Rick can you discribe the ovary and stem as far as, hairy, not hairy, long? short? How about the color? Your posting shows on my screen a deep green background color with dark brown/purple overlay. With P. hirsutissimum v. esquirolei, I think of a more yellowish/light brown background color with the brown/purple overlay.
And what about the plant itself? P. hirsutissimum that I've had in the past were difficult to bloom here in TX. I would get bud sheaths in the fall, set there all winter, make a move in early spring and blast because it got too hot too fast. Also, the leaves of P. hirsutissimum were darker green, wider and softer or less substance to then in comparison to esquirolei.
I guess what is really on my mind is this, are there really two separate species and P. hirsutissimum is so rare in cultivation these days that esquirolei is getting all the "credit" for both type discriptions and that the name P. hirsutissimum v. esquirolei is being slapped on any ole plant without solid evidence. Of course the name itself is being used haphazardly, either the whole name , the first half or the second half without regard to the true nature of the plant. Or is there just one species and name is still being thrown a round with disregard?
It stands to reason, that way back when varity esquirolei was discoveried, that somebody had P. hirsutissimum in one hand and esquirolei in the other and said "there is a difference so we'll call this varity esquirolei" Why else keep both names?
There's definitely hairs, but that seems like a relative measure. When it first starts to spike the hairs are very dense. The older and longer the spike gets the sparser the hair. Plant color and form is also highly variable. The cooler and darker I grow it the darker it gets. The warmer it gets the paler it gets. Typically my plants set sheaths in late fall, and are blooming now. Last year my big mother plant was on this schedule and had about 6 blooms at this time, and then produced a handful of blooms throughout the summer with no waiting period for the sheaths. It set about 4 sheaths last fall, which are all blasting now. I ran the GH about 7 degrees F warmer this winter for the mastersianum. However a 20+ growth division of my mother plant is right on schedule with 3 spikes (thats what this photo is from). It's only a couple of feet away from the mother plant, and away from the GH wall. So its probably a hair warmer and a tad less light. Also as far as flower color goes, it depends on the age of the flower. I've had the spring flowers last for months, but they get paler as they go. The summer/fall flowers only lasted about a month.
The range of hirsutisimum is so huge that I can't imagine why there wouldn't be allot more variation than we see. Having extra hairs would help with late frosts so it wouldn't surprise me to see large lowland versions with low hair and upland versions with more hair, and almost all levels in between.
Nice points made with seems to be solid logic With taking all that into account there must only be one species with variation regulated by the environment. But what about the plants themselves? Please re-read my earlier post about the leaves, Thanks
PS Just noticed leaves in the background of your ovary PIC. Is that hirsutissimum?
Over the course of adding hardware to my GH I've seen some pretty profound changes in individual plants I've had over the years. The hirsutisimum I've had since 2002. At that time the GH was much dryer with cooler winters and more light. The plant was much more compact and paler with stiffer leaves. As I've increased humidity and cut down light the leaves have almost doubled in length, are softer and a bit darker. (Actually the leaves in the background are sangii leaves).
There is a genetic component to "clinal variation" that can actually cause enough isolation and inbreeding to the point where local populations of these species have only limited capacity to change to differing environmental conditions. I think that wilhelminea vs glandluliferum is an example of clinal variants that have been isolated and inbred enough to incorporate a truly genetic basis for the dwarfism we see in wilhelm that doesn't go away with different GH conditions. I think hirsutisimum is a much smearier case and there are probably genetically cold and warm tolerant populations, but I don't think that Eskimos are considered a different "variant" of Homo sapiens from African Bushmen, and the differences are probably more obvious.
My second P. hirsutissimum opened this week and it sure looks different then the first, it's smaller and darker then the first. I bought this one at a society auction it's just tagged Paph. hirsutissimum, one of them could be P. esquiroeli I wouldn't know, the first pics are the old plant the second set are the new one. Thanks for looking. Jim.