportioned; Size and overall shape good but small pouch prevented higher award; Flower slightly cupped; Slight curling on petals precluded higher score; Excellent conformation; Dorsal sepal and basal area of petals exhibit slight cupping; Dorsal sepal and petals rolled at edges precluding a higher score; One unusually large, full and well proportioned flower on one inflorescence; Petals slightly reflexed, dorsal sepal slightly cupped, resulting in lower point score; Asymmetry caused by leaf interference precluded higher score, otherwise pleasing vertically ovoid flower; One large, pleasing, beautifully shaped flower; Substance excellent; Dorsal sepal slightly cupped, with good overall maroon spots arranged longitudinally; Uneven suffusion of oxblood color at margins of petals precluded higher score; Commended for markings, size, and substance; Noted for attractive proportions and color; One superb, round, beautifully balanced flower.


Joseph said...

Hi Selena,

I grow many brachys and enjoy your postings in your blog on them.
I would like inform you that the photo that you put up for bellatulum is godefroyae.
I have a blog which I update monthly on my plants. You can check it out at:



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