Phragmipedium schlimii; A new Look at an Old Species

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FrankRC

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So much has been written and debated since the eight (8) different names formally applied to the plants known as Phrag. schlimii were consolidated back into one species. Unfortunately, may people are getting their information from second hand sources, which is part of the problem not only with the reclassification back into one species, but with the formal descriptions of many of those eight (8) names.

For those interested, the Slipper Orchid Alliance (SOA) has reprinted the original schlimii article, part one (with part two coming in next quarters newsletter). I invite everyone to not only join the SOA but to get a copy of the Fall 2023 newsletter and read what has been published and why. This is most certainly a better source of information that second hand opinions and goes directly to the reasons why schlimii is in fact, one highly variable species and not five (5) different species and three (3) natural hybrids.

I am starting this thread here to answer any questions that any member of this forum has, just keep it focused on the plants, the facts, and the information.

Additionally, seeing as the demand for the articles remains very high (and my lectures), I have received the OK from the folks at the Orchid Digest to upload the schlimii articles to the internet. I will probably do so to Academia and/or ResearchGate. When I do I will be happy to post the links here.

Best,
 
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So much has been written and debated since the eight (8) different names formally applied to the plants known as Phrag. schlimii were consolidated back into one species. Unfortunately, may people are getting their information from second hand sources, which is part of the problem not only with the reclassification back into one species, but with the formal descriptions of many of those eight (8) names.

For those interested, the Slipper Orchid Alliance (SOA) has reprinted the original schlimii article, part one (with part two coming in next quarters newsletter). I invite everyone to not only join the SOA but to get a copy of the Fall 2023 newsletter and read what has been published and why. This is most certainly a better source of information that second hand opinions and goes directly to the reasons why schlimii is in fact, one highly variable species and not five (5) different species and three (3) natural hybrids.

I am starting this thread here to answer any questions that any member of this forum has, just keep it focused on the plants, the facts, and the information.

Additionally, seeing as the demand for the articles remains very high (and my lectures), I have received the OK from the folks at the Orchid Digest to upload the schlimii articles to the internet. I will probably do so to Academia and/or ResearchGate. When I do I will be happy to post the links here.

Best,
I have read our articles, Frank, and the evidence is convincing. I just wonder why Kew has not changed things. Why is fischerii still recognized as a separate species? Until Kew changes this and all the hybrids are updated (a bit of a mess) we are kind of stuck.
 
I have read our articles, Frank, and the evidence is convincing. I just wonder why Kew has not changed things. Why is fischerii still recognized as a separate species? Until Kew changes this and all the hybrids are updated (a bit of a mess) we are kind of stuck.
Honestly, and sadly, I don't think Kew will ever update the hybrid registry. They shockingly allowed Ecuagenra to register "Zapatilla de la Virgin" (I hope I spelled that correctly) as humboltii x warszewiczianum even though no one disputes that the correct name for what we used to call walisii is indeed, warszewiczianum. There is no debate on that. Now, humboltii x wallisii, which Zapatilla de la Virgen clearly is, was first registered as Stairway to Heaven. Zapatilla de la Virgen is an invalid name as Stairway to Heaven takes precedence, something the folks at Kew never realized nor did Ecuagenera, who never lost a minutes sleep creating new names to sell. You can also find Stairway to Heaven sold as popowii x wallisii and as popowii x warszewiczianum. We need to sort through this ourselves, unfortunately, as there are more discredited names in the this genus than there are valid names, from ANYONES perspective (lets not forget longifolium once had over ten (10) names and we could, technically, register hybrids against those names all day as they were validly published).

Said simply, Kew doesn't seem to care nor do they seem inclined to even police themselves regarding a simply primary hybrid registration, so why expect more?

I am going to see Cribb next June and I will bring this up to him. Kew usually lists a name, then has a list of who accepts the name and who doesn't. They rarely remove any name, however suspect, from their website.

Best,

Frank
 
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I have read our articles, Frank, and the evidence is convincing. I just wonder why Kew has not changed things. Why is fischerii still recognized as a separate species? Until Kew changes this and all the hybrids are updated (a bit of a mess) we are kind of stuck.
As of the day prior to my consolidation, schlimii was known as:

fischeri
manzurii
x colombianum
andreettae
anguloi
x narinense
x daguense

Adding schlimii, that's eight (8) names. Now, if we subtract those names proffered by a certain Central European individual (fischeri, anguloi, x narinense and x daguense), we get a clearer view of natural realities. Andreettae does present a statistically significant sample size in natural populations (>25%). If some of us think that's enough for a species, they would need to overcome a few hard realities that I think speak against doing so, but OK, let's talk about it. Same for manzurii. Go add the ninth name I provide details of in my article (I was going to jokingly call that ninth species Phragmipedium ridiculossum but nobody would print that) and we can honestly describe a dozen more. But are they really species or new and interesting forms of something we already know and love?

Quite frankly fischeri is one of the most abysmal slipper descriptions in our lifetime. How can we accept as valid a species based on a single malformed flower that doesn't exist anywhere in reality outside the four corners of the page it was written on? The last two (2) proposed natural hybrids, and I quote the formal descriptions in my articles, accomplish little more than proving my point.

For the record, I love Phragmipedium (Paphs as well but I only have one lifetime and one body). I am rooting for the discovery of more species. Let's makes hybrids that don't all look like the same theme coming and going. Lets explore. Lets learn. But I can't rubber stamp a name that appears to exist only on paper, in the confines of a greenhouse, or someones desire to generate sales. I have given my love of these plants 25 years of my life and treasure and I will, should anyone be able to show me a stable, repeatable, taxonomic character that is not present in some degree everywhere else nor subject to ecological influence, be thrilled to publish a revision or assist in publishing a new name.

Make a case. In the three (3) years since I first published the revision and presented the evidence nobody has come back to me with stringent evidence, only a lot of ad hominem insults and summary dismissal of my conclusions without even having read the publications.

Best,
 
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As of the day prior to my consolidation, schlimii was known as:

fischeri
manzurii
x colombianum
andreettae
anguloi
x narinense
x daguense

Adding schlimii, that's eight (8) names. Now, if we subtract those names proffered by a certain Central European individual (fischeri, anguloi, x narinense and x daguense), we get a clearer view of natural realities. Andreettae does present a statistically significant sample size in natural populations (>25%). If some of us think that's enough for a species, they would need to overcome a few hard realities that I think speak against doing so, but OK, let's talk about it. Same for manzurii. Go add the ninth name I provide details of in my article (I was going to jokingly call that ninth species Phragmipedium ridiculossum but nobody would print that) and we can honestly describe a dozen more. But are they really species or new and interesting forms of something we already know and love?

Quite frankly fischeri is one of the most abysmal slipper descriptions in our lifetime. How can we accept as valid a species based on a single malformed flower that doesn't exist anywhere in reality outside the four corners of the page it was written on? The last two (2) proposed natural hybrids, and I quote the formal descriptions in my articles, accomplish little more than proving my point.

For the record, I love Phragmipedium (Paphs as well but I only have one lifetime and one body). I am rooting for the discovery of more species. Let's makes hybrids that don't all look like the same theme coming and going. Lets explore. Lets learn. But I can't rubber stamp a name that appears to exist only on paper, in the confines of a greenhouse, or someones desire to generate sales. I have given my love of these plants 25 years of my life and treasure and I will, should anyone be able to show me a stable, repeatable, taxonomic character that is not present in some degree everywhere else nor subject to ecological influence, be thrilled to publish a revision or assist in publishing a new name.

Make a case. In the three (3) years since I first published the revision and presented the evidence nobody has come back to me with stringent evidence, only a lot of ad hominem insults and summary dismissal of my conclusions without even having read the publications.

Best,
I agree with most (maybe all) of that. Never seen much difference using 'manzurii' vs schlimii that can't just be accounted for by the color of the parent. I certainly can't remember all those new names.

Fisheri does seem to breed differently than schlimii (with regard to color). But again, it isn't that surprising that color breeds through. Would certainly make hybrid names easier, we'd go from a couple hundred to a few dozen maybe. The older I get the more my brain would appreciate that..
 
I agree with most (maybe all) of that. Never seen much difference using 'manzurii' vs schlimii that can't just be accounted for by the color of the parent. I certainly can't remember all those new names.

Fisheri does seem to breed differently than schlimii (with regard to color). But again, it isn't that surprising that color breeds through. Would certainly make hybrid names easier, we'd go from a couple hundred to a few dozen maybe. The older I get the more my brain would appreciate that..
Of course darker colored flowered breed differently than paler colored flowers. We (meaning the slipper community overall) have been selecting the best clones for breeding since forever as these produce the best offspring, they make flowers that we like, and others don't. One of the things that I love about Phrags is the variability. When you get a great one, species or hybrid, you have a real treasure!
 
Have you had the genomes compared? Wouldn't that be the real determining factor in speciation? Just curious….
I have not mapped the genome of schlimii. That is a massive undertaking and very, very, very expensive. The genome of kovachii and mexipedium were/are being mapped at a major university and according to the professor leading that effort he needed 20+ pounds of vegetative material from each species. To do this correctly, not using greenhouse material, would require several hundred pounds of genetic material from populations across Colombia. I'd love to do that but I just cannot.

We do, however, know two (2) things for sure, and both are quite important. One, we do have genetic studies done on other genera of flowering plants. For those inclined to search google and have the patience to read them, they are quite telling. Also, if you have the year-end 2020 Phragmipedium issue of the Orchid Digest I quote some of those studies therein. One of those studies from 2012 found that out of 116 species of flowering plants sampled, 28% presented with more than one value of chromosome numbers. There are other studies that have come to the same conclusion. Second, what studies have been done on the genus Phragmipedium demonstrate that variations in chromosome count are the norm, not the exception, with studies showing variations in chromosome count in both besseae and schlimii (highly relevant here, as to the former, no, not v. dalessandroi v besseae).

Therefore, we can, at this time, come to no other conclusion than schlimii, like besseae and so many other species of flowering plants, exhibits genetic diversity consistent with what we can see with our naked eye (similar studies done on Paphs also came this conclusions).

If we expect the chromosomes and the genome of Phragmipedium to be absolute, I am afraid we are wrong. What will more than likely happen if such a study is undertaken, and one would need the support of the Colombian government given the scale and nature of the analysis, is that we would assemble a set of genetic variations that we see in populations ranging from Ecuador to Venezuela, aggregate those variations, put a book end around them, and say everything falling in this range is a schlimii. And I challenge, how would that be any different than what has been presented here?

Throwing a possibility, DNA analysis and a possible outcome, at a set of genetic, ecological, biological and taxonomic facts that speak strongly against multiple species is not the answer I am afraid. This was one of the first things I did, look into what we know about plant (and Phragmipedium) genetics.

Hope this helps,

Frank
 
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