Phalaenopsis Miki Crown ‘16’ HCC/AOS

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Scholar, Addict and Aficionado of Orchidacea
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Feb 1, 2019
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This past weekend at the Quebec City Orchid Show we awarded a harlequin Phalaenopsis that had a really cool pattern. Yellow base with dark magenta picotee and spots/blushing.

It received a HCC of 77 points because of low flower count (5 vs 12 expected) and form (lower sepals too horizontally, best vertically).


The big question is this: should mericlones get AOS awards?
Oh, this will be very thought provoking!
I immediately thought of Vulstekeara (sp.?) Cambria. This is some 40 years ago but Cambria ‘Plush’ was highly thought of and awarded. It was a mericlone.
A ‘sport’ from that mericloning, ‘Lansings Favorite’ was also awarded. So that would be two awards to the same mericlone. Plush was a large red and white flower in the Oncidium Alliance. Lansing’s Favorite was basically a white flower with red and or pink markings.
So I would have to say YES, mericlones can be awarded.

I just looked this up and although they are similar flowers, there are noticeable differences.
Good points. A mutation of a mericlone is treated as new from the normal population. And usually awarded if good. In this case, it’s similar to the general population. So in this case, would you?
I have to be completely honest in that if the candidate bore a striking similar look to the awarded mericlone, I would not award it!
It is, or can be, a fine line for us to walk as judges.
It has happened to me before a few times, maybe five or six that I can remember where in my mind, a very suspicious plant/ mericlone came before my team at judging. One such instance was a Cattleya plant with just George King on the label. It probably was Rlc. on the label too. We all suspected it to be the awarded clone ‘Serendipity’.
Now we are not supposed to let that influence us unless we are 100% sure. Can we be 100% sure? Really? How would we prove it?

We could send it to a Cattleya Taxonomic Authority and hold it as a provisional award, but could they say with complete certainty it was Serendipity? I do not know about that either.

Outcome: we discussed it further and we all felt that the fact that the clonal name was missing, on purpose or not, was a negative point against the plant. It was a lively 10-15 minute discussion and we passed on the plant. The measurements were very close to the awarded plant.
But hey, that was very awkward!!!
In that case, your team most likely did the right thing. If it bore too much similarities with an awarded cultivar and not different/better, then the best option is to pass.

In this case of Miki Crown, no previous award has been given.
mericlones have certainly been awarded in the past, the famous Rlc. Oconee 'Mendenhall' I believe got its initial award years ago on a mericloned plant. Of course then what would be considered the "original", the original original or the awarded 'original'? which theoretically should be identical, but often of course is not...more recently I was told that the awarded plant of the wonderful Rlc. Taida Eagle Eye 'White Angel' FCC was a mericlone.
Of course mericlones should be awarded. Most mericlones exist because of their superior quality and genetic characteristics, and are very often cloned only after and because they are awarded. The problem with mericlones arises when a plant owner is unsure or does not know their plant is a mericlone with a clonal name and submits it to judging with a different clonal name as if the plant is the result of a seed cross. This is one reason why award results can be challenged. One of my proud moments came when I received an AM on Cattleya Mem. Robert Strait 'Blues' a mericlone by Carmela that had been around for over a decade and had not been awarded. Getting that clone flowering with five flowers with superior arrangement on one inflorescence was very satisfying and made others aware of the clone itself. Cheers.


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Sorry but I do not agree. We are talking about a plant that came before a judging team, some grex not previously awarded.
What we do, or what I do as a team member is to take a look at both parents of this unawarded grex. We look at the pod parents history, including awards. We do the same for the pollen parent. We look at flower count and size of the flowers. We look at size by figuring out the geometric mean featuring the sizes of both parents. If the hybrid comes close to that mean, that is a point in its favor. We do the same thing for flower form. As Leslie said, the award was a 77 point HCC, primarily due to low flower count, 5 versus the expected 12.
So let us say, I would have scored it an 81 or an AM flower BUT I took off a few points for the lower flower count. That comes under floriferousness on the AOS score sheet. If the form is good, size is acceptable, markings are clear, no real 'windowing', it got awarded. I understand it completely. This lower flower count is not considered a "fatal flaw".
Now let me say that with standard Cattleyas, that is not the case. If we look at an unawarded grex with both parents being awarded and to carry at least 2 flowers, AND THE CANDIDATE HAS JUST ONE, that could be a fatal flaw. Most judges will not award a Cattleya with a single flower. (Species maybe, hybrid no.)
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The big question is this: should mericlones get AOS awards?

I don't see any reason mericlones should have a blanket exclusion from the judging system, though it does open the door to the problem of one clone being awarded multiple times under different names. I believe that discussion has been had here before with no real resolution given the difficulty of proving beyond a doubt that a particular plant on the judging table is truly a clone and not a similar sibling to a prior awarded plant.

I will say that I'm a bit surprised that particular plant was awarded, granted I wasn't there for the discussion and only have one snapshot to go on but it looks to be a rather generic, poorly shaped mass market type plant.