Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Cymbidium Kusuda Shining X Cymbidium erythrostylum

Wednesday the 9th of December started fine. It was a relatively warm (55 F) and sunny day in Philadelphia considering it was the middle of winter. My flight back to Australia was not meant to take off until 6:15 so had plenty of time to enjoy a few last hours with my family. Got to the airport early and whizzed through security and had a delightful Chicken Curry in one of the concourse restaurants. In retrospect, maybe it was not as delightful as first perceived considering the after-effects! Six o'clock and everything fine according to the screens announcing departures. Unfortunately, there was no plane at the gate! At 6:15 when we should have been departing an announcement came over the loudspeaker that our flight would be departing 40 minutes late. Not a worry, the connecting flight in Los Angeles was to depart two hours after we should have arrived. On the plane and then another 40 minutes sitting on the runway waiting our turn to take off. What caused this delay? Across 2/3rds of the continental USA there was a severe winter storm, we in Philadelphia were sitting in a little pocket of good weather. Pity the poor people of Chicago who were suffering -19 F and high winds or Buffalo, New York who were buried under 2 1/2 feet of lake effect snow. To cut a long story short, instead of the normal straight-line flight from Philadelphia to LA we detoured via Montana adding another 1 1/2 hours to our flight time. When the diversion to Montana was announced it became clear that my flight from LA to Australia was going to leave without me.

I don't normally praise an airline but United Airlines handled the situation very well. A dozen or so people stood in the service desk line awaiting re-assignment. I was number 6. The less than happy lady before me was the epitome of the customer from hell, lots of screaming and crying and flapping of arms. She left a very unhappy customer. By the time I got to the counter the attendant was frazzled and I was trying my best to act like the most polite customer. The reward for my great acting efforts was a lovely room at the LAX Marriot and a very nice breakfast the next morning! What to do until the next flight at 10:30PM on the 10th? By good luck I had the phone numbers of George Hatfield in my cell phone (mobile phone to the Australians). The very happy voice on the other end of the line and the words 'I'll come down and pick you up and we can play orchids today' changed what could have been a dreary day into one of excitement and camaraderie! Within an hour and a half we were eating the most amazing hamburgers from In-and-Out and heading up the coast highway to Oxnard.

George and I spent a wonderful day exploring every plant in his greenhouses, finding the gems and discussing a range of very interesting topics. There were many plants in flower and thanks to George's quick thinking and a staple gun we rigged up a mini-studio so that I could take some pictures. Most of those pictures will be used in future posts but there was one particular cross that particularly took my fancy. Now you would be right in thinking that this cross would be meaningful to me because it is in the process of being named after me (my real name not my nom de plume). Thankfully, I do really like the plant and can't think of another cross that is so befitting of my tastes in Cymbidium!

So what is this cross? Cymbidium Kusuda Shining x erythrostylum. This cross was made by George Hatfield of Hatfield Orchids and named in my honour, after I correctly guessed it's parentage from an unlabeled picture taken by another friend Ha Bui. Isn't it wonderful to have such thoughtful friends? It is especially poignant considering that at the time, I only knew the two of them from an online forum and emails. I am not even sure they knew what I looked like. On second thought they may have reconsidered after catching a glimpse of my mug.

Kusuda Shining is that fabulous early season hybrid, bred by Andy Easton, that is proving to be a wonderful parent and sparking a whole line of breeding. Many of the hybrids directly derived from it are in the yellow/orange/red range but as you will see other colours are certainly possible. Within the grex there are various selections exhibiting a range of colours from deep chestnut to bright yellow, most with heavily marked red labellums. There is reported to be an albino form out there somewhere but I have yet to see this. Maybe someone reading this can post a photo somewhere?

Cymbidium erythrostylum is the famous early season white species that has been used extensively for breeding high-quality whites, although generally not in the first couple of generations after direct use. Interestingly, C. erythrostylum is not restricted to breeding whites. It is well known for breeding pinks and even turns up in the heritage of reds and browns and even the occasional green. The fault with erythrostylum, according to Rebecca Tyson Northen, is the fact that the petals point forward and enclose the column, a syndrome she calls 'rabbit ears'. While this creates a look much different to what we expect in conventional Cymbidiums this configuration provides a unique look to the flowers that is both elegant and distinctive. This look is inherited in first generation hybrids, although modified to varying degrees. While this look is not appreciated on the show benches of cymbidium societies it is very popular with some sectors of the general public who look for novelty or are from specific cultural backgrounds.

Just as a reminder, Cymbidium Kusuda Shining and C. erythrostylum are pictured below so that you can see what the parents are.

Cymbidium Kusuda Shining

Cymbidium erythrostylum

What is really interesting in this hybrid is the way the characteristics of the parent combine in each different seedling. The most obvious characteristic is the shape of the flower. More like the C. erythrostylum parent, being basically triangular with petals pointing forward, but this varies in the three forms pictured. The red and peachy cream form show this most markedly but it is still obvious in the pink form. the labellum is typical of what you would expect of a C. erythrostylum hybrid, a little on the smaller side, strong diffentiation of the sidelobes from the mid-lob, and sidelobes the embrace the column. The convergent callus ridges are also characteristic of first generation C. erythrostylum hybrids. It is interesting to note that in this case C. erythrostylum strongly influences the position and configuration of the red patterning on the labellum, which is generally arranged in lines and increases in intensity and density toward the edges of the labellum. Of course, the labellums on the paler flowers more closely resemble the C. erythrostylum parent and the red flower more closely resembles the C. Kusuda Shining parent, even to the point of having yellow base colour on the labellum and confluent red patches toward the edges.

Most interesting to me is the overall colour of the flowers. How is it possible to get pink, red, peach and light yellow from this cross? It all gets back to the actual colours in the parents! I emphasize the term actual colour as opposed to perceived colour. Cymbidiums, like many other familiar garden flowers, including Rhododendrons, Oleanders, Roses and Carnations have petals that are made of layers of cells, each layer having the possibility of containing different colours. As is the case with Rhododendrons and Azaleas, the underlying or 'base' colours of Cymbidium are white, yellow and green. Overlying colours are white, yellow, green and red (pink being diluted red). One petal, the dorsal petal in Rhododendron and Azalea and the labellum in Cymbidium, has the potential to have markedly different combinations of colours then the rest of the petals/sepals. Some plant physiologists think and in some cases have proved that colour inheritance in orchid labellums is quite separate to colour inheritance in the other flower parts (think of the Cattleya alliance).

If you look closely at C. Kusuda shining it is evident that the base colour of the flower is yellow overlaid with red spots. Cymbidium erythrostylum is of course sparkling white with a tinge of pink/red at the base of the petals and sometimes a flushing of pink on the backs of the petals and sepals. What we see in C. Kusuda Shining X erythrostylum are white, cream or yellow base colours variously overlaid with red creating the impression of peach/salmon, pink or red. You don't have to look too closely in this hybrid to see either the base colour or the overlay colour. If you click on the individual pictures you can see the photo at a larger size. I hope you enjoy the pictures.

George made a very interesting observation regarding the floriferousness of the three plants illustrated here. They were all first flowered seedlings in 6"pots. The pink one, that the majority of orchid society people immediately took to, based on a picture of the flower only, is in fact the least free-flowering of the three. The pink only had one spike on the largest plant of the three. The creamy-peach one had a couple of spikes but the flowers were more numerous on the spike and better spaced. Most fascinating though was the red one. The plant was the smallest of the group but this little powerhouse had 7 flower spikes all fighting for space and attention. It was positively bursting with buds and when it is fully expanded will make a real knockout plant. You can see from the final photo it is certainly the most attractive of the lot and dare I say has the best qualities for commercial development. What about the shape I hear you saying. The general buying public and others seeking novelty and interesting shapes in Cymbidium, care little for the formalized strictures of the judging panels of orchid societies. These non-orchid society orchid consumers look for colour, free-flowering, compact size and of course colour, colour, colour! Perfection of shape of the flowers alone mean little to the general consumer.

Cymbidium Kusuda Shining X erythrostylum

Cymbidium Kusuda Shining X erythrostylum

Cymbidium Kusuda Shining X erythrostylum

Cymbidium Kusuda Shining X erythrostylum

Cymbidium Kusuda Shining X erythrostylum

Cymbidium Kusuda Shining X erythrostylum

As a record of my special day in Oxnard, the timer was set on the camera and a little group shot taken of my friend and I and his wonderul hybrid. You can see by the smiles on our faces that we were having a great time. George is such a generous and great friend. I can't wait until we see each other again at the Santa Barbara Orchid Show. Did I mention that George is the breeder of the wonderful hybrid discussed in this blog?

George Hatfield (left) and Randall Robinson (right)
with a group of Cymbidium Kusuda Shining X erythrostylum

Monday, September 7, 2009

National Cymbidium Show - Melbourne

Colin Gillespie's Stand
(note all the blue ribbons)

When a big show comes to town there is always a bit of a buzz in the air. I have fond memories of every February in my childhood because of the biggest show in town for me, The Philadelphia Flower Show. This was the one big outing of the year for me. Imagine, in the middle of winter in the northeast of the United States, being treated to acres of the most exotic plants gathered together in enormous displays, all in the comfort of a heated convention centre. All the great nurseries of the tri-state area would be there. Styer's Nursery, with their beds of forced hardy plants, flowering well out of season. The DuPont family with magnificent displays of massed tropical plants. Several of the local orchid nurseries always had stunning displays. These orchid displays were always my favourite.

At 12 years old, my Grandmother accompanied my mother and I to the Philly Flower Show. This was an eye opener for Grammy and even better that her grandson could show her around. This was also the year I was allowed to buy my first orchids. The previous year I had purchased a Pepperomia obtusifolia, but this year I graduated to Maxillaria variabilis, a white Phalaenopsis and a little Oncidium cheirophorum. The delightful thing about the Philadelphia Flower Show is that the sales area is nearly as big as the display area. Probably a hectare or more. What appeared to be hundreds of stalls offered everything from orchids to houseplants to exotic bulbs, seeds, trees and shrubs and an endless array of garden supplies and accoutrements. The greenhouses fascinated me the most. You could spend hours wandering around with the thousands of other people doing exactly the same thing.

On the 3rd to the 5th of September, the Cymbidium Orchid Club of Victoria hosted the biggest show in town, The National Cymbidium Show at the Springvale City Hall. While not covering hectares it is certainly large by Australian standards. For me, it held no less 'buzz' than did the Flower Show in Philadelphia. This was the opportunity to see a whole range of plants that I don't grow. It is also a great place to see magnificently grown specimens. My plants will never look like the winning plants in the show, but it is good to know that it is possible! Gives one something to strive for.

Have you ever seen the movie 'Best in Show'? It is a behind the scenes look at the workings of a dog show. The experience of the person that comes along to view the show could not be more different to the experience of those involved behind the scenes. The spectator sees beautifully groomed and presented dogs and happy smiling faces on the trainers. Behind the scenes it is all intrigue and skullduggery. I wondered when I walked into the national show if there was any truth in the movie and if it translated to the orchid world. Certainly the plants were all perfectly groomed and the growers all had happy smiling faces. I think there was a difference here, the people were actually talking to each other and milling around in ever-changing group configurations. This group of exhibitors was actually not conforming to the stereotype portrayed in the movie. Then again, these are plant people, the gentler, kinder souls of the world.

One can't help but be sucked into the excitement of a show. Even if you would never grow many of the plants you can't help but admire the exquisite beauty of the specimens so lovingly cared for and presented. My original aim of this post was to show a perfectly chronicled account of the show but this did not happen. There is no way that all of the winners could have been listed and photographed. Equally hard for me would have been to list all the winners. Actually, this is a convenient excuse for my lack of record keeping. I spent hours taking pictures of the plants and carefully recording their names but failed to record their awards or their growers! A few names of the growers come to mind but I hope they forgive me if their names are spelled incorrectly or I wrongly attribute a plant to them. I tried to check all of the orchid names for the correct spelling but inevitably some will be wrong. Please let me know. Can I blame the labels on the plants?

For me the show was a great place to see what people are growing and showing and to get photos of plants that will never be found in my greenhouse. Above all though, it was a place for me to catch up with my friends from the web forum, old friends and a few new friends that I met over the three days. Well, the plants lived up to expectations and what a social time was had. Shame my wallet is suffering from withdrawal. Nothing went into it all weekend and everything came out.

The proviso of not singling out winners, mentioned above, will be put on hold for the most outstanding display at the show. The grower? Colin Gillespie. Wow, can this guy grow orchids. His plants are like my plants but on steroids. Everything about them is huge and absolutely perfectly formed without a blemish to be seen or a leaf or petal out of place. Alright, his plants are nothing like my plants. Colin is right up there with the best growers in the world and deserves every award he gets. The degree of care and dedication this man shows is to be commended. Come to think of it, it would be hard to find a Cymbidium grower anywhere that could surpass him.

Colin Gillespie's Stand
(Notice all the blue ribbons)

Cymbidium Valley Spash 'Awesome'
A deserving Grand Champion

For the most part, I will let the show and more especially the plants, speak for themselves. The goal of the photography session was not to take pictures of just the winners. While there are winners included in the photos most are just plants that caught my eye or had a special quality about them. They are not even representative of what was at the show. There where so many plants the line had to be drawn somewhere. Basically, I started at one point and just moved through taking pictures at whim until both of my batteries ran out. I couldn't include them all here but will include some in future posts. I hope you like them.

Cymbidium Club of South Australia
(A display of a hundred or so cut spikes. Wayne Bayliss wins best cut spike)

The Central Display area

Terry Poulton's huge tower of flowers.
Another great grower.

Cymbidium Zumma Spring 'Pure Magic'

Cymbidium Valley Splash 'Touch of Pink'

Cymbidium Templestowe Charm 'number 1'

Cymbidium Templestowe Charm 'number 2'

Cymbidium Templestowe Charm 'Matthew'
(This plant caused a great stir. How much did they want to pay for it?)

Cymbidium Spicy Kahn 'Comet'

Cymbidium (Portuguese Passion X Memoria Merv Dunn)

Cymbidium (Paradisean Bullseye X devonianum)

Cymbidium O'Beaston

Cymbidium Ned Kelly 'Cabernet'

Cymbidium Midnight Muffet 'Vivid'

Cymbidium (Memoria Vernell Jenson X Alexandra Beauty) 'Zach'
Grown by Terry Poulton

Cymbidium (Lunikera X Allumination)

Cymbidium Lumines

Cymbidium Kiwi Devonport 'Touch of Class'

Cymbidium Kimberly Splash 'Tee Pee'
Grown by Terry Poulton

Cymbidium Kelly's Winter 'Golden Sovereign'

Cymbidium Kalahari Pepper 'Karen'

Cymbidium (Janis Lin X Anna Szabo) 'Number 2'

Cymbidium (Hazel Fay X Wallacia) 'Bengal'

Cymbidium Havre Des Pas 'Trinity'

Cymbidium (floribundum x Ngaire) 'Orange'

Cymbidium Flaming Pepper 'Tee Pee'
Another Terry Poulton plant. Magnificent colour!

Cymbidium Drouin Masterpiece 'Renae'
For me the most interesting intermediate in the show.

Cymbidium (Coraki Advent X Lunar Glades) 'A-Stounding'

Cymbidium Bulbarrow 'Tepus'

Cymbidium Alexanderi 'Fine'
This one caught my eye from across the room.

Monday, July 6, 2009

The mystery of the Grand Monarch

Cymbidium Grand Monarch 'Exquisitum'
(RHS image)

Cymbidium Grand Monarch 'Exquisitum'
In real life.

In the early years of orchid registration by the Royal Horticultural Society all new crosses were treated as horses are today; all crosses had their birthday as the 1rst of January of the year of their registration. One other little quirk of these early years of registration was the order in which the parents were listed. Unfortunately, in the early years species used in a cross were put in alphabetical order, regardless of their contribution. In recent times the Pod Parent (Mother) is listed first and the Pollen Parent (Father) is listed second.

Cymbidium Grand Monarch was registered in the same year it received an award, 1931. On the 24th of November 1931, McBean's exhibited a plant of C. Grand Monarch 'Exquisitum'. At this November meeting, the judges decided to give it an Award of Merit. Interestingly, the plant was a first-flowered seedling and had one spike of 10 flowers. One wonders what award this plant would have received if the grower had waited a year or two. The flower count on an individual spike would not have increased, due to the influence of the 1-flowered grandparent C. eburneum, but it may have had several spikes that would have made an impressive display.

It always amazes me what qualities make a plant worthy of keeping in cultivation. Many apparently fine plants are seen for a couple of years and then disappear from showbenches and collections. Cymbidium Grand Monarch has been in continuous cultivation since its introduction and has actually increased in popularity as the years have gone by. From 1931 until 1956 C. Grand Monarch was completely ignored by the hybridizers but gained popularity in its own right. Why? Here was a large flower on a compact plant that had interesting colour and fragrance. Why did it take 25 years for the first hybrids to be made using this fascinating plant?

Between 1956 and 1989 a total of 25 hybrids were made using C. Grand Monarch; 11 times as a pod parent and 14 times as a pollen parent. Surprisingly, not many of these hybrids have gained any recognition. Where they bad? Did they come in a period when clear, bright colours were the flavour of the day? Probably the most famous of the progeny of Grand Monarch is the beautiful green C. Sicily (C. Baldur x Grand Monarch). Other potentially interesting hybrids that I would love to see are Grand Azi (C. Alexanderi x Grand Monarch) and Grand Vizier (C. goeringii x Grand Monarch). Some of the hybrids, judging only by the parents, where obviously very speculative crosses and were probably not well thought out (read ugly).

The origianl plant of C. Grand Monarch 'Exquisitum' proved very popular with particular groups of people. The English and Scottish treasured the plant because of its hardiness, compact growth, free flowering nature, large flowers and fragrance. A powerful combination. The Californians liked it equally well, for the same reasons the English and Scots liked it. Australia, being part of the Commonwealth came under the spell of C. Grand Monarch after plants found their way here in the 1950's.

Although plants of C. Grand Monarch were introduced before the 1950's by the 'Brits', it was actually plants introduced by the Italians that most strongly influenced the popularity of C. Grand Monarch here in Australia. Mass migration of Italians to Australia in the 1950's brought many cultural changes to Australia, particularly the finer things in life like food, wine, plants and a well developed sense of fun and continuity of culture. Many of the migrants brought reminders of the 'Home Country'. One of these reminders was the plant under discussion here. This strong emotional tie ensured that not only was the plant treasured by the original owners but passed on to others in the same community as an attempt to re-establish a the old country in a new homeland. Amongst the general public, C. Grand Monarch has gained the rare honour of being one of those plants that has actually retained its cultivar name in the common name. It is called The Grand Monarch Orchid, just as Rosa 'Peace' is called The Peace Rose or Acer platanoides 'Crimson King' is called Crimson King Maple. For an orchid to be identified by the wider community by it actual cultivar name is a very rare and special occurrance.

My first encounter with C. Grand Monarch was while studying at the Royal Horticultural Societies Garden at Wisley in England. The collection of plants in that orchid collection had some very fine plants, many of them old hybrids and species. Three of the plants that I fell totally in love with were C. elegans, C. Grand Monarch 'Exquisitum' and Cymbidium Caroll (C. Alexanderi x eburneum). It was such a disappointment to have to leave the orchid collection at the RHS. Thankfully, my move to Australia meant that a ready supply of C. Grand Monarch was available. But was it? Many of the plants I came across in Australia were not the same as the plants seen in England. Occasionally, a plant would appear that matched the English plants. At one local orchid show there were three distinct plants all exhibited under the name C. Grand Monarch 'Exquisitum'. Being a botanist, this situation was intolerable and bothered me to the core. Never one to shirk a challenge, I set about working out what was what.

Lets start with what goes in to making C. Grand Monarch. The parentage of C. Grand Monarch is C. hookerianum x C. Wiganianum. Now, C. Wiganianum is a primary hybrid between C. eburneum and C. tracyanum. This is good, there are only three species involved; hookerianum contributing 50% of the genes, eburneum and tracyanum 25% each. Problem 1, there are various forms of each of these species, with one of the forms of hookerianum being particularly spotty (var. punctatum). The variety punctatum of C. hookerianum is not recognised as a true variety but is still recognised as a cultivated variety or CV. This would mean that it is written as C. hookerianum 'Punctatum'. First challenge? Get a plant of C. hookerianum 'Punctatum'. Thankfully, this was relatively easy. There are some fine correctly labelled plants in choice collections around the world. My plant was sourced from a very reputable grower in Tasmania. When the plant flowered I realized that one of the spotty green plants I saw around the traps was C. hookerianum 'Punctatum. One spotty green Cymbidium down several more to go.

Cymbidium hookerianum 'Punctatum'

Photo by Dr. Susan Bevan

Two more hookerianum things turned up at different shows at opposite ends of the state of Victoria. The first one was exhibited by Lois Barber at the Ararat Show. It had a Blue Ribbon on it by the time I saw it. It was the centerpiece of her display. The plant was large and well grown, half a dozen spikes each with about 20 flowers. I was in love. It was green and a little spotty at the base of the petals but a bit more wavy than what I knew as Grand Monarch. Not being one who is shy, the question 'have you got a division you are willing to sell, came out of my mouth right after she served me tea and scones in the cafeteria. She sent her husband home to get one. A few dollars later and two plants heavier, I was the proud owner of C. Erica Sander (hookerianum x Pauwelsii). Oh well, not Grand Monarch but a stunning plant none-the-less.

Cymbidium Erica Sander
N.B. The identity of this plant has been questioned by an international authority. Proceed with caution!

The next plant to turn up was not a Grand Monarch either. It was the very common C. Lowio-grandiflorum (C. hookerianum x lowianum). Again, a very beautiful plant but not the green I was after. It was sold to me out of flower as C. Grand Monarch 'Equisetum'. Now the true name should be 'Exquisitum'. The name Equisetum is the generic name of the Horsetail plant. An easy mistake to make. Putting the wrong name on the wrong plant, unfortunately, is also an easy mistake to make.

Cymbidium Lowio-grandiflorum 'Clearview'

Ok, lets get back to the spotty C. hookerianum hybrids. Now that we have C. hookerianum 'Punctatum' out of the way and a couple of unspotted green hybrids, that leaves us two potential candidates. The first is easily disposed of as a potential candidate for Grand Monarch status. Then again maybe not so easily disposed of. Cymbidium Rosefieldense is a primary hybrid between C. hookerianum and C. tracyanum. This plant is by far the plant most commonly sold as C. Grand Monarch. Rosefieldense regularly appears on ebay and at many orchid shows as Grand Monarch. Nice as it is it is not the genuine article. Rosefieldense was registered and awarded an AM by the RHS in 1912. More recently, improved forms have been made. I have way too many plants in my collection of Rosefieldense, all but three purchased as C. Grand Monarch. Thankfully, the plant is extremely popular, a rampant grower and flowerer and is easy to sell.

Cymbidium Rosefieldense

We finally get to the genuine article, C. Grand Monarch 'Exquisitum'. As mentioned before this is a hybrid between hookerianum and Wiganianum. Let us finaly look at the species that make up this hybrid. Cymbidium hookerianum we have already seen. Cymbidium Wiganianum is a rarely seen but beautiful plant in its own right. The one parent of Wiganianum, C. eburneum, is the well known Lilac-scented Cymbidium. This refined species usually produces but one flower on a stem but that one flower is a stunner. Mostly white, or with a blush of pink, and the most intoxicating fragrance. Cymbidium tracyanum on the other hand is the real 'Masculine' member of the Cymbidium genus. Robust, chunky leaves and spikes with big, bold, dark flowers and a deep rich fragrance. Cross these two divergent species together and you get a delicate green with some spotting and three-day growth on the lip and reeking of cheap aftershave. I have to thank Ed Merkle for supplying me with the wonderful pictures of C. Wiganianum and the description of him having to drive for hours with the car air-conditioning on refresh to keep the smell of C. Wiganianum at bay.

Cymbidium eburneum crossed with

Cymbidium tracyanum 'Atlantis'

Cymbidium Wiganianum Photo Courtesy of Ed Merkle

Now you would think that the story would end here. This all makes sense and it is all very straightforward. When you deal with humans nothing ever goes to plan. You can argue until you are blue in the face and some people will just keep coming back and saying 'no you're wrong, my plant is a Grand Monarch'. Well for those who do not believe there is only one thing to do; put the plants next to each other and take a photo. So here they are, Rosefieldiense and Grand Monarch, cheek to jowl.

Cymbidium Rosefieldense (top flower) Cymbidium Grand Monarch 'Exquisitum' (lower flower)

There are some real and clearly visible differences between Rosefieldense and Grand Monarch. The main differences are:

Darker Green
denser/smaller spots
all segments narrower/shorter
flower about as wide as tall
Calli white with long hairs
Grand Monarch
Whitish Green
Fewer/larger spots
All segments broader/longer
Flower wider than tall
Calli yellow with short dense hairs.

Just so you can see for yourself, there are a series of photos of the labellums and calli of all the species and hybrids involved in the hybrids Rosefieldense and Grand Monarch. The key here is to look at the calli on the labellum. There is no way to get yellow calli from a direct cross of hookerianum and tracyanum (Rosefieldense). Alternatively, you can only get a yellow callus with short hairs by introducing eburneum into the mix.

Cymbidium hookerianum
crossed with

Cymbidium tracyanum

Cymbidium Rosefieldense

Cymbidium eburneum
crossed with

Cymbidium tracyanum

Cymbidium Wiganianum Then crossed onto

Cymbidium hookerianum produces

Cymbidium Grand Monarch 'Exquisitum'

The definite genuine article.

Cymbidium Grand Monarch 'Exquisitum'

For years I have been trying to find genuine, disease-free plants of C. Grand Monarch. There are plenty of the genuine article around but not many of them are disease-free. Thats what happens when Stella gives a plant to Rose, who gives a plant to Mariska. I did manage to get a sprouted backbulb from a local grower after pestering him for 5 years. It lived exactly 5 months in my collection before being taken out by 47 degrees Celsius on the 7th of February. I resigned myself to another 5 year search. When I was wandering around my friends greenhouse on the weekend a plant caught my eye. He said, "what is that flowering, another Rosefieldiense?"I took one look at it and knew what it was. Cymbidium Grand Monarch 'Exquisitum'. It was in his son's section of the greenhouse. Not only was it the genuine article it was correctly labelled. After testing, it proved to be virus-free. When we talked to his son he mentioned that he probably had a few of them. Wow, going from desperation to winner in a matter of seconds! Now there is a small plant of C. Grand Monarch 'Exquisitum' sitting alongside some of my other 'Vintage' beauties. What a lucky man I am.


Since writing this blog, I have taken a couple of more photos that clearly illustrate the difference between Grand Monarch and Rosefieldense. Hope you like them!

Cymbidium Grand Monarch

Cymbidium Rosefieldense