Thursday, February 2, 2012

Mystery Dendrobium identified!

In my previous post, I pointed out an orchid we found at the August 2011 EPOS Show that Senior Management and I both agreed was really rather attractive. To refresh your memory, it was this one:

Of course, being good orchid addicts, we wrote the name down on a scrap of paper. I distinctly remember it being long and unwieldy! Like a particularly absent-minded orchid addict, I then cunningly lost said scrap of paper. After being reminded of how great this flower was while crafting the last post, I thought I'd make an effort to find out what it was. Next time, I will cunningly photograph the labels of plants I like. I have yet to lose a camera... Actually, plant, label, plant, label seems like a good way of photographically documenting a flower show, so you don't end up with lots of unlabelled pictures!

My first thought was to ask the orchid addicts at Orchid Board. One of the users pointed out that OrchidWiz was probably a good place to have a look for this plant. Given the shape of the flowers, and after some false leads looking at things with Dendrobium delicatum in them, I started to strongly suspect the influence of Dendrobium tetragonum somewhere in it's ancestry. I looked at every single cross I could find a picture of with that in its ancestry within OrchidWiz, but the only cross that had a picture that looked vaguely like this was Den. Ellen, a primary hybrid of Dendrobium kingianum and Dendrobium tetragonum. It wasn't quite the right shape or colour, but it was the closest I could get based on the pictures in Orchidwiz. Unfortunately, as comprehensive as it might be, even the mighty OrchidWiz doesn't have photos of every orchid ever flowered, and I couldn't find an orchid that quite matched.

Eventually, I considered it time to harass some people, so I thought "I bet someone at the orchid society knows what it is", so I emailed the secretary. He prompty emailed back asking if it was his plant that won 3rd place in its category, attaching a photo. I had a closer look at the photo, and lo and behold, they matched:

Photo courtesy Johan Gauche
Compare the uppler left bloom with the photos above;
you should find the orientation, shape and colour of the blooms matches.
(L) crop of Johan's picture (R) crop of mine:
So this mystery plant is no longer a mystery!

Hello, Dendrobium Kathryn Banks 'Mottled' x Den. kingianum ('Boundary King' x 'Sparkles').

That is a rather unwieldy name, so I looked up the cross in OrchidWiz. Apparently, Den. Kathryn Banks x Den. kingianum is Dendrobium Kathking - so, put simply, the orchid above is Dendrobium Kathking, the other information being very precise details of its lineage! Incidentally, I managed to find a picture of one of its progenitors - an awarded Dendrobium kingianum cultivar called Dendrobium kingianum 'Sparkles' HCC/AOS - you can find a picture at the AOS website, here. I was unable to find the other named cultivars through Google's image search. I had a quick hunt around online to see if anyone had registered this particular cross as a cultivar (i.e. if it was called Dendrobium Kathking 'SomeFreakyName'), but I couldn't find one.

Oh, and remember Dendrobium Ellen? Well, that's one of it's grandparents!
OrchidWiz's entry on Dendrobium Kathking.
Note the ancestry at the top.
Examples of original ancestors are pictured bottom right;
Dendrobium kingianum (photo by Lourens Grobler),
Dendrobium tetragonum (photo by OrchidWiz).

It is quite surprising how dominant the shape of Den. tetragonum (click to see picture at IOSPE) seems to be in its progeny; this plant is effectively 12.5% tetragonum and 87.5% kingianum, yet the rather longer petals and sepals of tetragonum seem to come through quite strongly. Here's a picture of my Den. kingianum so you get an idea of what I'm talking about: 
Dendrobium kingianum.
Note the rounder, shorter petals and sepals.

Now we shall see if we can aquire one - apparently, Johan got his from Caro-Lin orchids in Port Elizabeth. Thanks for solving the mystery, Johan!