Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Scary Spice

Lan Lan wandered into the frame and created a frightening scene. As the photographer, it was a bit like being in a shark cage and having one of the weirdest sharks in the ocean swipe at you. She was circling around Paph. spicerianum 'Green Mystery' x 'Mallingham' HCC/AOS from Windy Hill Gardens. This is an extremely cute species. The jade pouch and fringed petals are cool, but the flower's white dorsal with the regal red stripe is its main drama. It's hard to see in the photo, but the dorsal sepal looks diamond-dusted, catching the light in a particularly magnificent way.

Paph. spicerianum 'Green Mystery' x 'Mallingham' HCC/AOS
Harold Koopowitz's Tropical Slipper Orchids has a thorough description of this species. He reports that Paph. spicerianum is named after someone named Lady Spicer and it's a key species for complex-standard hybrids, and -- more so than most other Paph. species -- the dorsal reflexes, or falls forward, a short time after opening. According to Koopowitz, the sloped dorsal is a good quality, evolutionarily speaking, because it creates a gutter for rainwater to run off the back of the flower. This is poor quality, however, from a showing/judging perspective because a straight dorsal reveals the flower in its full glory. Is this flower more beautiful when it's showcasing its functionality compared to when the dorsal is straight and flat? Lan Lan prefers the former and I favor the latter, but we both agree that it's a super awesome flower and one we'll both be keeping our eyes on.  

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