The Journal of the Canadian Orchid Congress
Le Journal de la Fédération Canadienne des Sociétés Orchidophiles

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June 1996
Volume 8 - Number 2

Editor: Malcolm Adams


C.O.C. President's Message

Spring has been late here as it has been across our country. On the wood surrounding my rural house in Nova Scotia, the wild Pink Lady Slippers Cypripedium acaule, are finally in bloom and blooming better than usual!

In this special issue, Marilyn Light and others have written about conservation issues concerning our native orchids and tropical ones as well.

People from different of Canada have written me and asked what is the COC and what is it all about? What I will do here is to try to answer this question from my perspective. I hope that newsletter editors in our societies would reprint this answer in their newsletters.

The COC is an association of Canadian orchid societies that have banded together to work on common goals. We are not an alternative to American Orchid Society, we don't have the people, resources or money to even approach what the American Orchid Society does. Thus we work on issues that are primarily of a Canadian nature for orchid societies and amateur hobbyists. While the orchid business in Canada benefits from our existence. we don't represent them or their interests although sometimes our interests overlap.

There are about 25 member societies in the Canadian Orchid Congress representing about 3,000 orchid hobbyists. Member societies pay a small fee, $1.00 per member to join the COC. Individuals can subscribe to the COC Newsletter for $15.00 but they cannot join as members. Only societies can be members.

The COC does have an executive that's currently spread from Nova Scotia to British Columbia. It's simply impossible to have monthly meetings like a typical orchid society. This has made coordination of efforts difficult, but when acting on a national level we have benefited greatly. Each year a member society is host to a COC Convention in which representatives from our member societies meet to conduct business and share our hobby. This meeting typically occurs in the spring, but this year will be in October in Halifax.

What we do is add value to the activities and operations of our member orchid societies. We do these things nationally so you can be successful locally:

The COC consists of the orchid societies in Canada that have banded together to help you enjoy your orchid society. Like most societies, you can get a lot out of it, but you have to put something into it! Since we only send three copies of this newsletter to any one club, please share it with your other society members. It's one way to get more out of the COC.

Finally, I would like to remind you that the Canadian Orchid Congress convention this year will be October 19 and 20 in Halifax, Nova Scotia. There has never been a COC convention or an AOS sanctioned show before in Canada's Atlantic Provinces. So come out, show them your support and make this national event a local success.

Steve Saunders, President C.O.C.

Message From The Conservation Committee

What is conservation? What can YOU do for conservation?

Conservation is by definition the wise use of a resource. Every orchidist practices conservation when they learn about the orchids in their collection and how to ensure their survival. Likewise, measures to virus-proof a collection, to keep pests at bay, and sharing/selling/exhibiting only healthy, pest-free orchids are worthwhile conservation initiatives for hobbyists.

Conservation projects undertaken by groups of individuals might include seed exchange and the propagation of rare or unusual tropical orchids from seeds, hand-pollination of wild orchids to increase fruit set and seed yield, the reintroduction of nursery-raised plants to a habitat that is known to have once supported the species, or the transplantation of native plants whose habitat is threatened to a new locality, with of course, permission of the landowners concerned. Other worthwhile initiatives could include educational presentations to school children or working collaboratively with conservation-oriented organizations. What does YOUR CLUB do for conservation? Let us know and we will publish it in the next available issue of the COC News.


We have recently obtained information regarding the issuance of CITES Export Permits. Effective immediately, the Canadian Wildlife Service will undertake issuance of all CITES export permits for all shipments of artificially propagated plants except those for plant species indigenous to Quebec.

For Application Forms or for more information about the Importation and the Exportation of orchids, please contact:

Jean R. Robillard, Deputy Administrator, CITES, Canadian
Wildlife Service, Ottawa, Canada KlA 0H3
e-mail: robillardj @

Bud's Story

"It will be 14 years this September since I did my first transplant of Pink Lady's-slippers (Cypripedium acaule) in the wild. I had the permission of the Province of Manitoba allowing the use of Crown Land and forest reserves for this purpose. I removed the orchid plants from an area that was going to be destroyed and transplanted them to a forest reserve. Some of these plants have since been removed by others unknown to me. I had a work permit that allowed me to dig and transplant orchids in Provincial Parks. In 1983, I transplanted orchids to see how these plants might establish in a new area. Last year, all I found were empty holes! Even the parks do not protect plants from people that have no respect for the law."

There are many challenges for those that work with native orchids including natural disasters, human impact and development and acts of vandalism. While studying Cypripediums near Grand Rapids, Manitoba (270 miles North of Winnipeg), Bud had his numbered plant tags removed or moved to another location, effectively stopping the study. One transplant and study area was turned into a gravel pit, while several years ago forest fires ravaged other study areas, effectively killing the plants. Fungal diseases also occasionally devastate orchids such as the Pink, Yellow and Showy Lady's-slippers.

Despite these disappointments, Bud continues to document his observations and work towards orchid conservation. He hopes to publish his findings in the near future. Bud was First Prize winner (Native Orchids) at the 13th World Orchid Congress, Auckland, New Zealand, and will be a participating photographer (Manitoba) for the Native Orchid Slide project of the COC.

To contact Bud Ewacha:

Bud Ewacha,
Conservation Representative, Manitoba O.S.
35 St. Michael Road,
Winnipeg. MB,
R2M 2K7

(204) 253-4741

Photographic Slide Project - Canada's Native Orchids

This project is well underway. The two National coordinators, Bernie Huising (Western Region) and Todd Boland (Eastern region) have been working hard to get all taxa not documented in 1995 photographed this year. Todd reports that he plans to visit Newfoundland's Great Northern Peninsula in mid-July to capture on film those orchids unique to that Province. Kevin Tipson, Conservation Representative SOOS, plans to photograph Goodyera repens and Corallorhiza striata this year. He tells us that he has good photos of the Small White Lady's-slipper (Cypripedium candidum) and of its natural hybrids. Michael MacConaill (Ottawa O.S.) hopes to document a few species missed last year including the diminutive Listera australis. A slide preview session is planned for the COC convention in Halifax later this year.

There is more to this project than merely taking good photographs. Each orchid is being photographed in bloom (whole plant and close-up of flower), the habitat is being documented as well. The script will highlight aspects of the particular plants portrayed, their blooming season, population size and pollinators. When completed, the visual treat will be shared with all COC member societies. Furthermore, we will have documented a segment of Canada's orchid history.

Marilyn Light

Monitoring Temperatures - Day And Night

It is useful to know both the minimum and maximum temperature in a growing area but who wants to get up in the dead of night to check a thermometer. An inexpensive ($30-$40), battery-powered LCD display thermometer with memory (SMART 2 (63-1020)], available from an electronic supply store, captures what the temperature was during the night and displays that minimum temperature at the touch of a button. To protect the 'works' from water or for outdoor use, simply place the case in a transparent plastic zipper bag. The thermometer will display both 'indoor' and 'out- door' temperatures, the outdoor temperature via a waterproof outdoor sensor at the end of a metre-long wire. This function allows the hobbyist to monitor temperatures at two different locations in a greenhouse or under lights.

Marilyn Light

A Method to Avoid Flask Contamination

I try to keep the temperature as even as possible in my flask area (72' F) to prevent changes in pressure in the flasks. Changes in temperature cause changes in pressure. This causes air to be sucked in and out of the flasks and can promote contamination and cause mold to grow.

If possible, leave the plants in the flasks until they look strong (Phrags at about 2" high and a 2" leaf spread and having good roots). When they are to be removed, either because they are large enough or because mold has developed, remove the lid and slap the flask on its side on your other hand and then again on the other side. This will loosen the agar from the sides of the flask. Do not try to pull the plants out by the leaves or you may break off the leaves or the roots. A little mold in the flask does not hurt the plants, but a lot of mold will sometimes be difficult to remove later without damaging the roots.

Jim Eadie. Kilworth Orchids. Komoka. ON

Oriental Cymbidiums - Graceful Plants, Fragrant Flowers

At the recent AOS Trustees Meeting in Vancouver, April 1996, Carl Withner Ph.D., presented an interesting overview of Oriental Cymbidiums, a group of orchids that have recently become popular on the West coast. They may be only recently popular on this continent but they have been cultivated, portrayed and admired in Asia for hundreds of years. The 'commandments' for growing these charming orchids are simple and straight-forward. In spring, do not put them out-of-doors too soon. In summer, don't expose them to too much sun. In autumn, don't keep them too dry. In winter, don't keep them too wet. Plants are traditionally grown in tall narrow, decorative pots. Preferred potting media include coarse sand and/or fired clay granules. The plants may also be grown in conventional fine to medium bark, or in sphagnum moss. Whatever the chosen medium, it should remain moist but be also free and fast-draining to prevent root loss.

According to Maisie Orchid Nurseries, California, the Oriental Cymbidium species similar to the cultivars sold from their nursery are found in the southwestern part of China such as Fujian, Kwongtung, Yunnan, Kwaichow and Szechuen provinces, but some species are widely distributed in India, the Philippines, Thailand and China. Where they grow the summers are warm and humid, the winters cold and dry. Mornings are foggy, the soil is well drained. The Cym. ensifolium types can tolerate more light than either Cym. sinense or Cym. goeringii. All of these orchids are fragrant, some particularly so. They vary not only in the quality of fragrance and flower colour but also in foliage with some such as Cym. ensifolium album var. Tai kung Silver Edge having variegated broad leaves. This and other cultivars such as Cym. sinense var. magicoloratum are coveted for their notable foliage while both in and out of bloom.

Aphids - Trouble With A Capital 'T'

Some call them 'plant lice', others speak of them as 'green fly' and 'black fly', but whichever coloured version you may have infesting your orchids, they spell 'trouble' with a capital 'T'. Aphids are sucking insects about 2mm long that feed on tender shoots, leaves and especially developing inflorescences and flower buds. Infested inflorescences may not develop properly, flowers will be damaged and not particularly attractive. Even if the aphid has long gone, a tiny pinprick scar will be evidence of the feeding episode.

Aphids move from plant to plant searching for fresh sources of their favourite food, plant juices. They are particularly attracted to the colour yellow and you can be certain that if there are any aphids in your collection they most likely will first be found on yellow flowers and buds. Many infestations begin when aphids enter a greenhouse in summer. Simple screening of doors and vents can be an effective deterrent.

Aphids spread plant diseases including Bean Yellow Mosaic Virus, a disease especially virulent when it encounters Masdevallias. The disease is characterized by blotched and misshapen foliage, deformed blooms and eventual plant death.

A growing source of potential aphid infestation is an orchid show. Aphids may already be resident on foliage and flowering plants in the show area or they may arrive on show plants. Not only will infested plants be rejected for judging but they are also a source of infestation for every plant at the show, especially those orchids having yellow blooms. Exhibitors and show committees should be especially vigilant that infested plants never make it to the show floor. Aphids move very quickly, either by walking or by flying to more attractive prize blooms nearby. They reproduce like crazy, giving birth to active offspring on a regular basis. If they are carrying virus, it could be transmitted to whichever plant they choose to feed upon. It could be your plant! Quarantine of plants taken to shows is the flat line of defence against all pests gaining entry to your collection after a show is over. Cutting off the flowers after the show is another method used by seasoned exhibitors. Show committees are encouraged to inspect the decorative plants in the show area before the orchids arrive. Inspect and refuse entry of any infested orchid plants to the show floor. Fellow exhibitors will thank you for your consideration. Your orchids will be healthier for it.

Marilyn Light

Virus-proofing Your Collection

First, some facts about viruses that infect orchids. Viruses do not arise spontaneously but as the result of being actively transmitted to a healthy plant by either a human hand or tool, or by an insect. Viruses are minute, inert particles, which when present in a susceptible living call, cause that cell to produce more of them to the detriment of the cell As more and more cells are infected and die, the plant is slowly but surely weakened and may eventually die. Virus particles contained in the dead plant tissue will remain infective, the only way to destroy virus is to burn the diseased plant. Virus disease cannot be cured!

Virus symptoms are variable. It may take many years or a period of stress to cause the symptoms such as leaf marks, flower deformation and lack of vigour to become obvious. Common symptoms include light streaks, or colour break to appear in flowers. Leaves are frequently pitted and unattractive. Because some infected plants may never show signs of infection the only sure way to detect virus in a plant is to have a leaf sample tested. Several firms offering a testing service are advertised in the 'Orchids', the publication of the American Orchid Society.

The best way to avoid virus transmission is to be particular about what touches your plants, pots, and potting media including hands, tools, and water. When dividing or reporting plants, use sterilized tools and only new pots, potting media, stakes, and tags. Wash your hands between each plant. Use a fresh piece of newspaper on the potting bench for each plant worked with. When cutting flowers use a new razor blade for each plant. It is unwise to dip plants one after another in the same fertilizer or pesticide solution. Spray the plants instead.

For more information about viruses, read How to Control Orchid Viruses: The Complete Guidebook by Gail C. Wisler, 1989.

The AOS Trustees Meeting In Vancouver

The Vancouver Orchid Society hosted the V.O.S. 50th Anniversary Show and the American Orchid Society semi-annual Trustees Meeting on April 10 - 14 on the occasion of the 75th Anniversary of the American Orchid Society. The show theme 'Diamond Jubilee of Orchids' was most appropriate to the elegant Hotel Vancouver setting and to the enchanting displays of colourful orchids. One cannot but marvel at the kaleidoscope of colour and pattern presented by the Odontoglossums and Odontiodas which were displayed in abundance.

The Eric Young Foundation, Jersey, staged a varied selection of Odontoglossums, Paphiopedilums and Cymbidiums for which they are famous. Four Odontoglossums/Odontiodas received AOS awards. Their raspberry-coloured Paph. Gloria Naugle 'St. Peters' (rothschildianum x micranthum) received an AM/AOS 82 pts, captured the Best of Class Paphiopedilum and was declared Grand Champion of the Show. Equally admired was the magnificent deep red Cymbidium Pontac 'Jersey' which received the Best of Class Cymbidium.

Strawberry Creek Orchids, California, presented mostly Odontoglossum alliance material in a rainbow of colours from white through yellow and strawberry pink. Their Oncidioda Crowborough 'Chelsea' AM/RHS not only was awarded an AM/AOS of 83 pts and a CCM/AOS of 84 pts but it also captured both the Best of Class for the Odontoglossum Alliance and for the Oncidium Alliance, and was declared Reserve Champion of the Show.

Valley Orchid Partners showed a deliciously pink Lycaste candida var. lawrenceana 'Betty B' which received a CHM/AOS and won Best of Class for the Lycaste and Anguloa section.

Of 97 plants receiving nominations at the show, 16 AOS awards were given. (Source: List of Show Winners, VOS)

Show registrants were treated to a wide variety of lectures including a series 'Science for the Citizen' dealing with tissue culture, genetics and mycorrhiza. Dr. Carl Withner led a round table discussion of Oriental Cymbidiums, many specimens of which could be admired at the show. I was particularly impressed by the presentation on 'Cyrtochilums: a little known but spectacular member of the Odontoglossum Alliance' by Dr. Howard Liebman whose photography of these interesting orchids was superb.

Congratulations to the organizers of the show and meeting. Very well done, indeed!

Marilyn Light

North American Native Terrestrial Orchids Propagation And Production

The North American Native Orchids Propagation & Production Conference was held at the National Arboretum in Washington, D.C., March 16-17,1996. It was co-sponsored by Friends of the National Arboretum, the National Capital Orchid Society and the Maryland Native Plant Society. This exciting meeting began with an overview of Terrestrial Orchids in North America by Paul Martin Brown. Nine investigators presented their work including Allan Anderson, University of Guelph who discussed the 'Reintroduction of Platanthera ciliaris in Canada'. "On the 22 September, 10 plants of P. ciliaris were planted on crown land adjacent to the Ojibway Prairie in Windsor (Ontario). Some of these plants had a root 8 cm long and a well developed bud. The site will be visited in July, 1996 to determine the survival rate and more plants will be introduced depending on the success of last year's planting".

Svante Malmgren, Sweden, provided a simple yet effective approach to Large Scale Asymbiotic Propagation of European Orchids. Everyone was impressed with the detailed and painstaking approach that Robert Yannetti has taken to investigate the Life Cycle and Propagation of Arethusa bulbosa.

These meetings happen only every few years so it was a welcome opportunity to listen, chat and get to know more about that most important aspect of orchid conservation, propagation. Thanks to the organizers for all the hard work in malting the meeting happen.

A Proceedings will be on sale shortly, estimated price US$25-35. Those interested in purchasing a copy for their library are advised to reserve a copy by writing to:

Carol Allen, 4320 Poplar Hill Road, Germantown, MD 20874, U.S.A

Marilyn Light

Careful Record-keeping Sheds Light on Some of the Mysteries of Successful Flasking And Replating

An Experience With Psychopsis papilio Interspecific Crosses

Psychopsis (Oncidium) 'Northern Ridge' AM/AOS, CCM/AOS is a vigorous specimen worthy of propagation to both perpetuate the species as well as to serve as a seed parent of hybrids. Two hybrids and one outcross were made by Eleanor Sweny of Northern Ridge Orchid Nurseries, Manotick, ON. using the same seed parent on three separate occasions.

Seeds of Psychopsis (papilio x papilio) were harvested in December 1990 from an intact capsule after 140 days. Seeds sown on G&B Mother Flask Medium IV (G&B Orchid Laboratories, Vista. CA) with added charcoal (1/2 tsp per litre) germinated within three weeks. Seedlings, four months old, were replated onto three different media: Phytamax® P0931 (Sigma Chemical Co.) with added charcoal and banana (1/2 banana per litre), G&B IV Replate Medium with added charcoal, and on G&B V Replate Medium which contains charcoal. Replated seedlings initially grew fastest on P0931 with charcoal and banana but at deflasking time seedlings on all media were alike.

The capsule of Psychopsis (papilio x sanderae) = Onc. Butterfly took 185 days to dehiscence. Seeds were surface sterilized then sown on G&B Mother Flask Medium II. They germinated within three weeks. Seedlings were replated after eight months onto G&B Replate Medium II with added charcoal. After a further six months, seedlings were replated a second time onto either P0931 with added charcoal, G&B Replate Medium IV with added charcoal, or on G&B Replate Medium V which contains charcoal. While seedlings replated onto P0931 with added charcoal initially grew faster, a year later there was no observable difference between the plants growing on any of the three media.

The behaviour of a Psychopsis (papilio x kramerianum) cross was different. The capsule was harvested intact in October 1990 after 147 days when the mature seed was sown on G&B Mother Flask Medium IV with or without added charcoal. Germination on an both media took three weeks but large numbers of Protocorms on the medium without added charcoal turned yellow and did not grow further. Seedlings were replated after four months onto either P0931 with added charcoal and banana or G&B Replate Medium V which contains charcoal. Best growth was observed with P0931 medium with added charcoal and banana. Seedlings harvested from this medium were approximately 10 percent larger than those grown on either of the other media but even then these plants were strikingly less vigorous than either of the other two crosses discussed here.

Eleanor Sweny, Northern Ridge Nursery

Details such as provided in this article could not be accurately recalled if it were not for Eleanor's detailed record-keeping. Thank you Eleanor, for having the patience to record the information and for sharing it.

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