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The Bifoliate Cattleyas

The following article first appeared in the February 1956 (Vol. 25, No. 2, page 159) American Orchid Society BULLETIN as part of a multi-part Beginners' Handbook. It has been edited here to reflect current taxonomic nomenclature and synonymy. At the time of the original publication, the Brazilian laelias and Sophronitis were considered distinct from Cattleya. They have been now reclassified and the Central American bifoliate cattleyas moved to Guarianthe. Those Cattleya species that flower from specially modified reproductive growths (appear to be basal inflorescences) are not, strictly speaking, bifoliate cattleyas but they were included here by the author. The article has been left intact but the Central American species and Prosthechea citrina (Cattleya citrina) have been moved to the end of the article.

In the Beginners' Handbook for March, 1956, we discussed the genus Cattleya and its allies, devoting the balance of the article to one section of the genus, the unifoliate or one-leaved Cattleyas. As we noted in that installment, that group of Cattleyas is predominant in horticultural interest, with species and hybrids of the labiate section constituting the major commercial cut-orchid crop as well as the most popular plant among amateur orchid growers. However, the labiate section is surpassed in number of botanically distinct species by the remaining portion of the genus which is considered, for convenience, as the bifoliate or two-leaved group of Cattleyas.

Except for a half dozen species found in Mexico and Central America, all the bifoliate Cattleyas are natives of Brazil with an extension of range, in the case of several species, into neighboring countries, for orchids do not respect national boundaries but geographical limits. In Brazil, the species have fairly well-defined and restricted limits, the overall distribution being roughly similar to the unifoliate species and to the Laelias. While a few are found at comparatively low altitudes, and hence require a slightly warmer culture, the majority of species are from the mountain areas and demand the same treatment as the labiate Cattleyas. The interpenetration of ranges has resulted in the formation of a number of natural hybrids, not only between two bifoliate species but also between bifoliate and unifoliate Cattleyas. A few supposed natural hybrids between bifoliate Cattleyas and species of Laelia are also known.

List of species: as is true of most of the horticulturally valuable orchids, the bifoliate Cattleyas constitute a complex, variable and difficult group which defies sharp delineation among the many component species. Due to the large number of imports which gave rise to many errors in identification and a multitude of names, a sound taxonomic treatment of the section cannot be presented with as much authority as desired. Certain important species, such as Cattleya guttata, Cattleya intermedia, Cattleya loddigesii and their varieties are still much confused, particularly in respect to some of their less typical forms. There is no popular treatment of this group of Cattleyas to be found in literature. Botanically, the most authoritative study is Alfred Cogniaux's work on the orchids in Martins' FLORA BRASILIENSIS, published 1893-1906. Descriptions and text are in Latin, and some of the concepts should be revaluated in the light of more recent knowledge. Nevertheless, this presentation is extremely useful and is the basis, with slight modification, of the following groupings.

I. Lateral lobes of lip small or sometimes absent; column exposed or enveloped by the lateral lobes to a certain degree at the base of the lip.

A. Inflorescence basal.

Cattleya walkeriana, C. nobilior

B. Inflorescence terminal.

Cattleya aclandiae,  C.  x dolosa,  C.  bicolor,  C. velutina

II.   Lateral lobes of lip large, enveloping the column entirely or for the greater part.

A. Midlobe of lip somewhat larger, more or less long and clawed.

Cattleya granulosa, C. porphyroglossa, C. schofieldiana, C. x brasiliensis, C. guttata, C. x patrocinii, C. tigrina, C. amethystoglossa, C. elongata, C. x victoriae-reginae, C. schilleriana, C. x Whitei.

B. Midlobe of lip small, sessile or subsessile.

Cattleya violacea, C. x brymeriana, C. loddigesii, C. harrisoniana, C. intermedia, C. forbesii, C. x isabella, C. dormaniana.

C. Midlobe of lip large, more or less continuous with lateral lobes. - All reclassified in other genera

Prosthechea citrina, Guarianthe aurantiaca, Gur. x guatemalensis, Gur. skinneri, Gur. bowringiana.

This listing does not completely exhaust the possible number of species nor does it include all the known or suspected natural hybrids. Many published concepts are based on a single collection or on obscure characters, and the minute detail necessary for monographic treatment would be out of place here, even were the required research accomplished, which it is not. These groupings do establish relationships fairly well, however, with the exception of Prosthechea citrina which is included with Guarianthe aurantiaca and the Gur. skinneri alliance only as a matter of convenience.



C. aclandiae 'KG's Spotted Tiger' HCC/AOS
C. aclandiae 'KG's Spotted Tiger' HCC/AOS;
Grower: Kathy Figiel, Photo© Greg Allikas

Cattleya aclandiae: Brazil. Introduced in 1839 by Lady Akland, of Killerton, near Exeter, it was named for her by Dr. Lindley when he first described the species in the BOTANICAL REGISTER, in 1840. This is one of the smallest in habit among the Cattleyas, the slender, cylindrical, furrowed stems being from three to five inches long, the two leaves each from two to three inches in length. A short peduncle bears one or two flowers from three to four inches across. Petals and sepals are similar, fleshy, yellowish green transversely blotched and spotted with blackish purple. The rather fiddle-shaped lip is three-lobed, the lateral lobes small and curved toward the column, white tinged with rose, the midlobe broadly kidney-shaped, wavy, bright rose-purple veined with deep purple. The exposed column is short, thickened with wing-like margins, a deep amethyst-purple. Found growing near sea level on small isolated trees in the arid lands near the coast of the province of Bahia, over which a sea breeze blows constantly, it is a warm growing species demanding great light. It requires little compost but should be heavily watered during its growing season. Frequently it produces new growths and flowers twice a year, in May and June, its normal season, and again in the fall. Not common in cultivation, it is a delightful dwarf species with bold flowers, but it is does have a reputation as being difficult to grow.

C. amethystoglossa 'Crownfox III', AM/AOS;
Grower: RF Orchids, photo: Greg Allikas

Cattleya amethystoglossa: Brazil. This species first appeared in the collection of Herr Reichenheim at Berlin and was described in 1856 in BONPLANDIA by Reichenbach as Cattleya guttata var. prinzii, named to honor Herr Print who had sent the plant from Brazil. It appeared in England in the collection of Mr. F. Coventry, of Shirley, whose solitary plant went to Mr. Warner in 1860. Figured in Warner's SELECT ORCHIDACEOUS PLANTS as Cattleya amethystoglossa. It has since been imported in large quantities from its native home in the province of Bahia. The stems are cylindrical, two to three or more feet high, bearing two leaves from four to eight inches long. Flowers are about three to four inches across, fleshy, in an upright cluster containing five to twenty flowers. Petals are similar to sepals but somewhat broader, petals and sepals bright rose spotted with amethyst-purple, especially toward the margins. Lip is three-lobed, the lateral lobes folding over the column, the middle lobe spreading, notched in the front margin, deep amethyst-purple. An intermediate to warm species, very variable in habit and floral coloring, it flowers anywhere from early spring to midsummer.




C. bicolor 'Tyrone', HCC/AOS; Grower:
Charles Fouquette, photo: Loren Batchman


Cattleya bicolor: Brazil. Introduced by Messrs. Loddiges in 1836, it was described in the BOTANICAL REGISTER by Lindley in 1836. The slender stems are from eighteen to thirty inches high, jointed and covered with whitish membranaceous sheaths, bearing two leaves about six inches long. The inflorescence is nearly erect, with two to five or more flowers. Flowers range from three to four inches across. The sepals and petals are fleshy, with a distinct midnerve, greenish brown to olive-brown spotted with purple, the petals somewhat wavy, the lateral sepals bowed inward. The lip is wedge-shaped, without side lobes, curved downward with a central longitudinal depression or line, crimson-purple, occasionally margined with white. This species is unique in lacking the lateral lobes of the lip, a character usually inherited by its hybrid progeny, limiting its value in breeding. Variable in coloring, particularly with respect to the lip, this species is suited to intermediate conditions, blooms during spring and into midsummer, occasionally blooming twice, about March and again in September.

Cattleya x brasiliensis: Brazil. An obscure natural hybrid presumed to be Cattleya bicolor x Cattleya harrisoniana.

Cattleya x brymeriana: Brazil. A natural hybrid between Cattleya violacea and Cattleya wallisii (eldorado), it was introduced by Messrs. Low and Co. and described in the GARDENERS' CHRONICLE for 1883 by Reichenbach who dedicated it to Mr. W. E. Brymer, an ardent amateur orchid grower. Habit intermediate between the two parent species, with medium-sized showy flowers, rosy purple shaded with white, the lip deep purple with an orange-yellow throat. Rarely seen in cultivation, it blooms in summer.

C. x dolosa 'Michael', AM/AOS; Grower:
William Rogerson, photo: Rhonda Peters

Cattleya x dolosa: Brazil. The origin of this species is somewhat obscure, having first appeared in cultivation in 1872 in the collection of Mr. John Day who obtained it as a Cattleya or Laelia from Minas Gerais. At first considered a variety of Cattleya walkeriana, which it resembles closely. Considered by some to be a distinct species, most present-day authorities accept it as a natural hybrid between Cattleya walkeriana and Cattleya harrisoniana. Of dwarf habit, the pseudobulbs are two to four inches high, stout, bearing one to four large, fleshy flowers about four inches across. Unlike Cattleya walkeriana, it flowers from the base of the leaves at the apex of the pseudobulb. The flowers are rose-magenta, the petals broader than the sepals, the lip bly three-lobed with the side lobes overlapping the column for half their length, the midlobe spreading, deep amethyst-purple with a pale yellow disk. Rare in its native habitat, it is not commonly found in cultivation. It blooms in the fall.




C. dormaniana 'Renee', AM/AOS; Grower:
Robert J. Ferry

Cattleya dormaniana: Brazil. This species brings to the forefront the artificial distinction between Brazilian laelias and cattleyas.  The distinction is based on the number of pollinia; four for cattleyas and eight for laelias.  This species produce two or four extra rudimentary pollinia in addition to the four normally found in plants of this genus. Is this then a Laelia, a Cattleya or an intergeneric natural hybrid?  It is today accepted as a Cattleya and the underdeveloped pollinia have some evolutionary significance related to the origin of the species. Regardless of the genus, the 3 inch flowers, produced usually one or two per inflorescence (occasionally up to 4) are dramatic. The species, discovered in 1879, comes from the humid, cloud-shrouded Organ Mountains in Rio de Janeiro State, Brazil. While the thin pseudobulbs do not tolerate dehydration, the species does need a definite period of dormancy. Flowering occurs in the fall.  While known for some 130 years, C. dormaniana remains relatively rare in contemporary collections.  It is a small species that takes up little room and for those able to provide for its requirements, a dramatic addition to anyone's cattleya collection.


Cattleya elongata: Brazil. Another rare species not seen in cultivation at the present time, it was described by Barbarossa Rodrigues, a Brazilian botanist, in his GENERA ET SPECIES ORCHIDEARUM NOVARUM (1877), one of the first works on the orchids of Brazil. Subsequently introduced into cultivation in England as Cattleya alexandrae, it remained a rarity and is little known.

C. forbesii 'Orquifollajes', AM/AOS; Grower:
Francisco Villegas, photo: Greg Allikas


Cattleya forbesii: Brazil. Introduced in 1823 by the Horticultural Society of London, through their collector Mr. Forbes, it was described by Lindley in his COLLECTANEA BOTANICA, dedicated to its collector. The cylindrical stems are about a foot high, the inflorescence erect and bearing from two to five flowers, each about three to four inches across. The sepals and petals are similar, nearly equal, pale yellow-green to yellow. The lip is three-lobed, the lateral lobes angular and rolled around the column, pale yellow on the outside, bright yellow within; the midlobe is small, rounded with a toothed margin, pale yellow with bright yellow central band, the throat lined and spotted with red-purple. Not as showy as many other species, this Cattleya has never been grown in quantity even though it is one of the first of the genus to appear in cultivation. It is an attractive plant, however, and rather easily grown, so it is found occasionally in the collections of hobbyists whose interests tend toward the less common orchids. It blooms in spring and summer.




C. granulosa 'Claire', HCC/AOS; Grower:
William Rogerson, photo: Rhonda Peters

Cattleya granulosa: Brazil. Discovered in 1840 by Hartweg who sent a single plant of it to the Horticultural Society of London, its habitat was reported as Guatemala. Subsequently Mr. Skinner sent specimens reputedly from Guatemala. Nevertheless, it is extremely doubtful that such plants actually were found wild in Guatemala and it is possible that either the plants were found in cultivation or the actual source was deliberately concealed to prevent other commercial collectors from locating it (a practice not infrequently indulged in, although condemned by those who respected the search for scientific knowledge). The species was described by Lindley in the BOTANICAL REGISTER FOR 1842. The jointed, somewhat flattened stems are from twelve to twenty inches tall, bearing two leaves six inches long. The flower stem is stout, erect, with from five to eight flowers, each about three to four inches across. The sepals and petals are yellowish olive-green, with scattered spots of red, the sepals oblong and obtuse, the lateral sepals bowed inward. The petals are a little broader than the sepals, with the margin slightly waved. The lip is three-lobed, the lateral lobes erect, whitish outside and yellow inside, the middle lobe clawed with a fimbriate kidney-shaped blade, the claw yellow, the blade white, covered with numerous crimson-purple granulations. Of intermediate culture, it flowers in the late summer and autumn.

C. schofieldiana 'Redoubtable', AM/AOS;
Grower: Bill Heckeroth

Cattleya schofieldiana: Brazil. Once considered a variety of granulosa and first described as such, this taxon is now accepted by modern-day authorities as distinct. The flowers are larger and more spotted than those of granulosa, to about 4 inches in diameter. According to Withner, the petals are distinguished by their larger size, their dilated and rounded apices and their characteristically downwardly curved shape. The plants are epiphytic on trees growing on rocky slopes or cliff faces and prefer abundant light and air movement. According to Fowlie, it prefers moss or lichen covered sloping trunks where the roots may extend for 2 feet or more. It has no pronounced rest or dormancy period and flowering occurs in the fall.



C. guttata 'Brecko Leopard', CCM/AOS;
Grower: J. & M. Kepley, photo: James Harris

Cattleya guttata: Brazil. A variable species, the typical form was sent to the Horticultural Society of London from Rio de Janeiro around 1827 by the Right Hon. Robert Gordon, the type description by Lindley appearing in the BOTANICAL REGISTER in 1831. A large, robust species with cylindrical stems from twenty to thirty or more inches tall, topped by two spreading, very coriaceous leaves from six to nine inches long. The upright flower stem arises from a short, flattened sheath and bears five or more (in the typical form) fleshy flowers each three to four inches across. The sepals and petals are similar, the petals being broader, waved at the margin and more rounded at the apex, yellowish green spotted with deep purple. The lip is three-lobed, the lateral lobes acute and folded over the column, whitish outside, the middle lobe spreading, the front margin notched, amethyst-purple in color and traversed by lines of papillae or granulations. This fine bifoliate Cattleya is of easy culture and quite commonly cultivated by hobbyists. There are numerous forms and varieties, some of which have been treated as species. Variety leopoldii (now recognized as distinct - Cattleya tigrina) has smaller but many more flowers, up to twenty in fine specimens, the flowers being brown to green. The so-called variety prinzii is more correctly known as Cattleya amethystoglossa and was treated under that name above. The color of the flowers of the species varies considerably, some of the deeper colored forms being real gems. It has possibilities in developing heavy-textured smaller flowers of more somber colors when combined with some of the labiate Cattleyas, providing a cut flower in competition with Cymbidiums. Requires warm to intermediate conditions, with b light and plenty of water during growth but likes a decided rest after flowering in the fall.

C. harrisoniana 'Silva Jardin', HCC/AOS;
Grower: Truford Orchids

Cattleya harrisoniana: Brazil. Introduced in 1836 by Mr. Harrison of Liverpool, it was described by Lindley in the BOTANICAL REGISTER for the same year. Sometimes considered to be a variety of Cattleya loddigesii, it is quite distinct in possessing prominent corrugations on the disk of the lip, a feature not found in Cattleya loddigesii, and subsequent misidentifications have resulted in much confusion. Similar to Cattleya loddigesii in habit, the stems are longer and more slender (as a rule). The flowers are darker than in Cattleya loddigesii, from deep lilac to rose-purple, the sepals and petals not quite as broad, the lip larger, the lateral lobes rolled outward, and the middle lobe larger, spreading and crisped with a deep notch in the middle. The margins of the lateral lobes are yellow, and most of the middle lobe is deep yellow, shading toward purple at the notch, the orange-yellow disk thickened into three to five longitudinal corrugations emerging from the yellow throat. Numerous forms, including a white variety are known. A beautiful flower that can be highly recommended to the hobbyist, it blooms in summer.




C. intermedia 'Aranbeem', AM/AOS; Grower:
RF Orchids, photo: Greg Allikas

Cattleya intermedia: Brazil. Brought by Captain Graham of the Royal Packet Service from Rio de Janeiro in 1824, it bloomed in the Botanic Garden at Glasgow in 1826 and was described by Hooker in the BOTANICAL MAGAZINE for 1828. Coming from a wide area of southern Brazil, it varies to a great degree and the exact circumscription of the species is not possible. It has very slender, jointed stems up to eighteen inches high, with two leaves five to six inches long. Flower stems are stout, three to five or more flowers, each flower four to five inches across. Sepals and petals are narrow, the dorsal sepal strap-shaped, the lateral sepals and petals curved downward, pale rose to milk white, occasionally dotted with amethyst-purple. Lip is trilobed, the side lobes rounded with smooth margins, overlapping around the column, the middle lobe amethyst-purple, spreading, with crisped and eroded margin. A favorite Cattleya of the bifoliate group, by virtue of its delicate coloring and bright lip. It flowers in late spring and early summer.

Cattleya x isabella: Brazil. Described by Reichenbach in 1859. It is presumed to be a hybrid between Cattleya forbesii and Cattleya intermedia. Rare in cultivation and little known.


C. tigrina 'SanBar Giant', FCC/AOS; Grower:
SBOE, photo: Lawrence Vierhelig

Cattleya tigrina (leopoldii): Brazil. This is the oldest name for what has long been known as Cattleya guttata var. leopoldii. A native of southern Brazil, found growing with Cattleya (Laelia) purpurata and C. intermedia in Santa Catarina and in other areas with C. guttata or C. loddigesii, the plants are large, reaching as much as 4 feet tall and can produce 20 to even 30 flowers per inflorescence. While considered bifoliate, the pseudobulbs usually produce three leaves. The characteristic that most readily separates this species from C. guttata is its habit of flowering from green sheaths as opposed to dried sheaths in C. guttata. The plants grow in coastal forests below 300 feet in areas with significant day/night temperature differential. The climate is seasonal with high humidity and rainfall followed by an extended dry period. Flowering usually occurs from mid- to late-summer.


C. loddigesii  'Mai Short Sweetheart', FCC/
AOS; Grower: B. Andrus, photo: L. Livingston

Cattleya loddigesii: Brazil. Introduced into England from Rio de Janeiro by Messrs. Loddiges, of Hackney, under the name of Epidendrum violaceum early in the nineteenth century, it was placed into the new genus, Cattleya, under the name Cattleya loddigesii, by Lindley when he established the new genus in 1824. The cylindrical stems are about a foot high, with leaves from four to five inches long. Flower stem bears from two to five flowers up to four and a half inches across. Petals and sepals similar and nearly equal, the lateral sepals somewhat bowed, the petals slightly broader and waved along the margins, delicate rose-lilac. Lip is trilobed, the lateral lobes almost rectangular, erect, the front edge toothed, colored as the petals and sepals on the outside, whitish inside; the middle lobe spreading, much crisped at the margin, pale amethyst-purple; the disk whitish to pale yellow. A widespread species in southern Brazil, it grows in many types of situations, on trees, on bare rocks, in deep shade and in full sun, hence giving rise to a wide range of forms. The species Cattleya harrisoniana, treated above, is sometimes considered as a variety. There is a fine pure albino form, known as Stanley's variety, as well as numerous other outstanding varieties. The demarcation lines between this species, Cattleya intermedia, and several other so-called species are not sharp and a modern taxonomic investigation of the group would be worthwhile. Blooms in late summer, as a rule, but plants from different habitats flower at different times.

C. nobilior 'Ed Gilliland', AM/AOS; Grower:
Krull/Smith, photo: Greg Allikas


Cattleya nobilior: Brazil. Introduced by the Compagnie Continental d'Horticulture around 1882 and described by Reichenbach in ILLUSTRATION HORTICOLE in 1883, it has often been considered a variety of Cattleya walkeriana which it greatly resembles. Like Cattleya walkeriana, the flower stem is produced from a slender, sheathed shoot which arises from the rhizome (reproductive growth). The flowers are larger and the edges of the lateral lobes of the lip meet along their entire length to conceal the column unlike walkeriana with its exposed column. The plants grow on rough-barked trees at the edges of high clifs in coastal Brazil where they are exposed to full sun. The climate is sharply seasonal with an extended 5 or 6 month rainless period when relative humidity is often as low as 20% and the daytime temperatures hover in the 60'sF or higher. Until recently, this species has been little seen in cultivation.

Cattleya x patrocinii: Brazil. Described by St. Leger in CIDADE DE Rio in 1890, it is presumed to be a natural hybrid between Cattleya guttata and Cattleya warneri. Little known, it is not found in cultivation.

C. porphyroglossa 'MAJ', CBR/AOS; Grower:
MAJ Orchids



Cattleya porphyroglossa: Brazil. Another obscure and little known form which was described by Reichenbach in ALLGEMEINE GARTENZEIT, this species has always been rare and few plants have ever reached cultivation. It is a near-relative of granulosa, with which it shares a lip midlobe covered in purple granulations. It grows epiphytically on low trees near water. First introduced into cultivation by Low and Co. in England in 1864 it was found growing in association with C. harrisoniana.  Plants reach more than two feet tall and flower during the summer months.




C. schilleriana 'Memoria Marie A. Kollmer',
AM/AOS; Grower: B. Kollmer,
photo: M. Marietti

Cattleya schilleriana: Brazil. Originally flowering in the collection of Consul Schiller, in Hamburg, in 1857, it had been introduced from the province of Bahia, Brazil. Reichenbach described the species the same year in BERLIN ALLGEMEINE GARTENZEIT. Two years later a different color form was given by Messrs. Backhouse to Sir William Hooker at Kew, described by him in BOTANICAL MAGAZINE in 1859 as variety concolor. It has been imported but rarely, with considerable color variation, and was suspected as being a natural hybrid between Cattleya guttata and Cattleya aclandiae. While it resembles the latter in plant habit, it is recognized as a distinct species by modern authorities. It bears one or two (rarely more) four-inch flowers. The petals and sepals are similar, waved at the margin and quite variable in color, most commonly spotted with purplish brown. The lip is deeply three-lobed, the side lobes triangular and infolding the column, whitish on the outside and yellow streaked with purple inside; the middle lobe is transversely kidney-shaped, crimson-purple marked with radiating whitish lines, the margin fringed; the yellow disk is scored longitudinally by five depressed lines. A distinctive and attractive orchid not commonly found in collections, it is recommended to hobbyists for an early-flowering bifoliate, usually blooming in April and May.

Cattleya superba: (= Cattleya violacea).

C. velutina 'Shalimar', HCC/AOS;
Grower: Gigi Gildas

Cattleya velutina: Brazil. First considered a natural hybrid, it is now given specific rank since it has been imported in quantities which throw doubt on its hybrid origin. Flowering first in cultivation in 1870 in the collection of Mr. Joseph Broom, of Didsbury, near Manchester, it was described by Reichenbach in GARDENERS' CHRONICLE for that year. Slender erect stems about fifteen inches high, bearing several flowers each around four inches across. Sepals and petals are nearly equal, tawny yellow spotted with maroon-purple. Lip is three-lobed, the side lobes small, white streaked with purple at their base inside, the middle lobe spreading, white with an orange-yellow blotch at the base with radiating purple veins. Attractive for both the color and fragrance of the flowers, it is not very frequently found in collections in the United States. It blooms in late summer.


Cattleya x victoriae-reginae: Brazil. A very rare native of Pernambuco, it is probably a natural hybrid between Cattleya labiata and Cattleya guttata. It has tall, thin pseudobulbous stems, bearing two leaves (occasionally one) and an erect three- to five-flowered raceme, each flower about four and one-half inches across. The petals are twice as wide as the sepals, slightly waved at the margins. Sepals and petals are mauve flushed with pale yellow, with fine red veining. Lip is three-lobed, the side lobes meeting above the column, enfolding the greater part of the column, the middle lobe broad, with crisped margin, crimson with radiating yellow veins. It is not commonly seen in cultivation.

C. violacea 'Lois', AM/AOS; Grower: Jack
Wible, photo: Teresa Neal

Cattleya violacea: British Guiana, Colombia, Venezuela and Brazil. First discovered by the traveler Humboldt, it was described in 1816 as Cymbidium violaceum. Subsequently introduced into cultivation in 1838 by Sir Robert Schomburgk it was named Cattleya superba in Lindley's SERTIUM ORCHIDACEUM and became widely known under the latter name. In 1889, however, R. A. Rolfe in the GARDENERS' CHRONICLE demonstrated that the two species were synonymous and the earlier specific name should stand as Cattleya violacea. The stems are spindle-shaped, up to a foot high, furrowed, with two leaves up to six inches long. The flower-stem bears three to five or more fleshy flowers, each from four to five inches across. The sepals and petals are spreading, bright rose-purple suffused with white, the sepals smooth, and the petals broader, nearly rhomboidal and waved at the margins. The lip is bly three-lobed, the side lobes acutely triangular and rolled over the column, the middle lobe transversely oblong, convex, eroded at the margin, deep crimson-purple with yellow disk with white blotches on each side, streaked with deep purple. A warm species, needing a liberal supply of moisture, it is a strikingly beautiful flower with brilliant color, well worth the effort needed to grow and flower. It blooms in July and August.


C. walkeriana 'Palmetto Star', AM/AOS;
Grower: Fred Missbach, photo: M. Pulignano

Cattleya walkeriana: Brazil. Discovered by the traveler Gardner around 1839, it was described by Hooker in the LONDON JOURNAL OF BOTANY for 1843 Cattleya bulbosa, described by Lindley in GARDENERS' CHRONICLE for 1847, is referable to this same species. A vegetative peculiarity distinguishes this species, for the flowers are not produced from the apex of the pseudobulb as in other Cattleyas but arise on separate short, slender shoots which spring directly from the rhizome at the base of the leaf-bearing growth (see footnote). This character is found only in this species and in Cattleya nobilior. The spindle-shaped pseudobulbs are up to five inches long, bearing two (occasionally one) leaves from three to five inches long. Inflorescence arises from a separate slender shoot springing from the rhizome at the base of the foliar shoot, one- to two-flowered. Flowers are large for the plant, to four and one-half inches across, ranging in color from bright rose-purple to pale pink-lilac. Sepals are pointed, petals more oval, twice as broad as the sepals. Lip is bly trilobed; the side lobes more or less erect on both sides of the column, their front edges turned outward; the middle lobe spreading, kidney-shaped with waved margin, a broad band of amethyst-purple surrounding the white or pale yellow disk which is streaked with purple This beautiful and distinctive species is slowly regaining popularity, for it has been found to be more common in Brazil than previously supposed. The flowers are long lasting and hold their shape for two or more weeks without wilting. It is widely cultivated in Minas Gerais, Brazil, where it blooms profusely. The blooming season varies, from fall to spring.

C. x whitei 'Boon', HCC/AOS; Grower: Ken
& Boon Roberts, photo: Ernest Walters




Cattleya x whitei: Brazil. A rare natural hybrid, presumably between Cattleya schilleriana and Cattleya warneri, it was sent to Messrs. Low by their collector. White, and was described by Reichenbach in GARDENERS' CHRONICLE in 1882. The flowers are medium-sized, sepals deep rose, the petals more richly colored and broader. Lip is three-lobed, the side lobes rolled around the column, the middle lobe magenta-purple with yellow disk streaked with purple. Rare in cultivation, it blooms in summer.




While the above listing does not exhaust all the recorded bifoliate Cattleyas, it does cover the greater part with emphasis on the more common species. There is no attempt to be definitive in respect to certain controversial concepts, for such is beyond our present scope. However, this article coupled with the one in March on the labiate Cattleyas should provide a reasonably sound guide to the genus Cattleya, not only for the beginners but for the more advanced growers who have felt the need for a broad treatment of the genus.


Species Now Reclassified to Other Genera

Guarianthe (Cattleya) aurantiaca 'Laura
Palmieri', AM/AOS; Grower: Mario & Silvia
Palmieri, photo: Maria Teresa Diaz

Guarianthe (Cattleya) aurantiaca: Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras. Originally described as Epidendrum aurantiacum by Lindley in the BOTANICAL REGISTER for 1838, this species represents the uncertain boundary line that by convention separated the genus Cattleya from the genus Epidendrum. It and the other closely related Central American species have recently been transferred to Guarianthe. The club-shaped pseudobulbs are a foot to fifteen inches high, with a pair of leathery, dark green leaves. The inch-and-a-half flowers are produced in an arching or slightly drooping raceme from the base of the leaves. The petals and sepals are similar, bright cinnabar-red in color. The lip is obscurely three-lobed, the middle lobe somewhat acute, cinnabar-red with several dark streaks or veins. There are several forms of this species, some being very vigorous with numerous larger flowers. Some forms do not open widely, some being truly cleistogamous, that is, self-pollinating. An easily grown species, of interest for its behavior as well as for the bright color of its small flowers, it makes a nice plant for the hobbyist, blooming in the spring and summer.

Gur. bowringiana 'Augusta', AM/AOS;
Grower: Bill Rogerson, photo: R. Peters

Guarianthe (Cattleya) bowringiana: British Honduras, Guatemala. Introduced by Veitch in 1884, and described in the GARDENERS' CHRONICLE for 1885, this species was dedicated to Mr. J. C. Bowring of Forest Farm, an ardent English amateur orchid collector. The clavate stems are a foot to twenty inches tall, swollen at the base, and bear two narrowly oblong, leathery leaves about six to eight inches long. The flower stem arises from a narrow, flattened sheath and bears from five to fifteen or more flowers which range in size from two to three inches across. Sepals and petals are bright rose-purple with somewhat deeper veining, the petals much broader than the sepals and somewhat wavy along the margins. The lip is narrowly tubular surrounding the column and externally similar in color to the sepals and petals, the anterior portion of the lip flaring outward without distinct lobes, deep purple with a central crescent of maroon surrounding the white to yellowish throat. This robust species is closely allied to Cattleya skinneri, at one time being considered a variety of C. skinneri, but is readily distinguished by the small pseudobulb-like joint between the two leaves as well as by differences in the flowers. It is easily grown and flowered, producing several leads and racemes of flowers each year, making it an ideal plant for the hobbyist. Its free-flowering character has been utilized in making hybrids which acquire this tendency to a high degree. A very fine form, with extra heavy substance and very broad, overlapping petals, is the variety splendens, probably a tetraploid form. The species blooms in the fall.

Gur. Guatemalensis 'Palmieri Passion', AM/
AOS; Grower: Mario & Silvia
Palmieri, photo: Carlos Fernandes

Cattleya x guatemalensis: Guatemala. A natural hybrid between Gurianthe (Cattleya) skinneri and Gurianthe (Cattleya) aurantiaca, it was first described by Moore in the FLORAL MAGAZINE in 1861. It has been confused with Guarianthe (Cattleya) deckeri (now considered a synonym of Gur. skinneri)i in recent years. Similar in habit to Gur. skinneri, the flowers are pale rose-purple toned with orange when first opened, the orange tone fading as the flowers age. The side lobes of the lip are pale orange on the outside, the middle lobe deep purple with a red-spotted orange-yellow disk. In some specimens the influence of Gur. aurantiaca is ber and the lip is scarcely darker than the petals and sepals. Though small flowered, the plant is vigorous in growth and free flowering, making nice specimen plants for the hobbyist. Blooms late spring and summer.



Prosthechea (Cattleya, Encyclia) citrina
'Charlotte', CCM/AOS; Grower: Wayne
Bourdette, photo: C.M. Fitch

Prosthechea (Cattleya, Encyclia) citrina: Mexico. One of the earliest recorded orchids, it was described by the Jesuit Hernandez, who wrote a natural history of Mexico in the 17th century, under the Aztec name Corticoatzontecoxochitl. The Horticultural Society of London introduced it into England around 1823 or 1824, at which time it was cited by Lindley in his COLLECTANEA BOTANICA, but the solitary plant died. In 1838 it was introduced from Oaxaca to the Duke of Bedford's collection, flowering there the following April. Not until twenty more years passed, however, was it collected in quantity but since then has become widely distributed. The two- to three-inch nearly spherical pseudobulbs are clothed in whitish membranaceous sheaths and bear two or three strap-shaped, somewhat limp leaves covered with a powdery gray coating. Flower stem pendulous, bearing one or rarely two flowers. The flowers do not open fully, remaining cupped like a tulip. Its peculiar habit of growing upside down is rarely found in the orchid family. An interesting novelty for the hobbyist, it is a fairly difficult plant to grow well, being a cool species from the high plateaus of Mexico. It blooms in April and May.