Thursday, January 6, 2011

Brachypetalum Hybrids

Brachypetalum -- Church of the Subgenus 
parts 6 & 7—Brachypetalum Hybrids

by Selena Sabine 

Bean sniffs Paph. Triple Bella
 Brian, the Cats and Catts patriarch, is ill and lying down on the couch, so I’ve instructed Riley, Griffin, and Lan Lan to position themselves on his body so he can’t get up.  Lan Lan has his ankles pinned, Griffin is resting her full weight on his lower back, and Riley has the head and neck region covered.  Now, with this temporary peace, I can finish the Brachypetalum Report.  First, let’s have a quick review:
Brachy Species

Nomenclature Notes
Flower Notes


Paph. bellatulum

Beautiful, enchanting; The enchanting slipper orchid

White with burgundy spotting; round flower, weak stem

Paph. concolor

Uniformed color, of one color; The one-colored slipper orchid

Yellow with maroon spotting
Paph. godefroyae

Named after Mme. Godefroy, orchid enthusiast; Also listed and sold as Paph. leucochilum

White with burgundy blotches, strong stem
Paph. niveum
White; The snow-white slipper orchid
Entirely white with minute purple stippling near the staminode


Again, Paph. thaianum is not on this list because it’s too new and we don’t know much about it.  Also, the award number listed includes cultural awards and British orchid awards, so it’s a bigger number than the AOS flower award totals listed in earlier reports on the individual species (because I assume everyone is fact-checking these reports with the proverbial fine-toothed cat brush).

Now, what happens when we mix these species together or with other, non-Brachy, species?  Hopefully, we get a better looking and better growing orchid.  The concept of hybrid vigor explains how the best qualities of the parents manifest themselves in the offspring.  Award data – as an imperfect index of plant importance and quality – can help narrow the bedazzling number of Brachypetalum hybrids.  There are ten primary hybrids that have earned more than thirty-five awards (listed below). 

Top Ten Brachypetalum Primary Hybrids

Parent Species
Hybrid Name
Awards listed in OrchidWiz

Paph. bellatulum x Paph. ferrieanum

Paph. bellatulum x Paph. delenatii

Vanda M. Pearman
Paph. bellatulum x Paph. niveum

Paph. bellatulum x Paph. ciliolare

Paph. bellatulum x Paph. glaucophyllum

Charles Sladden
Paph. concolor x Paph. bellatulum

Paph. bellatulum x Paph. godefroyae

S. Gratrix
Paph. concolor x Paph. godefroyae

Paph. godefroyae x Paph. niveum
Paph. niveum x Paph. ferrieanum


Some Cats and Catts readers know that these are “primary hybrids” because they involve two species plants; we can only trace the lineage back to two plants.  When we involve a third ancestor in our plant breeding we suddenly walk into the world of “complex hybrids.”  For instance, Paph. S. Gratrix is a primary hybrid involving two species: Paph. bellatulum and Paph. godefroyaePaph. Conco-bellatulum is a primary hybrid involving – you guessed it – Paph. concolor and Paph. bellatulum.  But Paph. Matrix (Paph. S. Gratrix x Paph Conco-bellatulum), introduced by Nick Tannaci in 2001, is a complex hybrid.  The breeding options expand with every generation of new hybrid.  There are hundreds of Brachy complex hybrids, and many have neat-sounding names that could substitute for race horses.  I’ve created a handy chart so you can get a sense of the relational naming strategy and how these plants fit together as a group.  To keep it very simple, let’s focus on ten that are either in the Cats and Catts collection or on Lan Lan’s Paphiopedilum wish list.

Complex Hybrid

Plant Parents

Paph. godefroyae and Paph. Psyche
Bella Lucia

Paph. bellatulum and Paph. Wellesleyanum
Double Shot

Paph. Virgo and Paph. Psyche
Double Trix

Paph. S. Gratrix and Paph. Double Shot
Double Grey

Paph. Double Shot and Paph. Greyi
Lucky Bells

Paph. Bella Lucia and Paph. bellatulum
Hiro Luna

Paph. Bella Lucia and Paph. S. Gratrix
Triple Trix

Paph. Double Trix and Paph. Psyche
Triple Bella

Paph. Bella Lucia and Paph. Triple Trix
Muriel Constance
Paph. Greyi and Paph. bellatulum
Sierra Lace
Paph. Virgo and Paph. Psyche

I’m going to beg for vanilla-flavored treats in just a moment, but I want to tell you where you can buy these things before I close up my report.  Looking at our “Kitties Approved!” list, we can vouch for three vendors for high-quality Brachy species and hybrids: The Orchid Inn Ltd., Windy Hill Gardens, and enLightened Orchids.

That’s it!  Thanks for reading our too-brief tour of the Brachypetalum subgenus.  Now, onto those treats….