Cyps in cultivation to date: the true dirt

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Just call me Tom
Jan 12, 2008
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Kyushu, Japan; warm temperate/subtropical climate
The following is an assessment according to my knowledge of Cyp cultivation, species by species as of the present day. This information is not my opinion, but rather my understanding based on personal experience and communication with growers and even scientists throughout the world. I could be missing information however since many Cyp growers are not very forthcoming about their collections. Anyway, the point is to inform which species are being grown, where they are sourced, and finally the difficulty in growing them. I hope you find it useful. Of course if you know better about a particular species, please make a comment. Here's the first half of the genus. I've only included species and commonly recognized natural hybrids:

acaule - widely cultivated from both wild and artificially produced plants. Very difficult to maintain in the long term, but possible.
x alaskanum - same as C. guttatum.
x andrewsii - widely cultivated from lab propagated plants. Easy.
arietinum - widely cultivated, but difficult. Plants tend to reach flowering age much quicker than most species or hybrids.
bardolphianaum - a few in cultivation virtually all from wild collected material. Nobody's saying very much about them. Word is that they are much easier than other members of section Trigonopedia.
calceolus - widely cultivated especially in Europe. Mostly nursery propagated in origin, but some still coming out of western Siberia. Touchy in cultivation, but doable.
calcicolum - a few in cultivation with virtually all sourced out of the wild. Not as easy as C. macranthos, but growable in a cool climate.
californicum - widely cultivated from lab propagated plants. Very touchy in cultivation taking a long time to establish.
candidum - widely cultivated and fairly easy once established. Lab propagated material with a fair amount turning out to be mixed blood with C. parviflorum.
x columbianum - not widely grown. Reported to be much easier than C. montanum.
coridgerum - untold thousands of wild plants have been exported to Europe, America, and Japan over the last three decades. Most died, but a few persisted and today a few lab propagated plants are available. Culture however remains difficult.
debile - widely grown from both wild collected and lab produced stock. Fussy and hard to keep alive long term.
dickinsonianum - the word is the same as with other members of section Irapeana: essentially impossible even in their native lands. Perhaps a few smuggled specimens are available from time to time in the states and Europe.
elegans - unavailable and untried as far as I know.
fargesii - lab propagated plants becoming available in Europe. This species seems to be the easiest of the section Trigonopedia. Still rare in cultivation, but it should become more common in time. Having said that, it remains difficult to grow.
farreri - a number of plants have been exported since the mid '90s, mostly to Europe and Japan. The vast bulk of these have turned out to be C. fasciolatum.This species remains mostly an enigma in cultivation since no one is talking about it much. Rumor is that it is being grown in Europe, but is not generally available. There may be a few plants also in North America, but everyone is hush-hush. Are there any lab propagated plants out there? Maybe, but no body seems to be offering them. Word is that they are much more touchy in cultivation compared to the near relative C. fasciolatum.
fasciolatum - widely cultivated from both wild collected, and more recently, artificially propagated plants. Cultivation seems straight forward. Still difficult to get in the states, but available in Europe.
fasciculatum - few have tried to grow this one and fewer have succeeded. Very difficult species to grow and maintain. A few seedlings are offered each year here and there.
flavum - widely cultivated from both wild and artificially propagated plants. Culture is more difficult than its near relative C. reginae, but possible. It requires cool summer temperatures among other things. Not easy to get in the states, but fairly common on the European market.
formosanum - widely cultivated from mostly nursery propagated divisions and lab produced seedlings. What is remarkable is that this plant remains a little difficult to obtain, especially in the states. Very easy in milder climates, but cannot take very cold winters.
forrestii - a few wild collected plants are being grown in Europe and possibly North America. This plant seems very closely allied to both C. bardolphianum and C. micranthum, so it likely is possible to grow by diligent growers. Generally still unavailable in the trade except as wild collected, smuggled plants.
franchetii - widely cultivated, but remains quite rare in collections. Both wild collected and lab produced plants available today. Similar requirements to C. tibeticum and C. calcicolum and probably about as easy to grow, that is, a bit tricky.
froschii - not widely available, but a few wild collected plants offered each year. It can be found in both European and North American collections very infrequently. Not easy and not hard to grow.
guttatum - widely grown and moderately available. Two groups of plants are currently being cultivated: high mountain forms from SE China and Alaskan plants. They seem to be rather easy to grow in cold winter/cool summer climates, but otherwise are nearly impossible to grow in hotter areas.
henryi - widely grown and becoming more available in the US market. Many are wild collected, but many have been lab propagated too. Reported to be very easy.
x herae - unusual natural hybrid between C. reginae and C. parviflorum v. pubescens. Very rare in the wild (found only in Canada so far) and virtually unavailable in the trade. Probably fairly easy to cultivate.
himalaicum - along with C. cordigerum, many thousands have been taken from the wilds of Himalayan countries over the last 30 years or more, and few if any, have survived to this day. This plant may be in cultivation somewhere, but again, no one is saying much about it. It seems to need something folks just can't provide. A few smuggled plants available in Europe from time to time.
irapeanum - along with C. dickinsonianum and C. molle, this species seems to defy any attempt at being cultivated. Nobody seems to understand why exactly. Seedlings have been artificially produced, but none that have been deflasked have grown on compost successfully. Reports out of Germany suggest someone there has been successful and even flowered some seedlings, but no photos have been made public and this remains doubtful, at least for now. Very, very difficult species that remain unavailable. Plants have been wild collected and exported from Mexico since the late 1800s, but no reliable reports of surviving specimens exist.
japonicum - widely grown species that remains difficult to grow and apparently very difficult to flower even after being firmly established. Production from seed has been also very difficult, so plants in the trade are virtually all wild sourced. Not an easy species.

The other half to follow if this thread seems interesting to readers.
As requested, part II.

kentuckiense - widely grown and widely available. Virtually all plants in the trade are lab propagated since it is very easy from seed. Also straight forward in cultivation even in hotter climates with cold to cool winters.
lentiginosum - occasional smuggled plants show up on the world market, most end up in Europe, no doubt to die. Like other members of Trigonopedia, this one is difficult to grow and little is known about its cultivation.
lichiangense - another difficult species that was exported in quantity throughout the world, but in recent times has become less available. The main reason is that virtually all the plants exported ended up dead within a very short time. Successful long term cultivation is apparently difficult, but not impossible. Currently seedlings are being grown by a number of people and in time this species could become more common in the trade. It will always remain a very difficult plant to grow. No adult size lab propagated plants yet exist in the trade however.
ludlowii - a weirdo rarity that lives in a very confined area of SE China on the boarder of Tibet. Not in the trade so far.
macranthos - widely cultivated and widely available, but mature specimens remain difficult to obtain, especially in North America. Plants are sourced from Siberia mostly, some have been lab propagated, but many more are wild collected. Reported to be fairly easy in cultivation, but not simple. More choice varieties, especially those from Japan, are rare in cultivation and very expensive.
margaritaceum - another plant that was exported throughout the '90s to Europe and North America. Most perished and today even seedlings or divisions are virtually unavailable. Perhaps a few wild plants remain in cultivation here and there, but no one is talking about them in the open. Very difficult in cultivation.
micranthum - widely, but rarely cultivated; all wild sourced. Reportedly not so difficult once established, but a bit touchy. Rarely offered and always from wild collected plants, either established ones or recently dug.
molle - same as C. irapeanum.
montanum - widely grown and widely available, but remains difficult to grow. Wild collected plants in particular are nearly impossible to reestablish (especially outside its native range). Even seed propagated plants are really tough to keep going. Not commonly offered, but consistently offered here and there. Very difficult to establish.
palangshanense - wild collected material was exported to the world market through the '90s up to recent times. Perhaps some plants are being maintained in Europe and maybe even a few in the states. Not much being said about them however. A few seedling plants are offered in Europe each year. Like C. debile, it probably is difficult to maintain in the long term, but not impossible.
parviflorum v. pubescens - widely grown and very available. Many thousands of plants are grown and sold each year throughout the world. Easy species and a great one to start with.
parviflorum v. parviflorum - almost as easy as its big brother. A tad bit more difficult to get, but still very available.
passerinum - easily grown in high latitude cold climates, but nearly impossible even under cool temperate conditions. Due to this it is not commonly offered or grown, but at the same time can be found in collections in both North America and Europe.
plechtrochilum - supposedly slightly easier to grow than its American cousin C. arietinum. Plants today remain mostly wild sourced. More and more though, lab propagated plants are making it into the trade. Not easy to grow long term.
reginae - perhaps even more widely grown and produced than C. parviflorum v. pubescens. This species is very easy in cooler climates, but cannot tolerate overly hot summers even if the winters are cold. A good species to start with.
segawai - widely grown in scattered collections throughout the world. This rare plant was exported from its native Taiwan in fairly large numbers until recently. Currently it is nearly extinct in the wild. It seems to be growable, but not easy since it is such a dwarf plant. Occasional plants are offered here and there, but it mostly remains very difficult to obtain. That could change in the coming years since it is now being lab propagated by a number of people.
shanxiense - this plant is mostly unavailable in the trade. Occasional wild plants are offered and even a few seedlings have made it to the market. It seems to be quite touchy in cultivation however. Very likely it will remain an unusual specimen in most collections.
sichuanense - another highly desirable spotted leaf species that defies cultivation. No good reports of this one stabilizing in the long haul. Seedlings are now being offered in Europe, so perhaps like C. lichiangense, this little beauty will eventually become established, at least among expert growers.
subtropicum - a near phantom species, even to the scientists that first found and described it! Needless to say it remains unavailable in the trade and the remained plants live in an off limits section of Tibet near the Indian boarder. Cultivation requirements remain unknown. Likely not a easy one though.
tibeticum - widely grown, but fairly rare in collections, especially in North America. All adult plants available are wild sourced currently. Some seedlings in production. This plant is growable, but more difficult than C. macranthos. Unfortunately still hard to obtain legally.
x ventricosum - widely grown and widely available. This very easy to grow plant is to this day mostly available through plants that have been collected from the Chinese/Russian boarder area in Manchuria and adjacent parts of Siberia. Some lab produced seedlings are coming available each year too. Fortunately it is very easy to grow, even withstanding warm to hot summers provided the winters are cold. Very possibly one of the most beautiful Cyps in cultivation. Look for choice selections of this one to become more available through the coming years. Also sold under the names C. mandshuricum and C. barbeyi. Neither name is broadly recognized however.
wardii - exported in some number to Europe and even a few to America. Most probably died within a short span. Not much being said about existing plants in culitvation. Everyone I know who has had them have lost them or they are just hanging on. Virtually all available plants in the trade today are wild sourced. Perhaps some plants have been established here and there in private collections. Legal, lab produced specimens not yet available, or perhaps not even in existence!
x wenqingiae - rare natural hybrid of C. tibeticum and C. farreri. Not known in cultivation, at least publicly.
wumengense - enigmatic species that very likely is just a type of C. margaritaceum. Unknown in collections, but no doubt someone is offering wild plants under this name.
yatabeanum - close cousin to C. guttatum, but thankfully more heat tolerant, growing nicely in cool temperate climates. Not often available, but widely grown nonetheless. Seems fairly easy.
yunnanense - a difficult to grow member of the section Macrantha. Seedlings are available on the European market, but have proved difficult to grow. Some wild plants undoubtedly circulating. Hardest member of this section to grow, at least so far.

I also made an important omission in the first set: the natural hybrid between C. parviflorum v. pubescens and C. candidum, C. x favillianum. This hybrid is becoming more available in the trade, but remains expensive. Easy to grow lab propagated plants are available in North America and Europe.
nice list! what about c. parviflorum var. makasin (the northern small yellow)?

Hey Charles,

I thought of including v. makasin, but didn't because of its questioned status. In retrospect I would have included it. V. makasin though definitely is a distinct plant horticulturally, if not ecologically. The C. parviflorum complex is so diverse and wide ranging that many local variants could be given varietal status in my view, but few have. Other interesting forms that are quite distinct include the unusual southern Appalachian race of v. parviflorum, v. planipetalum, and the understudied western Canadian forms. No doubt a great group of plants for growers regardless of taxonomic status!
Thanks, Tom,

A great review!

I certainly agree with the descriptions for the plants I keep or have kept (eg montanum several times).

makasin as a distinct plant I dont know about. Certainly it is fairly straightforward to distinguish "big ones" - which I always refer to as pubescens from "small ones" - which I always refer to as parviflorum. I do have many "makasin" now and I must say that they are far more rapid-growing and clumping than any of the Eastern and Southeastern parviflorum that I have. I am not sure what this means, but they are "distinct" in this regard and in Flora of America, Sheviak recognizes them.

I know for may tropical orchids if two forms have a different scent, a different structure, different growing location and different flowering time it is a no-brainer to call it a different species. Parviflorum and makasin have definitely different substrates they grow in, different scent and different flowering time, but it is still just a variety instead of a species taxonomically. It is definitely a different variety, though I think it should be it's own species. (not that that means anything ;) ) Dr. Sheviak has checked out many spots of makasin around here; it is usually a few weeks after pubescens. Parviflorum used to be near Albany where Chuck works and it was only in acidic woodland conditions and makasin grows in calciferous muck. (usually)

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