Saturday, June 16, 2018

Update On Orchid Seeds That Germinated On My Tree

On the OrchidBoard, Camille1585 requested an update on the orchid seeds that germinated on my tree.


In 2011 I sowed a bunch of different orchid seeds on my Cedar tree and much to my very pleasant surprise some of them actually germinated...

Symbiotic Orchid Germination 1a 008

All the seedlings turned out to be Laelia anceps.  Over the years I've documented the growth of the largest seedling...

December 2012

Dockrillia, Crassula, Orchid seedling

June 2013

Volunteer Orchid Seedling

Dec 2013

Laelia anceps Volunteer

Aug 2014

Laelia anceps

Nov 2014

Laelia anceps volunteer

April 2016

Laelia anceps

June 2018

Laelia anceps

There's a really big disparity between the seedlings in terms of size.  Here's one of the smallest seedlings...

What explains the remarkable size disparity?  Is it because of the difference in the seeds and/or the difference in the microhabitats and/or the difference in the helper fungus?

The largest seedling germinated right next to the roots of a slow growing variety of Dendrobium teretifolium.  Evidently the Dendrobium harbored a fungus in its roots that the Laelia seed was able to put to good use.  Is this fungus from Australia like the Dendrobium, or from Mexico like the Laelia, or is it pantropical?  In any case, given that the Laelia is in the process of outgrowing and overgrowing the Dendrobium, clearly it isn't always advantageous for an orchid to harbor fungus that can help germinate the seeds of unrelated orchids.   I wonder whether the seeds of this Dendrobium would be able to germinate near the roots of this Laelia.

Right now the largest seedling has five new pseudobulbs starting to grow.  In many, if not most, years its pseudobulbs mature around August and new ones would start to grow.  They would mature late winter or early spring.  Part of the reason for this is because this individual hasn't yet allocated any energy to blooming!  It is definitely not precocious.  The trade-off between growing and blooming is quite interesting.

Last year I removed two keikis from my very wonderful Dendrobium Gloucester Sands (discolor x canaliculatum) and attached them to boards...

The smaller keiki decided to put out roots and a new pseudobulb while the larger keiki decided to bloom.  Blooming is very costly in terms of energy so, for a plant this size, I'd normally nip the spike in the bud, so to speak.  In this case I decided to leave it for illustrative purposes.  Some animal decided to mostly override my decision by eating all of the buds except for one.

The "pockets" made of shade cloth are filled with slow-release fertilizer granules.  This effectively fertilizes all the mounted plants beneath it, but I really shouldn't have attached the pockets to the boards.  Bundling the pockets and the boards discourages me from moving the boards.   Instead, I should have made completely "independent" pockets.  Another thing, seedlings and small newly mounted divisions don't respond well to lots of fertilizer.

Getting back to the Den Gloucester Sands, here are its roots growing on my Pachypodium lamerei...

Dendrobium Gloucester Sands (discolor x canaliculatum) roots on Pachypodium lamerei

Here's a video of it...

Diversity is the best.  Last September I excitedly purchased a flask of Bc Beulah Bradeen (Cattleya walkeriana x Brassavola nodosa) from eBay.  Both parents have done quite well for me so I was very curious to see whether their offspring might do even better.  As per my standard operating procedure, I carefully mounted the largest seedlings on sections of trellis wood...

I distributed all the mounts throughout the garden.  So far only around five seedlings survived the winter.  And it was a pretty reasonable winter... it didn't even freeze.

Why did so many seedlings die?  Was it primarily from a lack of heat?  Or was it primarily from a lack of water?  During winter, for most of my plants I drastically cut back on watering.  In any case, given that a few seedlings survived, there's certainly variation in terms of the seedlings and/or the microhabitats.

One issue with flasks is that there's usually no selection in terms of drought tolerance.  Last fall I had a relevant e-mail discussion with an orchid hybridizer in Australia who specializes in tea tree orchids.  He had recently registered Dendrobium Ultraviolet, which is a cross between a less succulent orchid, Den Berry, and a more succulent orchid, Den canaliculatum.  Even though the cross is 62.5% canaliculatum, it looks more like kingianum.

My theory is that, in a flask with adequate moisture, storing water is a disadvantage.  Seedlings that are more succulent are going to lose the competition for limited space to the seedlings that are less succulent.  So when a more succulent orchid is crossed with a less succulent orchid, if the seeds are flasked, then the seedlings will be less succulent.

I think the same concept must be true for temperature.  If a cooler growing orchid (ie Den Berry) is crossed with a warmer growing orchid (ie Den canaliculatum), and the flasked seeds are kept cooler, then the seedlings will predominantly be cooler growers.  I doubt that any professional flasking laboratories expose their flasks to temps as high as the temps that Den canaliculatum experiences in its native habitat.  Basically, the deck is stacked against Den canaliculatum's warmer growing and drought tolerating traits.   

Orchids populations, like all populations, conform/adapt to their conditions/environment.  Here's the most relevant passage that I've found on the general topic...

An ovule is successfully fertilized by only one pollen grain out of (potentially) many thousands.  If fertilization is performed at a sufficiently low temperature, the growth of chilling-resistant genotypes of pollen will be favored over others.  These will reach the ovule first so that their genes will appear in the resulting seed.  At no other stage of development can selection be made on such large numbers of genotypes. - Brad D. Patterson and Michael S. Reid, Genetic and Environmental Inlfuences on the Expression of Chilling Injury

What's very interesting to consider is what happens when an orchid is pollinated during the spring or fall here in Southern California.  A few days ago the high temps were in the low 90s.  Now the highs are in the low 70s.  That's a pretty big range of high temps.  Imagine how much impact this fluctuation would have on the race for the ovule.  In theory the most hercuthermal genotypes should win the race.

Laelia anceps generally blooms from fall to spring... depending on the plant and its conditions.  Honestly I don't even remember pollinating my Laelia anceps.  For all I know the seeds that germinated on my tree were from a Laelia anceps owned by unknown neighbors.  But in terms of adapting to SoCal's climate, it is advantageous for Laelia anceps to bloom when it does.  Unfortunately, its blooming also coincides with my break from my plants.  I think that, after the seeds germinated on my tree, I only once tried to pollinate my anceps, but no pods developed.  Evidently the pollen that I used (ie Brassavola) was too different.

There have been a few other times when I sowed other orchid seeds on my tree.  Only one of these other sowings was somewhat successful...

New Orchid Seed Germinated On My Tree

I noticed this NOID seedling in 2016.  It germinated right next to the roots of a Vanda tricolor.  I looked around and managed to spot a few other similar seedlings in the vicinity.  It is definitely a sympodial orchid and its pseudobulbs and the undersides of its leaves are burgundy.  When Camille1585 asked for an update on the Laelia anceps seedlings, I climbed the tree and noticed that one of these NOID seedlings was about to fall off because somebody, probably a squirrel, had dislodged the piece of bark that it was attached to.  I carefully removed the seedling and attached it to a board...

If you zoom in you can see a bunch of reed-stem Epidendrum seeds germinating near the NOID seedling.  My hope is that the helper fungus in the roots of the NOID seedling will inoculate the reed seeds.  It's my best guess that, unlike other orchid seeds, reed seeds already have enough nutrients to germinate on their own.  Even if this is the case I still want to help to spread the fungus that helped the NOID seedling germinate.

The board is sitting on my coffee table without any sort of covering and its right under a bendy octopus type lamp that stays on during the day.  Right now the reed seeds are completely dry.  Hopefully this is giving an advantage to the marginally more drought tolerant individuals.

Next to the NOID seedling's mount is another mossy mount that has a reed seedling on it...

Also on the board are some Echeveria gibbiflora seedlings and a Schlumbergera microsphaerica that I received last fall.  The Schlumbergera grew quite well over the winter.  I'm really happy with how well it has done even though the house was coldish during the winter.   If anybody is interested, this species is currently for sale on eBay.  The vendor also has some other interesting plants for sale.

Getting back to orchids, one of my very favorites is Dendrobium trilamellatum...

This robust epiphyte thrives in habitats in which few other orchids can survive. It occurs from a little south of Cooktown to the islands of Torres Strait, southern New Guinea and the Top End of the Northern Territory. It is a species of the very seasonal and hot open melaleuca woodlands where the wet season usually starts in December with occasional storms building to heavy rain in January to March, followed by a dry season in which virtually no rain falls from June to November. The Yellow Antelope Orchid flowers in spring (July to November) and the flowers are attractive, long lasting and pleasantly scented. They are about three to four centimetres across. In cultivation this species does moderately well, but must be given a dry season and the medium must be well drained. - Bill Lavarack, Bruce Gray, Australian Tropical Orchids

Last month mine bloomed for the first time.  There were only two flowers.  I really wasn't quite in my plant "mood" yet, but because I love this orchid so much, I knew that I'd be really disgruntled with myself if I didn't endeavor to put the pollen to good use.  So I used the pollen to try and pollinate two closely related Dendrobiums...

Dendrobium canaliculatum x (parnatanum x trilamellatum)
Dendrobium canaliculatum x antennatum

Both these orchids now have a seed pod developing on them, but the first orchid's seed pod is twice as large.  When the pods ripen should I sow the seeds on my tree?  I'd like to, in order to select for the individuals that are best suited to my conditions, but I'm not confident that any seeds would germinate.  Right now I'm leaning towards offering the seeds to the curator of the Huntington's succulent collection.... John Trager.  A while back he had an Oncidium cebolleta cross flasked and the seedlings were included as part of the 2012 International Succulent Introductions (ISI).  It was really great to see an orchid offered alongside the other succulent plants.  Since that year no other orchid has been offered in the ISI so naturally I think it's time for another orchid, or two, to crash the succulent party.

If I was going to summarize all of this entry with one word... I'd go with "Californication".  It's a show staring David Duchovny as a writer.  Unfortunately the show isn't about plants but the word "Californication" strikes me as really relevant to the incredible and amazing and fascinating process of the millions and millions of non-native plants growing here in California being selected for, and adapting to, California's climate.  Any Californian who grows non-native plants outdoors helps to facilitate this process, especially when they grow these plants from seed.  In theory, since orchids produce so many seeds, they should adapt the fastest.  But then there's the tricky issue that virtually all orchid seeds require fungus or flasking to germinate.   Well, this issue is only tricky if we assume, or decide, that Californication is truly desirable.

Anybody else a fan of Blade Runner?  The setting is Los Angeles in 2019.  There's an abundance of flying cars, but a scarcity of plants.  Personally, if we are going to err, then we should err on the side of too many plants.  If we're going to give future people something to complain about, then let them complain about an abundance of plants.   Let them complain that California has too many different varieties of tree Aloes that host too many different varieties of orchids that nourish too many different varieties of hummingbirds and harbor too many different varieties of lizards.

Maybe the one movie that best depicts how we should err is Annihilation.  This passage comes to mind...

A few species of orchids are occasionally able to become established in very odd microhabitats.  Withner (personal communication) reports seeing small orchids - probably Comparettia Poep. And Endl. - growing on mango leaves.  Since the leaves last about three years, this suggests that the orchid may complete a life cycle within this relatively short time.  Even more bizarre, Bowling (orchid propagator, Kew; personal communication) told me that he had once seen a tiny Microcoelia Lind. Growing on a spider's web in Ghana!  I very much doubt, however, that either leaves or webs will ever become very important orchid habitats. - William W. Sanford, The Orchids, Scientific Studies

Here's a photo of orchids growing on leaves, here are some photos of an orchid blooming on a leaf, and here's a video of an orchid blooming on a leaf.  Unfortunately I haven't seen a photo of an orchid growing on a spider's web, but I've seen plenty of spider webs on orchids.  Maybe Sanford is correct that leaves and webs won't become important orchid habitats but, given that ants live inside the pseudobulbs of certain orchid species, and virtually all orchid seeds need a fungus in order to germinate, and there are many different orchids that are happy to grow on cactus, I personally wouldn't underestimate potential associations between orchids and other organisms.


The largest Laelia anceps bloomed on Jan 2019....

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Free Plants - Succulents, Ferns, Bromeliads, Orchids

Next week, in the Los Angeles Craigslist, I plan to post the following...


Right now I have a plethora of plants and projects.  My plan is to super decentralize them.   What, exactly, do I mean by "decentralize"?  Basically I want to spread my plants and projects among as many different people as possible.  So rather than the plants being "mine"... they will be "ours".  This comes with the expectation that, down the road, you will happily share divisions or cuttings or seeds with me if I ask for some.

There are several plants that I have many extras to share.  I will primarily start with these.  For example...

- Aloe cameronii
- Aloe arborescens variegated
- Epiphyllum oxypetalum (cuttings)
- Epiphyllum strictum (cuttings)
- Solandra maxima (cuttings)
- Tillandsia aeranthos
- Tillandsia tricolepsis

Everyone who visits can freely have any, or all, of these plants... while supplies last.   After they are all shared then I'll transition to the plants with less duplicates.  Naturally, given that these are fewer in number, I will have to prioritize who I share them with.  Here are some of the factors that I will consider...

- Proximity
- Greenness of thumb
- Blogs about plants
- Posts plant photos on Flickr
- Uploads plant videos to Youtube
- Reads my EpiEcon blog
- Helps with the donate-to-vote project
- Shares plants with others
- Promotes growing plants epiphytically
- Likes the Epiphyte Society of Southern California (ESSC) Facebook page
- Likes the Orchid Society of Southern California (OSSC) Facebook page
- Participates in the ESSC Facebook group
- Participates in the SCARPA Facebook group
- Interested in creating phorobanas
- Grows plants from seed

These factors don't all carry the same weight and I will consider other factors as well.  Please let me know if you have any questions and I look forward to cultivating many new plant friendships.


I wanted to post this here on my blog first in order to give any readers in the area an early opportunity to participate.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Please Introduce Me To Awesome Plants!!

Last Saturday I went to the Los Angeles Fern and Exotic Plant Show with my friend Scadoxus.  Here are some of the plants that caught my attention...

Platycerium alcicorne type

Personally I have a penchant for pendant plants so I tend to prefer Playceriums that match my pendulous preference... such as certain varieties of Platycerium willinckii.  The Staghorn in the above picture is the least pendant Platy that I've ever seen.  It definitely caught my attention and I have to admit that I kinda like it.  

Hoya revolubilis - The Kunming Kina of Southern China

This is easily one of my top five favorite Hoyas.  The leaves are relatively succulent and it's a good epiphytic grower.  A while back I attached a piece of this and a piece of the somewhat similar, and far more common, Hoya shepherdii to a board covered in New Zealand Sphagnum moss.  Both Hoyas established fairly quickly but revolubilis won the competition by a mile.  The shepherdii was on its last leg when I took pity on it and moved the mount to the area that I water most frequently.  

The revolubilis in the photo is a very impressive specimen.  We all like impressive specimens... but... the Epiphyte Society of Southern California (ESSC) has a rule about specimens.  Members of the ESSC are allowed to have specimens as long as they have already shared cuttings with all the other members.  Share, then specimen.  This rule is beneficial in several different ways.  First, it helps the plant.  No plant wants to have all its eggs in too few baskets.  Plants are all about colonization (location diversification).  Second, it helps the grower hedge their bets.  We have all lost plants for all sorts of reasons so it's really good to have many backups (plant insurance).  Third, it helps us learn about our plants faster.  The members of the ESSC all live in somewhat different climates, and have thumbs that are different shades of green, and employ different growing techniques.  It is very informative and useful to see how the same plant performs in a wide range of conditions.  Lastly, we should regularly introduce each other to awesome plants.  

Camellia edithae

It's fuzzy!  At first glance I guessed that it was an epiphytic blueberry.  But I was wrong.  I'm generally not so interested in Camellias, although they might be a good host for some orchids.  In the case of this Camellia though I might be happy to have one.  

Tillandsia flabellata rubra

Hummingbirds love reddish Tillandsias and so do I!

Tillandsia Hybrid

I want this!  Even if it's monocarpic?  Well... I hate monocarpic plants.  But there might be one or two exceptions to this rule.  Due to illegible writing I'm not exactly sure about the name of this Tillandsia.  It's a hybrid and its name starts with a B.  

Lemmaphyllum microphyllum

This isn't the best picture of this enchanting and endearing little epiphytic fern from Japan.  As you can see, it's very happily growing in a terrarium.  The fern was put in there by the terrarium genius Don DeLano.  He's very knowledgeable about plants and he gives great talks at society meetings.  At the show I asked him if he's ever tried growing this fern outside.  He said that he had but it got killed when the temps dropped below freezing.  Given that it's from Japan I was somewhat surprised.  Turns out that he was growing it in a pot.  My guess is that, here in Southern California where it rains during the winter, epiphytic plants handle the winter cold better when they are mounted, because of the excellent drainage.   In my Cedar Tree Epiphytes blog entry I shared this photo of L. microphyllum growing over two stories high on my tree... 

Lemmaphyllum microphyllum

It's mounted on several very healthy handfuls of New Zealand Sphagnum moss.  When I mounted it I also included a few other plants such as a cutting of Columnea Elmer Lorenz.  The fern has done really well but, unlike Microgramma vacciniifolia, it doesn't seem to be able to "escape" its moss island/prison.  Even though L. microphyllum isn't an escape artist it is definitely one of my very favorite ferns.  Here's another favorite... 

Niphidium crassifolium

This epiphytic fern has very long fronds and does quite well outside here in SoCal.  Perhaps through no fault of its own I didn't manage to get it established on my Cedar tree, but I do have it growing on a tree fern and on a Pygmy Date Palm.  Microsorum punctatum is another strap-leaved epiphytic fern with somewhat shorter fronds which might be more drought tolerant.  I do have it growing on my Cedar tree.  

At the show I met ESSC member Gumbii for the first time.  He has a Youtube channel about plants.  While we, along with Scadoxus, were looking at the entries I mentioned that we really should do a video of them.  From my perspective even a quick video would be better than nothing.  Perhaps we could just highlight our 10 favorite plants in the show.  Or, I joked, we could criticize the 10 worst plants in the show.  Scadoxus chimed in that at one bromeliad society meeting some guy very badly criticized a plant that a member had brought in for others to appreciate.  When the critic asked whose plant it was, the owner didn't even want to admit that it was their plant.  Yikes!  

After the show Scadoxus and I drove to Fernando's garden in West Covina.  While on the way there I was telling her about how I had learned of some new terms for an idea that I've discussed with her many times before.  The idea, and one of its terms, is voting with donations.  I explained that this is most commonly associated with using donations to decide who will have to kiss a pig, or get pied in the face, or get dunked into a tank of water.  Sometimes zoos use this method to name an animal.  That's when Scadoxus said something like, "Oh yeah, San Diego Zoo does that.  Around 15 years ago I was there with my niece and we made a donation to help name a panda."  I responded, "What in the world?  Seriously?  We've been talking about this idea for so many years (maybe like two) and you're only now just sharing this information with me?!"  "You didn't ask me about it," she replied, "...better late than never."  Ugh.  

When we got to Fernando's place I started to carefully inspect his very impressive collection.  From the corner of my eye I spotted a small flash of color.  I looked more closely and saw what appeared to be a Pelargonium flower just randomly floating in mid-air...

Pelargonium tetragonum?

It was a nearly leafless pendulous Pelargonium that was growing epiphytically!  What?!  Have you heard of such a plant?  I sure hadn't.  So I asked Fernando about it and he said that he's had it for around a decade.  What?!  How come he hadn't introduced me to this plant?  Ugh.  

We've all failed, albeit unequally so, to introduce each other to awesome plants.  I personally feel like I've failed to introduce enough people to the epiphytic fern Aglamorpha coronans.  Here's my attempt to try and solve this problem...

It's so very neat that Aglamorpha coronans has wrapped itself nearly all the way around Fernando's palm tree!  The video really doesn't do this fern justice, but I hope that it's better than nothing.

There's actually another Aglamorpha species that's even more impressive than coronans... Aglaomorpha heraclea.  It has really huge fronds.  I tried to grow it once but it wasn't a fan of our winter.  While talking to Darla Harris, the president of the Texas Gulf Coast Fern Society, I mentioned that it would be really awesome if heraclea was crossed with coronans.  When the president of the Tree Fern Society, Dan Yansura, joined the conversation, I brought up a few other crosses that should be attempted...

Davallia canariensis x Davallia fejeensis
Nephrolepis pendula x Nephrolepis cordifolia

Not sure how compatible these species are, but ferns are relatively easy to grow from spore.  I've personally had good success simply sowing the spore directly on wet floral foam that's in a pot in a zip lock bag.  Darla hadn't heard of this method before.  Hopefully she'll give it a try.

Fernando had the largest Sinningia that I had ever personally seen... 

Please remind me to remind Scadoxus to remind Fernando to harvest the seeds.  The same goes for his Begonia thiemei.

Hopefully we should all agree that we need to do the best possible job of introducing each other to awesome plants.  Right now I'm thinking that this vital task can be most efficiently and effectively accomplished by using donation voting (DV).  Fortunately for us, there are already websites that can facilitate this.  For example...

Organizations, like a local humane society, can create a contest for participants to submit and sort photos...

Those photos are sorted by DV ($1 donation = 1 vote).  Here are a couple other similar websites...

Members of various plant societies and forums could submit photos of their favorite plants and we could use DV to rank/sort/order/prioritize them.  Naturally in this case it wouldn't be possible to use our donations to criticize the worst plants.  Instead, we'd use our donations to help highlight the very best plants.  All the money raised would be spent to help promote the results.  We would essentially be pooling our money to introduce the most people to the most awesome plants in the least amount of time.