Paphiopedilums Ted Croot

The first Paphs were imported (to the UK) in 1758 to Loddiges in Hackney. These were known as Cypripedium sinicum (coming from China) – now known as Paph. purpuratum, followed by others from the Malay peninsula. It was officially described by Wallich in Calcutta in 1820, and was followed by venustum (1820) and insigne (1821) – both from India.

Paph Amandahill White Queen First Love

The genus known as Paphiopedilum was first proposed by Pfitzer in 1886 as being separate from Cypripedium – these being seen as a temperate genus, although this wasn‟t put into general usage for over 70 years. The 2 names are almost identical in meaning, just that one is latin, and the other greek. Cypri is latin for Venus, and Paphio is greek for Aphrodite, and pedium is shoes (or sandals).

The genus is distributed throughout SE Asia from the eastern Himalayas to PNG and the Solomon Islands. A lot of the island species are endemic through isolation such as bouganvillianum and wentworthianum. Due to the wide distribution more species are still being discovered, and will continue to do so as new areas are opened up (such as Burma). There is 1 species that is very geographically separated, which is druryi in the south of India. Up to 1998 69 species were recognised – depending on which botanist you follow. This total is from Cribb who tends to be more of a lumper – preferring fewer species with varieties and colour forms. Within this line of thinking „species‟ such as concolor are just a variety of bellatulum, and wentworthianum & appletonianum are varieties of bullenianum.

Paph Winston Churchill Indominatble

As China opened up in the 1980‟s species such as armeniacum (a tall bright yellow), malipoense (tall scented, chocolate coloured staminode), emersonii (wide petalled white), jackii (variety of malipoense), and the natural hybrid x fanaticum were introduced.

All the leaves grow from the base of the plant, and new plants are attached via a very short rhizome (although some grow from stolons). They have no psuedobulbs to store energy, so need to grow all year around (no rest). The leaves are either plain green or tessellated, although this is no guide to their growing conditions. The stomata are always underneath the leaves. The roots are covered in vellum as with most orchids, but these are hairy and brown.

Paph stonei

The genus is characterised by having a generally short stem with a single flower (although 2 are usually formed, only 1 tends to grow on) – apart from the multiflorals of course, which can have up to 15 (kolopakingii). Sequential flowering species will produce a new flower each month, and last up to 2 years in bloom with up to 33 flowers. Each flower has 3 petals and sepals. Two of the sepals are fused to create a synsepal, and the bottom petal is formed as a pouch. The pouch is there to help fertilisation by trapping an insect which then has to climb up the hairs at the back and past the pollinia to escape, and the pollinia is attached to their backs. When the insect reaches the next flower, it has to escape by the same route, and the pollinia are transferred to the stigmatic surface before fresh pollinia are attached. The petals can be various shaped from almost round (bellatulum) to long and thin (sanderianum – 36“ long).

Most of the species are terrestrials, but some such as lowii & villosum grow as epiphytes, whilst niveum grows as a lithophyte on limestone, and delenatii grows on granite. There is no standard PH as you would expect from such a range of media. In cultivation, however they will grow in almost anything. They are best cultivated in small pots in a reasonably coarse mixture, but not compressed. Addition of dolomitic lime will help most species and hybrids applied as a dressing. Generally they tend to respond to repotting, and seedlings should be done each 6 months, with mature plants every 2 years. Some species such as bellatulum resent division and repotting and will either sulk or die on you. Not all plants will root on new growths (e.g. Maudiae types) which can be a source of annoyance as after repotting they will wobble around.

The method and frequency of watering varies depending on compost types, however, they should be kept moist, and never less than „slightly dry‟. As terrestrials they are a bit less fussy than other orchids, and depending on your location tap water will be sufficient (but check first of course). Feeding is variable, and Ted uses a mixture of growth and bloom formulations as appropriate during the year. Avoid feeds such as Tomorite which supply their nitrogen as urea. Different temperatures apply for species with such a diverse geographical location. Intermediate (15-26C, 55-80F) suits most, with others such as exul needing 25-30C, whilst fairrieanum will go down to 5C. Seasonal variations in light and temperature are essential to initiate flowering. Shading is essential for most species and around 85% humidity is useful (not suited to household environments). All sorts of orchid pests will attack Paphs – slugs, snails, aphids, mealy bugs, scale, and red spider mites. Standard treatments will control them. A bigger problem however, can be rot with Erwinia being a cause for concern – this can kill a plant in a few days, and is contagious. Careful control by sterile trimming will contain it. Prolonged wet compost will encourage the problem so it is necessary to water carefully.

Ted completed the lecture by covering a few primary hybrids and how some traits are more predominant than others. A hearty round of applause followed. Many thanks Ted.