[pleurothallid-l] introduction and pleurothallid identification request

Brian O'Brien bobrien at gustavus.edu
Wed Jun 8 20:42:54 EDT 2005

To All,
     I recently joined both this list and the Pleurothalld Alliance, and 
have long been interested in species orchids, including those that might be 
considered by some to be 'insignificant'.  I could, for instance, imagine 
myself concentrating only on Appendicula or Agrostophyllum - though there 
are too many 'botanicals' in the world to make that a realistic (or 
desirable...) goal.  And I like  beautiful, larger  flowers a great deal, 
as well.  I currently grow humidity-dependent orchids in an Orchidarium, 
modified with timers for both for the fan and for an external humidifier 
(the humidifier operates through a hole cut in the side of the case) to 
keep the humidity sufficiently high, especially in the very dry indoor 
winters here (Minnesota).  I am also the designer of the Wardian case 
described at http://www.orchidlady.com/wardian1.html. (The case worked just 
fine for a long time, but I took it down after a tornado hit here, and the 
space needed to be converted.  I'm considering construction of a new, 
improved one, however, to supplement the Orchidarium  - my orchid 
collection is growing in size, even though I try to limit myself to small 
    Given my growing conditions (unavoidably hot in the winter - a 
centrally heated building in a cold climate; a Wardian case is an absolute 
necessity, and even that requires a lot of maintenance), I would like to 
know of particularly heat-and/or-drought-tolerant pleurothallids.
    There are P. tribuloides and P. schiedei plants in the college 
greenhouse right now, where the humidity is more or less maintained, but 
they haven't flowered for a long time (though they're vegetatively 
robust).  Do those need to be chilled at a particular time?
    With regard to my specific request from members of this list, I bought 
a pleurothallid from Belize from a nursery in Florida a couple of years 
ago.  I took it to a meeting of the Orchid Society of Minnesota a couple of 
months ago, and asked Kathy Creger about its identity - Kathy thinks that 
it is a Trichosalpinx, which is a welcome identification.  I sent a photo 
of this plant in flower to the OGD a couple of years ago - it generated 
some comments from people who thought that it was interesting, but brought 
no identification as to species.  It's a fascinating plant, in that it has 
thick, heavy, highly succulent leaves that shrink when it's about to 
flower, which it does several times a year.  The leaves then enlarge again 
- they are obviously reservoirs.  It flowers multiple times on one 
individual leaf, and the individual leaves are long-lived.  I'll paste in a 
photo after this message.  The plant is in a 3 1/2" or 4" pot (I'm at home 
right now, and don't have the exact pot size).
    I had thought, at the time that I bought this plant, that perhaps I 
shouldn't buy it, due to its possible difficulty - but it has become one of 
my favorite plants, among both orchids and xerophytes (and aroids, 
gesneriads, etc....).
    I would greatly appreciate any insight into the specific identity of 
this plant (or species to which it might be related) that anyone on this 
list can provide.
    As a further bit of introduction with regard to my orchid and other 
plant interests, I'm particularly interested in 
African/Madagascan/other-Indian-Ocean-Island orchids (and in orchids from 
other regions...).  I am also a xerophyte person (I have wonderful 
east-facing windows in the labs where I work - those are populated with 
plants that are designed to cope, in particular, with the conditions of a 
hot, dry winter).  On the other hand, some winter growers are also included.
    This might, to a large extent, be the wrong forum for such a question 
-  but I'll ask again anyway.  I would like to have advice on orchids that 
will tolerate (or even prefer) drought and high temperatures during the 
winter, should any of you know of such plants (are there any 
xero-pleurothallids?), so that I can supplement my collection of other 
xerophytes with such orchids.  I have some Madagascan Oeceoclades that fill 
the bill, but would like to have others.  Right now, I have some Encyclias 
and a couple of Angraecums that I think will be ok (some have already come 
through one winter, in a north, dry window unscathed).  I'm planning to try 
Ansellia africana, and have recently acquired Jumellea rigida, Angraecum 
elephantinum, and Angraecum sororium to try.  I'm a bit concerned about the 
A. sororium, though, and might have to move it into a better environment if 
it doesn't shut down for the winter.



>Hi, things have been WAY too quiet on this list for WAY too long.  I 
>haven't been a member for long, but I have learned quite a bit from 
>various people on the list.  Our local orchid society has been trying to 
>find people to do talks, and I volunteered.  I know, it is all my 
>fault.  As I tried to figure out what to talk about, I started thinking 
>about what I know the most about, and that is pleurothallids.  Living in 
>Florida, I have to be careful of what pleurothallids I try to grow.  I'm 
>going to talk to them about how you decide whether or not an orchid is 
>appropriate for you or not.  I also want to go over the genera with an 
>emphasis on which pleuros are warmth tolerant.  I have a handful, but not 
>enough to fill up a talk.  Does anyone here know of any warmth-tolerant 
>pleurothallids that they would recommend to a bunch of us here in 
>Tallahassee, FL?  Also, do you know of where I can snag some pictures of 
>them?  Our group has a lot of relatively new members, and pictures are 
>very important to them.
>Thanks a lot!
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Brian A. O'Brien, Department of Chemistry, Gustavus Adolphus College
800 West College Avenue, Saint Peter, Minnesota  56082  U.S.A.
e-mail bobrien at gustavus.edu or bobrien at gac.edu
tel. (507)933-7310     fax (507)933-7041   http://www.gustavus.edu/~bobrien  
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