While these changes will take some getting used to, this will stabilize hybrid names in the long run. The most visible of the ensuing name changes will be the sinking of the vast majority of Laeliocattleya, Sophrocattleya, and Sophrolaeliocattleya into Cattleya.




Additional Information



Laelia rubescens Left: Once a Laelia, always a Laelia? Only if it comes from Mexico. Laelia rubescens remains in the genus.

Sophronitis to Cattleya Transfers

In 2000 the first DNA study of the Laeliinae was reported in Lindleyana. One of the results of that study was the realization that the Brazilian laelias did not belong with the Mexican group of species that included the type for that genus (Laelia anceps). The initial solution was to place them in Sophronitis although other authors proposed to split these species into several segregate genera. With the publication of Genera Orchidacearum Vol 4 in 2006 and the acceptance of the circumscriptions therein, a plethora of name changes took place in artificial hybrid names in this alliance. While many familiar names changed, the situation would have been significantly worse had this group of species been carved into a number of smaller genera.

Recent DNA studies with nine plastid regions plus the original ITS dataset have lead to a better understanding of this group. While this expanded Sophronitis is always supported, it is also imbedded among species traditionally recognized as Cattleya presenting the need to further alter the definitions of the genera that make up the alliance. There are effectively two solutions; creation of new genera for the various subgroups of Cattleya or lump all Sophronitis species with Cattleya and deal with these groupings as subgenera or sections of a greatly expanded Cattleya. This latter solution provides better nomenclatural stability for artificial hybrids of species in this alliance since changes would not result in transfers to new genera.

 

Right: The cute little Laelia liliputana (aka Hoffmannseggella, Sophronits) will soon be known as Cattleya liliputana.

At the World Orchid Conference in January 2008, International Orchid Committee met to discuss the situation and, with input from the RHS Advisory Panel on Orchid Hybrid Registration (APOHR), the authors of the additional studies, the Orchid Hybrid Registrar (the Registrar), the AOS and editors of Genera Orchidacearum agreed that sinking Sophronitis into Cattleya would be a better approach over the long term.

Where are we? The first step in the process was the publication of a scientific paper transferring these species comprising the expanded Sophronitis into Cattleya. That was done in March of 2008 in Biodiversity. Those that don't appear in this paper are those that, at one time or another, were already transferred by other authors. Sophronitis (Laelia) tenebrosa is an example. The second step, transfer of the natural hybrids has also now been done as well.

In a few months Genera Orchidacearum Vol. 5 will be published and will contain an addendum accepting these changes and the World Checklist of Monocotyledons will then be updated to reflect the changes. The Registrar has prepared the transfer of those species that appear in the hybrid registration database as well as the changes to intergeneric names that will result.

While these changes will take some getting used to, this will stabilize hybrid names in the long run. The most visible of the ensuing name changes will be the sinking of the vast majority of Laeliocattleya, Sophrocattleya, and Sophrolaeliocattleya into Cattleya. This and the transfer of most of the existing Brassocattleya, Brassolaelia, Brassolaeliocattleya and Rhynchosophrocattleya hybrids to Rhyncholaeliocattleya (Rhyncholaelia x Cattleya) will involve some 75-80% or more of the hybrid name changes. There will be some Laeliocattleya that remain so along with some Brassocattleya and Brassolaelia that will remain unchanged or become Brassocattleya; those with one of the Mexican Laelia species like L. anceps or L. autumnalis or a true Brassavola like B. nodosa in the background respectively, but these will definitely be in the minority. An example of one of the former is Bc. Katherine H. Chatham (B. nodosa x C. labiata) which will remain unchanged and an example of the latter is Bl. Richard Mueller which will become Bc. Richard Mueller (B. nodosa x C. flava) It is our understanding that the Registrar expects the database to be updated by the end of March.

Further Reading:

 

Ron McHatton – AOS Director of Education
March, 2009