Paph Maudiae, Alma Gevaert, Emerald, and Clair de Lune

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Nov 29, 2008
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Bloomington, MN
This is a current blooming of Paph Maudiae ‘Bankhaus’ purchased about 5 years ago as a division from Jerry Fischer at Orchids Limited. Jerry was confident that he could track the division reliably to the plant owned by the du Pont family in the 1940s at Longwood Gardens. The natural spread of the petals is 13.5 cm and the dorsal is 7.5 cm. The size of the flower and thickness of the leaves of this plant support the supposed polyploid nature of Bankhaus.

I don’t want to start another discussion about whether Maudiae ‘Bankhaus’ is the same clone as the later awarded “The Queen” because I think we all realize that clones can get mixed up over time and place. I also don’t want to try and compare Maudiae ‘Bankhaus/The Queen” with Alma Gevaert ‘Madame Maurice Martens’ or Clair de Lune ‘Edgard van Belle’ - they are all wonderful, probably polyploid hybrids and I wish I had one of each. Growing conditions affect how each of these plants and their flowers appear so it is hard to compare any two pictures from plants in different growing conditions.

What I found interesting was a little history into this group of hybrids and the du Pont family who were very important for the development of orchids in the United States.

1. Paph lawrenceanum was first described in 1878 and was found on the north coast of Borneo. I don’t know if the coloratum and albinistic forma hyeanum types were found at the same time.

2. Paph callosum was described in 1886 and was native to Borneo but also up into Thailand and Cambodia. There are four varieties and forms of callosum described, but the albinistic one of interest here was earlier called callosum variety sanderae but currently seems to be called callosum forma viridiflorum.

3. The cross of callosum x lawrenceanum was registered as Paph Maudiae in 1900 by Charlesworth Ltd in England. I recently read (without clear reference) that the original cross was with albinistic parents, creating what is commonly, but maybe incorrectly, called Maudiae album.

4. Paph Alma Gevaert was a backcross of lawrenceanum and Maudiae, registered by Pauwels in 1911. It seems likely that this was also an albinistic cross from the beginning, using lawrenceanum forma hyeanum.

5. Paph Emerald was a cross of a different species onto Maudiae. I find uncertainty about whether this species should be called curtisii or superbiens var. curtisii. Emerald was registered by Cookson in 1920. Probably the cross was albinistic, using superbiens var. curtisii var. sanderae.

6. Finally, Paph Clair de Lune was registered by Sanders [St. Albans] in 1927 and was Emerald x Alma Gevaert. I have to assume that by this time only albinistic versions of Emerald and Alma Gevaert were used.

Pierre du Pont (1870-1954) was extremely successful in business and was also a strong philanthropist. He and his wife Alice (1872-1944) had a strong interest in horticulture and lived at what would become Longwood Gardens in Pennsylvania, which was eventually gifted to the public and is still one of the finest gardens in the country. In 1922, 12 Cattleya orchids were gifted to Alice, but they all seem to have died. Rather than give up, Alice and Pierre eventually became orchid experts and 2 of the founding 100 members of the American Orchid Society, of which Alice was vice president for a number of years. Longwood then developed a considerable orchid collection, supervised by Louis Jacoby for many years. Maudiae ‘Bankhaus’ was in the collection and apparently awarded before Alice’s death in 1944. In 1948, another member of the du Pont family gifted 2,314 orchids to Longwood, and with the orchids came Bruce Scott, an outstanding orchid grower, to supervise the entire collection. Another du Pont family member made an additional large gift of orchids in 2001. Today Longwood is said to have at least 9,000 orchids in the collection and an extensive library of orchid books, as well as notes from Louis Jacoby and Bruce Scott.

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