A beauty of its own: Gastrophaius Cooksoniae

Gastrophaius Cooksoniae 3

This blog entry shall allow you to just enjoy the beauty of this Gastrophaius Hybrid.

Gastrophaius Cooksoniae 2

Do you like it?

Gastrophaius Cooksoniae 1

Tainia penangiana, a member of the tribe Collabieae

Tainia penangiana by Eike Jauch

Within the subfamily Epidendroideae there are several tribes, one of which is Collabieae. The tribe Collabieae consists of 19 genera, amongst them Tainia, but also Phaius, Gastrorchis and Calanthe. This is the reason why I include the genus Tainia in this blog.

Within Tainia, there are about 30 species known, only a few of which are frequently in culture. Among them are Tainia penangiana Hook. f. 1890 and Tainia hookeriana King & Pantl. 1895. These two are often considerd to be conspecific.

They are cultivated like Preptanthe: As long as they show active growth they like substrate that does not fall dry and they need plenty fertilizer. When they enter their rest period, they drop their leaves and should be kept rather dry. Direct sunlight should be avoided.


Calanthe Hildegard Kibler-Mueller

Calanthe Hildegard Kibler-Müller Sunshine

Calanthe Hildegard Kibler-Müller 1

The combination of Calanthe succedanea and Calanthe vestita results in a really beautyful hybrid: Calanthe Hildegard Kibler-Mueller. Here are the parental plants used for this hybridisation:

Calanthe succedanea by Eike Jauch

Calanthe vestita by Eike Jauch

I was surprised how well these two Preptanthe harmonize when they are combined. Especially the intense colouration is a good argument to fall in love with Calanthe Hildegard Kibler-Mueller! The lip definitely profits from the parental Calanthe succedanea. We have isolated one clone that we named Calanthe HiIdegard Kibler-Mueller ‘Sunshie’. Its flowers are nearly round in shape and have the size of a 1 Euro coin. It is shown in the first picture. I registered this hybrid some time ago:

Hildegard Kibler-Mueller by Eike JAuch

There is only one more registered Calanthe succedanea hybrid: Calanthe Petit Anquette. It was registered in 2015 by the Eric Young Orchid Foundation. The other parental plant used in this hybrid is Calanthe Rose Georgene.

The second Gastrophaiante: Gastrophaiante Gert-Jan Hoogendorn

Gert-Jan Hoogendorn Cert

Dear Gert-Jan, this is my way to say “Thank you” ! Thank you for a lot of insights I would not have obtained without you. And for some of the most beautyful Phaius and Calanthe that we shared. We had a nice talk about white flowering orchids, and I hope one of the Gastrophaiante Gert-Jan Hoogendorn will help you to get such a beauty.

Gastrocalanthe December Sun was the seed parent, Phaius tankervilleae var. alba the pollen parent in this cross.

Calanthe triplicata Gastrorchis pulchra alba

Above shown plant is Gastrocalanthe December Sun, which was RHS registered in December 2019.

The plant shown below is Phaius tankervilleae var. alba, a well known variety of Phaius tankervilleae that now should be called Phaius tankervilleae var. bernaysii according to Judi Stone and Phillip Cribbs “Lady Tankerville’s legacy”.

Phaius tankervilleae f alba 2 by Eike Jauch


Two years of Phaius blog: The first Phaius in cultivation

Two years ago I launched this blog that mainly deals with orchids of the genera Phaius, Gastrorchis and Calanthe. Today, I would like to look hundreds of years back to shed light on the origin of the first Phaius taken in cultivation: Phaius tankervillea (Banks) Blume.

Phaius Phajus tankervilleae 2 by Eike Jauch

In 1901, H. J. Chapman published an artice in “The Gardeners’ Chronicle, January 5, p 12 under the title “Orchids one-hundred years ago”. This article mentions the first Phaius cultivated and places it in the context of other early orchids taken in cultivation.

“There is no branch of horticulture that has made more progress than the cultivation of orchids. The limited means of transit from foreign parts, combined with unsuitable glasshouses and heating for their cultivation, prevented the introduction of the plants; and the lack of knowledge among gardeners led to the destruction of the few species that were introduced previously to the year 1801. It may be of interest to readers, who have not access to early horticultural and botanical works, to place on record a few of the facts as to the then means of cultivation of the few species that had been introduced to our gardens up to that date.

In the Gardeners’ Chronicle, March 19, 1887, p. 381, Mr. W. B. Hemsley writes:

A dried specimen of Bletia verecunda [Bletia purpurea] was sent to Peter Collinson in 1731, from Providence Island [must be New Providence], one of the Bahamas; but the tuber appearing to have life in it, he sent it to the garden of a gentleman named Wager, where it was placed in a hot bed and grew and flowered in the following summer. This was probably the first tropical orchid cultivated in England.

One of the best of the American hardy Cypripediums, Cypripedium spectabile [Cypripedium reginae], according to Hortus Kewensis, was in cultivation previously to 1731. According to the same work Vanilla aromatica [Vanilla planifolia] was next introduced in 1739. In 1759 Cypripedium parviflorum was introduced. In the year 1768, Miller’s Dictionary of Gardening, 2nd edition, appeared, wherein several species of Epidendrum were enumerated, some of which may possibly have been known to him under cultivation, for he states “The plants cannot by any art yet known, be cultivated in the ground; though could they be brought to thrive, many of them produce very fine flowers of uncommon form.”

Messrs. J. Veitch in their Manual of Orchidaceous Plants, pl. 10, page 109, record that Dr. John Fothergill brought home from China in 1778, for the first time, Phaius grandifolius Lour 1790 [Phaius tankervilleae] and Cymbidium ensifolium. The first named flowered shortly afterwards in the stove of his niece, Mrs. Hird, at Apperley Bridge, Yorkshire. [Philipp Cribb writes in Lady Tankerville’s Legacy that it was Pehr Osbeck (1723-1805), a Swedish chaplain and plant hunter for the Dutch East India Comoany, who brought the  Phaius from China to Europe].

These records show that Phaius tankervilleae was one of the very early tropical orchids that reached Europe and survived.

Phaius tankervilleae


In 1816-1817, volume 44 (plates no.1860-1941), the story about Phaius tankervilleae was reported in more datail in Curtis’s Botanical Magazine:

Bletia Tankervilliae R. Brown 1813 . Lady Tankerville’s Bletia.

This very beautiful plant, a great ornament to our stoves, was introduced from China, by our much respected friend, the late Dr. John Fothergill, about the year 1778.

The scape grows quite erect, sometimes three feet [about 90 cm] high, and the spike of flowers will extend to two feet [about 60 cm]. The singular chesnut-brown colour of the inside of the petals, contrasted with the perfect white of their outsides, and the fine white nectarium shaded and streaked with crimson, give the flower a striking and beautiful appearance. The specific name was, we believe, first published by M. L’Heritier, in his Sertum Anglicum [1788], from an engraving in Sir Joseph Banks’s Museum, bearing this denomination, and probably the same that was given to the public the following year, in Aiton’s Hortus Kewensis. It was proposed in honour of Lady Tankerville, an encourager of Botany.  [..] It is by no means a tender plant, and should be allowed a good deal of air, but will not flower well out of the stove. Propagated by separating its bulbs, by which it multiplies pretty fast. Flowers in March and April. Communicated by John Walker, Esq. of Arno’s-Grove.


Phaius tankervilleae: A long way from pollination to fertilization

Phaius Phajus tankervilleae 2 by Eike Jauch

In the Journal of the Horticultural Society of London, new ser. v.21 (1897-1898) Mr. C. C. Hurst gave on page  448 an interesting detail about the time span from pollination to fertilization in Phaius tankervilleae. In his article “Curiosities of orchid breeding” he wrote:

“So far back as 1863 Dr. Hildebrandt made observations in the Botanic Gardens at Bonn on the processes of fertilisation in orchids, somewhat similar to Mr. Veitch, but in different genera. (Mohl and Schlectendal, Botanische Zeitung, 1863, Nos. 44 and 45). Dr. Hildebrandt found that the period between pollination and fertilisation varied considerably in different orchids : the period in Dendrobium nobile he found to be about 120 days, Phaius grandifolius [Phaius tankervilleae] sixty days, Cypripedium insigne 120 days, while in hardy terrestrial Orchids, Listera ovata, Neottia nidus-avis, and Orchis pyramidalis the period was but eight to nine days, and Gymnadenia conopsea, Orchis morio, and 0. maculata about fourteen days.

The same article describes in detail the processes that can be oserved during the time span between pollination and fertilization:

Pollination and Fertilisation.

Having ascertained the ordinary results of the hybridisation of two distinct species, it will perhaps clear the way still further if we briefly follow out the inner details of pollination and fertilisation, having special regard to recent researches and observations. So far as I know, the most recent work that has been done in orchids, in regard to the processes of fertilisation, was carried out by Mr. Harry Veitch, F.L.S., 1885-87, the results of which were published in the Journal of the Linncan Society, vol. xxiv. No. 163, p. 395 (also in Veitch’s ” Manual of Orchids,” Part X. p. 83) ; and I am much indebted to Mr. Veitch for his invaluable observations. Mr. Veitch followed out the inner processes from pollination to fertilisation in Cattleya Mossise pollinated with its own pollen. The pollen masses were applied in the usual way. Two days afterwards the flower faded and the pollen masses began to break up into groups of grains and became thoroughly mixed up with the sticky fluid of the stigma, and from some of the grains short tubes were already pushed out. After six days the pollen tubes had largely increased in numbers, and the longest had reached the base of the column, having worked their way down the duct leading through the middle of the column from the stigma to the seedchamber or ovary. During this time a wonderful change had taken place in the ovary, or seed-pod. Before pollination it was circular in shape ; fourteen days later it was triangular and swollen ; and at the end of thirty days its walls were still more swollen, and the ovules, the future seeds, were gradually developing into shape and form, though there were as yet no signs of fertilisation. At the end of thirty days the pollen tubes had entered the ovary, and were pushing down along its walls by the side of the placentas which bore the ovules. After fifty-five days the pollen tubes had reached the bottom of the ovary, and were all among the ovules in countless numbers, but no signs of fertilisation could be traced. Seventy-five days after pollination Mr. Veitch found the tips of the pollen tubes in contact with the opening leading into the ovule (micropyle), and at this time actual fertilisation began to take place, changing the ovules into seeds.”