Why Are They So Special?

April 2023 - by By Nile S. Dusdieker

The answer to the question posed in the title is simple: the awards pictured here were considered the most outstanding in their respective categories among all AOS awards given in 2021 as determined by the Judging Committee and all the regional Judging Centers. Special commendation is due to our amazing photographers who captured the essence of each plant or exhibit. In writing this summary, I asked the exhibitors what makes this award so special, and have included some of their comments. I also wish to thank the AOS Board of Trustees and the various donors whose support made these awards possible.

The Ann and Phil Jesup Botanical Trophy is awarded to the grower of the most outstanding orchid species awarded during the previous calendar year. The Butterworth Prize is given to the grower of the orchid plant regarded as the most outstanding example of orchid culture. Both prestigious awards went to KrullSmith Orchid Nursery for Renanthera imschootiana ‘Crystelle’ FCC/CCE/AOS on April 9, at the Apopka International Orchid Festival, Florida North-Central Judging Center; photographer: Brian Monk. The plant was huge and in pristine condition with over 2,000 flowers residing on its own rolling cart. It received 100 points, the maximum possible, for culture. I bet it has not been repotted in a while!

[1] Renanthera imschootiana ‘Crystelle’ FCC-CCE/AOS, winner of both the Ann and Phil Jesup Botanical Trophy for the most outstanding species and the Butterworth prize for the most outstanding example of orchid culture.

The Masatoshi Miyamoto Award is given to the grower of the most outstanding Cattleya Alliance: Cattleya percivaliana ‘Dave Off’ FCC/AOS awarded at Hawaii Center Monthly Judging, Big Island, November 13; exhibitors: Ben Oliveros and Orchid Eros; photographer: Glen Barfield. Ben said, “This is the result of breeding two outstanding plants with different desirable attributes and getting the best of both. I received two FCCs and an AM on the same night to this grex.” Eight stunning flowers on four erect inflorescences are special indeed!

[2] Cattleya percivaliana ‘Dave Off’ FCC/ AOS, winner of the Masatoshi Miyamoto Award for the most outstanding Cattleya AllianceS.

The W.W. Wilson Award is given to the grower of the most outstanding example of the Cypripedium Alliance: Phragmipedium Stairway to Heaven ‘Max’ AM/CCE/AOS awarded in the Great Plains Center Monthly Judging on March 20; exhibitor: Max C. Thompson; photographer, Bryon K Rinke. Bryon commented, “When this plant started to throw out its inflorescences, we were hoping it would make it to judging. It had flowered the year before and was spectacular. The flowers all opened in time for judging and the arrangement was what all photographers hope for!” This plant is so special that it needs to be set on a pedestal!

[3] Phragmipedium Stairway to Heaven ‘Max’ CCE/AOS, winner of the W.W. Wilson Award for the most outstanding example of the Cypripedioideae.

The Herbert Hager Award is given to the grower of the most outstanding example of the genus Phalaenopsis: Phalaenopsis Phoenix Firefight ‘Phoenix Ruby’ FCC/AOS awarded on September 6, at Desert Valley Orchid Society, Outreach, Pacific South Judging Center; exhibitor: Wes Addison; photographer: Eric Goo. Wes commented, “I was able to celebrate this FCC with Eric Goo, the hybridizer (a 30-year plus friend) and the first FCC for one of his crosses. This is the second time in four years that one of Eric’s crosses has garnered this special award and should be an inspiration for small hybridizers.” Wes said he almost gave this plant away; that would not have been a good choice!

[4] Phalaenopsis Phoenix Firefight ‘Phoenix Ruby’ FCC/AOS, winner of the Herbert Hager Award for the most outstanding Phalaenopsis.

The Roy T. Fukumura Award is given to the grower of the orchid regarded as the most outstanding example of the genus Vanda and those genera in the subtribe Aeridinae, which hybridize with Vanda: Vanda Noppadol Delight ‘Julia Elizabeth’ AM/AOS awarded on September 25, at the Louisiana Center Monthly Judging; exhibitor: Eron Borne; photographer: Susan Hathorn. Eron answered my question, “The pattern of this flower is mesmerizing, and the color is electric pink! What makes it even more special is that it has always bloomed with two or three spikes, making for a striking and spectacular display!”

[5] Vanda Noppadol Delight ‘Julia Elizabeth’ AM/AOS, winner of the Roy T. Fukumura Award for the most outstanding Vanda or other genera in the Aeridinae that hybridize with Vanda.

The James and Marie Riopelle Award is given to the grower of the most outstanding example of Miltonia/ Miltoniopsis: Miltoniopsis Morris Chestnut ‘H171’ AM/AOS awarded March 20, at Great Plains Center Monthly Judging; exhibitor: Max C. Thompson; photographer: Bryon Rinke. Bryon commented, “Miltonias and miltoniopsis are difficult for us to grow in Kansas. We keep them near the wet wall and shaded. These flowers were a real showstopper at judging!” Indeed, the lip markings look like a real waterfall!

[6] Miltoniopsis Morris Chestnut ‘H171’ AM/AOS, winner of the James and Marie Riopelle Award for the most outstanding Miltonia or Miltoniopsis.

The Carlyle A. Luer Award is given to the grower of the most outstanding example of the Pleurothallid Alliance: Lepanthes guatemalensis ‘Silas’ CHM/ AOS awarded on October 9 at the Illinois Orchid Society Show, Chicago Judging Center; exhibitor: Walter E. Crawford; photographer: Katie Payeur. Walter said, “I’m just an old guy who grows orchids in the Midwest. I started growing orchids in 1976. Shortly thereafter, I found Dr. Carlyle A. Luer’s ‘Green Books,’ the Icones Pleurothallidinarium, and read as much as I could about these genera. I am fascinated by the beauty, form and color of Lepanthes and am humbled and honored to have a plant that qualified for this award.” Walter can pack more orchids in a small space at shows than anyone I know!

[7] Lepanthes guatemalensis ‘Silas’ CHM/ AOS, winner of the Carlyle A. Luer Award for the most outstanding example of the Pleurothallid Alliance.

The Benjamin Kodama Award is given to the grower of the most outstanding Dendrobium Alliance: Dendrobium chrysotoxum ‘Julie Wert’ AM/CCE/AOS awarded on April 28 at the Florida NorthCentral Judging Center; exhibitor: Cheryl Finke; photographer: Kay Clark. Cheryl said, “I bought the plant in 2010 for $7, it seems to have the right climate, positioning in the pool cage, along with an automated watering system, repotted every few years, and always kept in a ceramic pot. When it is really, really cold, as in freezing here, I do bring the plant into the garage. Now I must use a dolly. It has always been a reliable bloomer. This is my first and only CCE award. Considering I don’t really baby it, cool to get a national award!”

[8] Dendrobium chrysotoxum ‘Julie Wert’ AM-CCE/AOS, winner of the Benjamin Kodama Award for the most outstanding example of the Dendrobium Alliance.

The Robert B. Dugger Odontoglossum Award recognizes the best of orchids with the former genus, Odontoglossum, in their background: Oncostele Eye Candy ‘Penny Candy’ AM/AOS was awarded October 22 at Hawaii Center Monthly Judging, Big Island; exhibitor: Okika Ltd.; photographer: Glen Barfield. “I made Ons. Eye Candy in the early 2000s and have been making hybrids for the pot plant industry since 1995. This hybrid was very fast growing and produced two plants, ‘Penny Candy’ and ‘Pinkie’, which I cloned. Both have received Awards of Merit. I’m delighted that this grex has received this attention,” Aloha, Glen.

[9] Oncostele Eye Candy ‘Penny Candy’ AM/AOS, winner of the Robert B. Dugger Award for the best example in the former Odontoglossum and their hybrids.

The Milton Carpenter Intergeneric Oncidiinae Award is for the most outstanding example of intergeneric hybridizing within the Oncidiinae: Aliceara Sophia Liebman ‘Rustic #1’ AM/AOS awarded at Pacific South Monthly Judging on September 11; exhibitor: Howard Liebman, MD; photographer: Arnold Gum. Howard is a well-known “active grower and long-time hybridizer of odontoglossum and oncidium intergeneric hybrids.” This cross comes from the lineage of Bratonia (Miltassia) Charles M. Fitch and its offspring Aliceara Marfitch, which he and Robert Dugger made at about the same time. Dugger registered it first. The color of this clone seems appropriate for Dr. Leibman, who as a physician specializes in blood diseases.

[10] Aliceara Sophia Liebman ‘Rustic #1’ AM/AOS, winner of the Milton Carpenter Intergeneric Oncidiinae Award for the most outstanding example of intergeneric hybridizing in Oncidiinae.

The Fred Hillerman Award is given to the grower of the orchid plant regarded as the most outstanding example of the Angraecoid Alliance: Angranthes Grandalena ‘Big Bear’s Ivory Star’ FCC/ AOS awarded January 30 at the Florida West Coast Orchid Society Show (Largo, Florida), Florida North-Central Judging Center; exhibitor: Ryan Kowalczyk; photographer: Wes Newton. This spectacular orchid is a rather uncommon cross between Aeranthes and Angraecum with only 28 hybrids registered. This grex has 10 AOS awards. Ryan commented, “I am a hobby grower, and to have one of my plants recognized as being one of the best is an honor. To make this even more special to me is that this is the second year in a row, and the third time in my many years of growing, that I have been given this recognition … I’m very humbled and appreciative.” This should give other hobby growers encouragement and hope!

[11] Angranthes Grandalena ‘Big Bear’s Ivory Star’ FCC/AOS, winner of the Fred Hillerman Award for the most outstanding example of the Angraecoid Alliance.

The Ernest Hetherington Award is given to the grower of the most outstanding example of the genus Cymbidium: Cymbidium Jungle King ‘Red Rooster’ AM/AOS awarded at West Palm Beach Center Monthly Judging on March 27; exhibitor: Everglades Orchids, photographer: Tom Kuligowski. Nineteen large, deep rose flowers on two upright inflorescences highlighted an amazing crimson and cream lip. I could see these flowers as corsages at prom; does anyone else remember those days?

[12] Cymbidium Jungle King ‘Red Rooster’ AM/AOS, winner of the Ernest Hetherington Award for the most outstanding Cymbidium.

The Benjamin C. Berliner Award is given to the grower of the most outstanding example of the genera Lycaste, Ida (Sudamerlycaste) or Anguloa: Anguloa eburnea ‘Lisse’ AM/CCM/AOS awarded August 21 at the Great Plains Center Monthly Judging; exhibitor: Douglas Needham; photographer: Bryon Rinke. “I got ‘bit by the orchid bug’ as a teenager,” said Douglas, and “I was entranced with the elegance of Anguloa and made it one of my goals to grow. In retirement, I now have the glasshouse conditions to grow this spectacular genus.” As an added benefit, the flowers have a lovely fragrance.

[13] Anguloa eburnea ‘Lisse’ AM/CCM/AOS, winner of the Benjamin C. Berliner Award for the most outstanding Lycaste, Ida, Anguloa species or hybrid.

The Bill Thoms Award is given to the most outstanding example of the Bulbophyllinae: Bulbophyllum Tree Frog ‘Crystelle’ FCC/AOS awarded on August 6 at the International Phalaenopsis Alliance Symposium (Altamonte Springs, Florida); exhibitor: Krull-Smith; photographer: Ramon de los Santos. No, this is not a “moth” orchid, but it is big enough, at 3.1 inches (8 cm) horizontal spread. The four flowers show vibrant color and may not even smell bad!

[14] Bulbophyllum Tree Frog ‘Crystelle’ FCC/ AOS, winner of the Bill Thoms Award for the most outstanding Bulbophyllum.

The Frank Sr. and Elizabeth Jasen Award is for the most outstanding example of the Stanhopea Alliance: Stanhopea Assidensis ‘Max & Bryon’ AM/AOS awarded on August 21 at the Great Plains Center Monthly Judging; exhibitors: Max Thompson and Bryon Rinke; photographer: Bryon Rinke. Bryon mentioned, “This plant flowered for us for the first time in 2014 and is a shy bloomer. The plant has become quite large but … we keep it around anyway.” Perseverance seems to have paid off!

[15] Stanhopea Assidensis ‘Max & Bryon’ AM/AOS, winner of the Frank Sr. and Elizabeth Jasen Award for the most outstanding example of the Stanhopinae.

The Mario and Conni Ferrusi Award is given to the grower of the most outstanding example of Masdevallia, Dracula or Dracuvallia: Dracula gorgona (Xanthina) ‘Pride & Joy’ FCC/AOS, August 27 at Hawaii Center Monthly Judging, Big Island; exhibitors: Ben Oliveros and Orchid Eros; photographer: Glen Barfield. “Xanthitic (yellow) Draculas are so alluring, rare, and hard to grow, that this award was a surprise. It is an amazing flower deserving of an FCC and beautifully photographed by Glen Barfield,” said Ben.

[16] Dracula gorgona (Xanthina) ‘Pride & Joy’ FCC/AOS,winner of the Mario and Conni Ferrusi Award for the most outstanding Masdevallia, Dracula or Dracuvallia.

The Fuchs FamilyAward is given to the most outstanding example of the genus Vanda (intergeneric hybrids are excluded from consideration): Vanda LaVoyce Porter ‘Crownfox’ AM/AOS awarded March 21 at East Everglades Orchid Society, Outreach, West Palm Beach Judging Center; exhibitor: R.F. Orchids, Inc.; photographer: Tom Kuligowski. Robert Fuchs says this is one of his attempts to breed unusually colored vandas; this “hybrid is between a rich yellow with red spots and a deep raspberry. One parent, Vanda CrownFox Avocado Honey received an AQ and several AOS awards. We have incorporated this hybrid into our breeding program and produced some outstanding, unusual sunset shades.”

[17] Vanda LaVoyce Porter ‘Crownfox’ AM/AOS, winner of the Fuchs Family Award for the most outstanding example of Vanda (intergeneric hybrids are excluded).

The Walter Off Exhibit Award is given to an AOS Show Trophy Award (ST), Silver Certificate (SC), Gold Certificate (GC), or Educational Award (EC) that is recognized as the most outstanding example of these types of awards. American Orchid Society Show Trophy, Oklahoma Orchid Society Show ‘Bewitched by Orchids’ ST/GC/AOS, October 2, Great Plains Judging Center; exhibitors: Max Thompson and Bryon Rinke; photographer: Bryon K Rinke. This was a beautiful tabletop exhibit measuring 3 feet (91 cm) wide × 8 feet (244 cm) long × 5 feet (152 cm) tall, with 23 plants nicely spaced. “The exhibit was put together by Bryon Rinke. Max Thompson is the one that sits back and tells him to move the plants to the left or right, up or down, turn it one way or the other, and if the color flow is correct,” relates Bryon. “We put the exhibit up in about one hour and it paid off!”

[18] Winner of the Walter Off Exhibit Award for the most outstanding Silver Certificate, Gold Certificate or Show Trophy display.

The Paul and Mary Storm Award is given to the grower of the orchid plant that is regarded as the most outstanding example of a hybrid with at least one former Schomburgkia species in its background (now Myrmecophila and part of Laelia): Myrmecocattleya Marissa’s Aurora ‘Rockin Robin’ AM/AOS on April 24 at the West Palm Beach Center Monthly Judging; exhibitor: Robin Lemke-Fasulo; photographer: Tom Kuligowski. Robin said, “I purchased the winning young orchid roughly five years ago and suspected it was worthy of entering for AOS judging when it first bloomed. Fortunately, the next time it bloomed was just prior to an AOS judging weekend. I was beyond thrilled when it won an AM, my first award ever, and now the recipient of this award, is beyond belief and a dream come true!”

[19] Myrmecocattleya Marissa’s Aurora ‘Rockin Robin’ AM/AOS, winner of the Paul and Mary Storm Award for the most outstanding hybrid involving a former schomburgkia.

The Martin Motes Orchid Breeder’s Award is given to the breeder and exhibitor of the best Award of Quality (AQ) or Award of Distinction (AD). The goal is to encourage hybridizers and growers to exhibit their work and to make more hybrids: Cycnoches cooperi (‘Orchid Eros’ AM/AOS × ‘Sebastian Ferrell’) AQ/AOS presented October 9 at Hawaii Center Monthly Judging, Big Island; exhibitors: Ben Oliveros and Orchid Eros; photographer: Glen Barfield. Ben said, “This was my third generation of line breeding from a flask of cooperi … they continued to garner awards with each generation, and this one was ‘mission accomplished’ — an FCC and the AQ. It gets no better than this for a breeder or exhibitor!”

[20] Winner of the Martin Motes Breeder’s Award for the most outstanding Award of Quality or Award of Distinction; Cycnoches cooperi (‘Orchid Eros’ AM/AOS × ‘Sebastian Ferrell’) AQ/AOS.

The Renée and Marvin Gerber Award is given to the grower of the most outstanding hybrid with Brassavola as a parent: Brassocattleya Hamlyn’s Magic ‘Rowan’s Return’ AM/AOS awarded November 13 at Hawaii Center Monthly Judging, Big Island; exhibitors: Ben Oliveros and Orchid Eros; photographer: Glen Barfield. “I (Ben) did a remake of Bc. Hamlyn’s Magic that created this cultivar. Many of the seedlings were well-shaped with good color, but this was by far the best. With flowers that change color as they age, it presented a spectrum of colors on multiple inflorescences.”

[21] Brassocattleya Hamlyn’s Magic ‘Rowan’s Return’ AM/AOS, winner of the Reneé and Marvin Gerber Award for the most outstanding hybrid of brassavolas.

The Merritt W. Huntington Award is given to the grower of the most outstanding flower to have been awarded a First Class Certificate (FCC) during the preceding calendar year: Bulbophyllum claptonense (Flavum) ‘Crystelle’ CHM/ FCC/AOS awarded on July 24 at the Florida North-Central Judging Center; exhibitor: Krull-Smith; photographer: Wes Newton. This species was originally classified as a taxonomic form of Bulbophylum lobbii. Bulbophyllum claptonense has a large, thickened, yellow– orange callus in the middle of the lip, as does this plant, which is absent in Bulb. lobbii. The yellow form of this species is not a described taxonomic form. To separate it from the typically colored variants of the species, the word Flavum is added after the species name in parentheses and not italicized. And thus, we come to the end of this year’s awards. Special flowers, special exhibitors, special photographers, and fun comments. I hope this does indeed answer the question proposed in the title. — Nile S. Dusdieker (email niledusdieker@gmail.com).

[22] Bulbophyllum claptonense (Flavum) ‘Crystelle’ CHM-FCC/AOS, winner of the Merritt W. Huntington Award for the most outstanding First Class Certificate.

 April 2023
April 2023
The April 2023 issue contains articles from “WHY ARE THEY SO SPECIAL” to “FAST FORWARD TO NORMAL" and more.

Also in this issue

  • April is our annual awards issue
  • Tom's Monthly Checklist by Thomas Mirenda
  • Orchid Places - Enamel Orchids: Elythranthera (Caladenia) by Tom Mirenda
  • Collector's Item - Ceratocentron fesselii by Judith Rapacz-Hasler
  • Judge's Corner - Judging Floriferousness: Part 6 - Cultural Awards and Writing Descriptions by Andrew Coghill-Behrends
  • Orchids Illustrated - Chromotypogravure by Wesley Higgins and Peggy Alrich
  • For the Novice - Organizing Your Growing Area by Sue Bottom
  • Why Are They So Special? 2021 American Orchid Society Special Annual Awards By Nile S. Dusdieker
  • Fast Forward to Normal. The 2022 First Class Certificates By Carol Klonowski
  • Lindleyana - New records of Lepanthes Sw. from Ecuador, Pt. 1 by Alfonso Doucette, Hugo Medina, and Jose Portilla
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