Thursday, December 30, 2010

Paph. niveum

Brachypetalum -- Church of the Subgenus 
part 5 -- Paph. niveum

by Selena Sabine 

Selena Sabine studying Paph. niveum
Paphiopedilum niveum is Lan Lan’s favorite Brachypetalum and it’s easy to see why.  The glistening white flower with light purple stippling is amazingHarold Koopowitz claims that Paph. niveum “is one of the few pretty slipper orchids.”  Rebecca Northern praised its “dainty flowers,” but noted that its “culture is difficult” (Miniature Orchids, 134).  AOS judges have used a variety of color terms to characterize Paph. niveum including “pure white,” “glistening white,” “milky white,” “glossy porcelain white,” “snow white,” and in 1983 – perhaps as an unconscious reference to early 80s synthetic heroin – “China white.”

Growers have successfully line-bred Paph. niveum for rounder, bigger, and flatter flowers.  In breeding,  Paph. niveum is albinistic – it washes out the color of the other species with which it’s bred.  Paph. Psyche (niveum  x bellatulum) and Paph. Greyi (niveum x godefroyae) stand out among the 66 primary hybrids involving Paph. niveum

Like Paph. godefroyae, Paph. niveum doesn’t really have an impressive award history compared to its sister Brachies.  The Wellensteins, of AnTec Laboratory, hold more AOS awards for Paph. niveum than anyone else (ten).  Similarly, Paphanatics’ seven niveum awards account for most of the twelve niveum awards from the Pacific South Regional Judging Center in Long Beach, California.  G.A. Wright, A&P Orchids, Nick Tannaci, and Rainforest Orchids have all earned three AOS awards for their Paph. niveum.  I don’t have the awards-over-time data for this entry.  Sorry!  I think Griffin messed with the Excel spreadsheet.  Griffin!

Like the other Brachies, AOS judges sometimes noted explicit flaws in their descriptions about Paph. niveum, and these comments often referred to cupped dorsal sepals: “cupping of dorsal sepal and overall shape considered faults”;  “notched petals and slight refelexing of dorsal precluded higher score”; cupping of flower precluded higher score”; “size and cupped shape precluded higher score”; “score would have been higher if form had been flatter”; “a small and ruffled dorsal sepal was limiting.”

The less nerdy readers might be relieved to know that I’ve almost finished my report.  The next post in this series will look at select Brachypetalum hybrids.  Hang in there.  We’re almost done.  Thanks for reading!

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