Phrag. besseae discovery stories

Discussion in 'Taxonomy' started by Mahon, Oct 29, 2006.

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  1. Oct 29, 2006 #1

    Mahon

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    The first known record of Phrag. besseae was made by Cal Dodson, I believe in 1980 (the species was described by Dodson and Kuhn in 1981). A cliff side covered in red flowers was suspected by residents to be Begonias. Dodson took a closer look, and discovered that the plants were in fact a new red Phragmipedium, rather than being Begonias. The species was later found in Ecuador and I have heard rumor of it being in Columbia as well.

    -Pat
     
  2. Oct 29, 2006 #2

    PHRAG

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    This is not the story I have read of the discovery of besseae. I believe it was gathered, out of bloom, from the side of the road by Elizabeth Locke Besse. It was taken to Selby where it bloomed red. Anyone else want to confirm this?
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 29, 2006
  3. Oct 29, 2006 #3
    That's the way I always heard it - Norris Powell's "embellished" version notwithstanding. It was my understanding Ms. Besse and her cohorts thought they had found the first known specimens of Phrag. schlimii to exist on the east side of the Andes, and were totally surprised after returning to Selby when the collected specimens actually bloomed.
     
  4. Oct 30, 2006 #4

    NYEric

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    I guess it's true what they say, "Knowledge is a powerfull thing", but Pat more importantly learn this, " A little knowledge is a dangerous thing." Eric.
     
  5. Nov 4, 2006 #5

    Mahon

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    First of all, I do stand corrected... I just got off the phone with Cal Dodson, and has clarified the story to me. Harry Luther, Elizabeth (Liz) Besse, and Joe Halton did in fact find the species first in this situation; Cal Dodson rediscovered the species in nature, but in Guarumales, Ecuador.

    Whoever came up with the story of the group buying from a "vendor-farmer" is mis-informed, especially since their initial finding is a plant in situ, in bloom, and photographed. That is how the type for Phrag. besseae was determined. There is also a funny story of how Phrag. besseae was found by Liz... :)

    The first plants of Phrag. besseae were found by three people... Elizabeth Besse, Harry Luther, and Joe Halton. The plants of this red-flowering Phragmipedium were in fact in bloom along a roadside. A single herbarium specimen and pickled flower were identified as Phrag. schlimii when brought back to SEL (The Marie Selby Herbarium). Dodson was then given a photograph of the unknown taxon, and the decision was made to describe the red Phragmipedium as a new species after Liz Besse. Dodson and Kuhn described it in November of 1981... the illustration of the type for Phrag. besseae was made off an herbarium specimen that was flattened, so it had a keen resemblance to Phrag. schlimii, except that the countries of origin are incorrect. Elizabeth Besse switched the type locality for the description around with another city visited in Peru. If people were to visit the type locality on that description of Phrag. besseae, they would not find a single plant of it anywhere, as it is in the other city.

    Luther, Dalton, and Besse did not think they discovered Phrag. schlimii in Peru, as they were in Tarapoto. Phrag. schlimii is found way far north in Columbia, and I think it has also been more recently found in northern Ecuador... their herbarium specimen and accompanying pickled flower was identified as Phrag. schlimii.

    Also, they collected about 20 plants. Twelve to thirteen of the plants remained here at Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, while three plants were sold in the auction at the Orchid Ball. They went for $1,700 a piece. Another plant was given to a grower in Wyoming.

    But this is not all... Werner Hopp collected in 1921 a red flowering Phrag. schlimii in the region of Mocoa (eastern Andes), and is suspected to be Phrag. besseae. The material was bombed during the war.

    In 1960, the first confirmed sighting of Phrag. besseae was confirmed. Angel Andreeta saw from a distance a colony of Phrag. besseae in bloom. He was unable to get closer to them. The area was later searched, and Phrag. besseae is in fact located in the area he was looking at.

    Then there is Phrag. d'allesandroi, found in 1985 by Dennis D'Allesandro... this species is located in Zamora, Ecuador. Dennis unfortunately told of his site, and they were all collected by the local botanical garden. The difference between Phrag. besseae and Phrag. dallesandroi is the more yellow coloration in the petals which droop, the non-stolonous plants, two extra chromosomes, and distribution (which is the most important factor on determining Phrag. besseae from Phrag. dallesandroi). Also, this variety produces more seed pods than typical Phrag. besseae, and is suspected to be self-pollinating.

    Phrag. dallesandroi is a seperate species primarily on the fact of its distribution. The range for Phrag. dallesandroi is about 500 miles up and down Ecuador, including the population in Zamora. If it were to be a subspecies, then the distribution would be limited to a smaller area, coming out from populations of Phrag. besseae, but instead, Phrag. dallesandroi is located in the middle of the Phrag. besseae populations.

    Also, I have seen many times the mention of Phrag. besseae var. paute. I assume these are referring to the plants which come from Paute, Ecuador. The Phrag. besseae which originate from Paute are our typical Phrag. besseae, there is no difference between our common cultivated Phrag. besseae and those found in Paute, Ecuador.

    I hope this information is quite useful to you all, as it is the complete story. :)

    -Pat
     
  6. Nov 5, 2006 #6

    SlipperFan

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    Interesting. Thanks!
     
  7. Nov 5, 2006 #7

    Marco

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    dude i couldn't agree with you more!
     
  8. Nov 5, 2006 #8

    Mahon

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    :confused: :confused: :confused: HEH?
    This is a very true saying, I too agree... if we weren't talking about flowers. But since we are discussing flowers, this is irrelevant to anything going on. I never saw anyone lose their life or risk being in danger to an orchid who got offended about how they were discovered or how they were classified or identified...

    So, basically, I see this statement as unnessecary inflation of what was being discussed. And more technically, everyone who posted their story on Phrag. besseae, is incorrect. Please read the complete story I just posted. Thank you all for your time and consideration,

    -P.A. Mahon

    PS: Marco, I am unsure as to what would spur your last post on here, but if it was hard feelings about my posts at Orchid Board, I am sorry.
     
  9. Nov 5, 2006 #9

    SlipperFan

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    May be true and complete, but please tell us your sources. Thanks.
     
  10. Nov 5, 2006 #10
    He did, he claims he had just gotten off the phone with Cal Dodson and gotten the story from Cal....
     
  11. Nov 5, 2006 #11

    Mahon

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    My source is Calaway Dodson.

    -P.A. Mahon
     
  12. Nov 6, 2006 #12

    SlipperFan

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    However, is this story documented? Oral history isn't always accurate.
     
  13. Nov 6, 2006 #13

    Mahon

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    Ahh, I forgot to discuss about the Peruvian Phrag. besseae... according to Dodson, there aren't any to be found in Peru anymore... the plants from Peru were speculated to not be stolonous. This is of course not true. All Phrag. besseae are stolonous... Phrag. dallesandroi is not stolonous, but is found in Ecaudor. The Peruvian Phrag. besseae are no different from the Ecuadorian Phrag. besseae...

    I believe oral history is VERY accurate, especially when it comes from a higher source than I. Besides, yes it is written down somewhere... there are some finer points which were not written, including on how Besse, Halton, and Luther even chanced upon the plant in bloom in the bushes, because they were driving down a road... ;)

    -PM
     
  14. Nov 6, 2006 #14

    gonewild

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    So..... Written history is always accurate? I don't think so.
     
  15. Nov 6, 2006 #15

    NYEric

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    Pat, have you ever heard the statement, " Not worth dignifying with an answer"? E.L. Callender.
     
  16. Nov 6, 2006 #16

    Mahon

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    Can't say I have... but what does this pertain to the Phragmipedium besseae story? Just wondering... good quote though... :)

    -Pat
     
  17. Nov 6, 2006 #17

    kentuckiense

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    This besseae is a division of a plant that was reportedly collected in Peru and imported by Orchids Limited in 1988. Note the lack of stolons:

    [​IMG]

    And here is a shot of the bloom:

    [​IMG]

    Maybe Olaf Gruss could give us his opinion, too? I'd like to know the identity of the plant.
     
  18. Nov 6, 2006 #18

    SlipperFan

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    Perhaps not, but didn't you ever play the game where one person tells a story to another, and they in turn relay it to a third, and on and on.

    Also, sometimes memory isn't so accurate as we'd like it to be. Also, people involved in the besseae story have a lot at stake.
     
  19. Nov 6, 2006 #19

    gonewild

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    Of course oral stories change reality and become less accurate. But written documentation is no more a guarantee to accuracy either is it?
     
  20. Nov 6, 2006 #20

    Mahon

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    Zach,

    I am sorry to say that your plant is not Phrag. besseae... but I do congragulate you on your Phrag. dallesandroi... it looks as if it needs a little more water though...

    There are no more plants in Peru, it was from a single site, which is known only to a few people. Orchids Limited is not one of them, unless for some reason a leak in information occured from Besse, Halton, Luther, Dodson, or Kuhn... this can be easily be verified by Dodson and Luther.

    Nice pictures though! :)

    -Pat
     

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