Excerpt from Dr. Eric Christenson

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lightly hirsute
Dec 27, 2006
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Somerville, NJ
And now we are judging the messenger by the "tone" of his message, not the content.
Well...yeah...and no. <My mother's catch-all phrase was. "It's not what you say, but the way you say it."> No one has answered any of the questions in my previous post, but the tone in his statement is harsh and accusitory. And you know what, it should be if what he said was true. But is it? I cannot speak for anyone else, but I don't understand how Selby rushing the publication of Selbyana in order to beat the AOS publication equates to the comment of the AOS being supporters of orchid smuggling?

Again I'm left with a lack of connection is his line of thinking. This brings me back to my previous three questions....<see above post>

I'll state I respect Dr. Christenson. I love orchids and so does he. I wouldn't be a true orchid lover if I didn't recognize the good and the time he devotes for ALL of the plants we love so that we understand them better. That said, something is just fishy here, it just reeks of it....


Well-Known Member
Mar 7, 2007
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You are wrong, Eric. Dr. Christenson was in no way involved with Pk illegally obtained.

And now we are judging the messenger by the "tone" of his message, not the content.

There are some incorrect statements in the article Theresa pointed us to. For one thing, Kovach took the plant he first saw at the roadside stand and brought it to Selby. He did not go back a year later for it, as stated in the article.

Another thing: Christenson's description of P. peruvianum preceeded Selby's. However, Selby rushed their publication of Selbyana before the AOS magazine came out.

Know your facts, folks. Best not to judge unless you have all the facts.
Dot, now I am really confused.
Selby rushed the publication to beat AOS magazine ( I assume AOS is the magazine that printed Dr. Christenson' description, is it not) then why does DR. Christenson got all upset with the one who supported him & printed his article? as per this statement:
"The American Orchid Society, of course unconditionally supports orchid smuggling. It is hardly surprising that they celebrate orchid smugglers"
Personally, I am a softy, I really feel bad for Mr. Norris & Mr. Kovach, I heard their lives are in ruins. Many many worse things happens all over the world, many drug traffickers who ruin societies, destroy families & lives got away, this is just one plant he brought back to have it named after him (goodness, gracious, what a cost to have an orchid named after yourself), he did not even keep the plant.
Is it true that one of the wife was so mad, she burned down the greenhouse when the husband was in jail?

Eric Muehlbauer

I'm still in touch with George Norris. he's out of the orchid biz entirely, needless to say. He's selling handmade pens now....basically enjoying his freedom, and still cantankerous. fortunately, his life is not in ruins, and his wife stood by him and supported him all through his incarceration. Don't know about Kovach, though.....Take care, Eric


Jun 10, 2006
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Michigan, USA
I think everyone should go back and re-read Eric Christenson's letter. You are making connection where there are none.

Eric is displeased with Kew for accepting the name changes of two orchids, one after a convicted felon fugitive and the other after an institution that was convicted of breaking international law. The AOS is complicit by publishing the Onc's new name in Lindleyana (p. 25) of Orchids, Dec. 2008.

Other than that, you'll have to talk with Eric. I suspect he has more inside knowledge of all the named institutions than any of us here have.


Well-Known Member
Sep 14, 2006
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New York City Apartment
My point was, why is he displeased? The foundations of Kew and many other institutions, Kennedy family dynasty, Rockefellor money, white South African power, USA, etc. are built on illegal an immoral abuses of power. Is he 'innocent' or naive enough to not have seen this previously in his previously squeaky clean RHS/Kew? I don't think so.


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May 4, 2008
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I have read this thread with interest, amusement, and annoyance in varying degrees.

I have several problems with the issue in general, the first and foremost being, as one poster particualrly effectively illustrated with the link to the information on deforestation: ex-situ conservation may, in the end, be the ONLY way to preserve many, if not all, orchid species. Like it or not. Approve or not. A dead orchid buried under a highway or whatever won't care what you think. Smuggling Jews out of Nazi Germany was illegal, too. Right, but illegal.

Another couple of issues I have are with the Kovach saga (good name for a tv miniseries, no?) Michael bought the plant from a farmer's roadside stand, already potted up. Yes it is true that a year later there were no plants left in that specific area. WHY? Because they had been farmed over!

Second one with the Kovach saga is that I don't want taxonomists (or AOS judges, for that matter) to be policemen. A plant was brought. They described it. It's what they're supposed to do. I dont want their work dependent on the whims and political agenda of whatever regime is in power in whichever locale they happen to be working in. Period. We'll end up with no new plants being described at all until they're recieved from police property rooms - dead. Side issue: I don't trust the police - jack-booted self-important thugs most of them in my area.

Another issue I have, related to the above, is the LAW. It isn't my god. I don't think it's a good idea for the law to be above examination. The laws in this case, I feel, are mostly wrong. Cites is wrong as it applies to orchids and was never meant to apply plants in the first place. To make it illegal to remove any part of a tiger makes sense as you'd have to kill it to get the part, but in orchids only guarantees people will rip the plants out of their natural habitat and sell them to those who cannot get them any other way, which they could if removing seedpods and pollen was permitted. And for those of you who want to jump in about the law being so important (and I do agree that it is and should be important - but not above my conscience) - at what size polity does the law become sacred? Was the law of Hitler's Germany equally sacred? How about Pol Pot's law? Mugabe's? I could go on with less egregious examples. What about a room of ten people who decide to pass their own laws in the room and then execute one of their number who break the law. Is that legal? Legitimate? Don't say I'm being ridiculous - I'm only giving examples to pinpoint the weaknesses in the reverential treatment of the law without examination. Why are the laws of the 'room of ten' not legitimate? At what size do they become so? Is it a matter of acreage? How about Monaco? Should their laws be less sacred than those of a country of 100 millon suqre miles? Or is it population? Are only the laws of groups of more than 40 million sacred? 10 million? 3 thouand? Pick a number, any number. What about the laws of a dictator or a king? Are the laws of a democracy more sacred than those of an ariostocracy? How about the laws against medical marijuana usage in the US? In fact I personally believe ALL the drug laws in the US are patentley inconstitutional on the face of them. And I don't use them. I just think it's wrong to claim to be a free country and then be in fact much closer to totalitarian.

Law, schmaw! We each will for the most part behave according to our own consciences.

It's easy to hide behind absolute concepts such as 'the law' but the reality is that life isn't that way and you have to make choices. Recognizing that and that you are in fact choosing to to decide something is wrong r right is more productive. And healthier. For all.

And BTW, Kew's collections are largely filled with smuggled plants - and not just in the distant past, either. Henryu Azadehdel suppplied a lot of them until Kew decided to turn against him. Read the literature. It's all there. Personally, I doubt any of the major player's hands are completely clean.

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