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PHRAG

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Every now and then, someone mentions how hard it is to find a certain slipper in cultivation, or other orchid species for that matter. Just as business runs in cycles, plants come-into and go-out-of favor with breeders and therefore collectors.

I was thinking about this. With CITES regulations preventing the collection (or at least making it more subversive) of orchid species from the wild, does that mean that some species might possibly disappear from collections alltogether? Have some already? Is that a bad thing and in which cases? Which species no longer appear in any sort of sustainable wild habitat and depend on human intervention to prevent them from extinction? Does line breeding change plants enough that re-introducing them into the wild would be a bad idea in the instance that someday a species faces extinction?

Let's discuss.
 

kentuckiense

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PHRAG said:
EWith CITES regulations preventing the collection (or at least making it more subversive) of orchid species from the wild,
From what I understand, CITES only deals with the international trade of plants. Even then, countries can pick which parts of the framework they'd like to enforce. Every country has its own rules and regulations addressing the actual collecting. (from what I understand. Don't kill me if I'm wrong.)

As for the issue of reintroduction of line-bred plants:
The way I see it, the plants seen growing in nature are the results of eons of fine tuning. A single plant may be only result of a a fruit containing hundreds of thousands of seeds. That plant had what it took to survive in that environment. With line breeding, we are selecting for traits that natural selection may not have selected for. For example, huge bloom size and increased flower number could simply result in a wild plant blooming to death or not sucessfully attracting a pollinator, etc. That's not to say that reintroduction of line bred plants is a totally bad thing. If all else fails, then why not? In addition, an introduction of new genes may be the kickstart a natural population needs. However, that is still just natural succession running its course. This is quite the complicated issue.
 
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PHRAG

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This IS quite the complicated issue. It seems, at the root level (bad pun) to be tied into money and the orchid business. If a species isn't profitable to cultivate and sell, it may not stay in the sales loop for long, if it ever makes it at all.

I don't pretend to know all that much about CITES regulations, except to say that I don't like them : )

I started thinking about it more when I was reading about Angraecums. With over 200 species identified, I wondered why only a handful seemed to be available in cultivation. Were the others not as attractive to breeders and growers? Is it irresponsible to wonder what it would be like to try and grow the others, knowing that parent plants would have to be taken from the wild to get them into cultivation?

I wonder about Mexipedium too. With seven known plants in existence, and only two "clones" in cultivation, should something be done to make sure that the other plants genetic material be preserved for future use in case something happens to the colony?

I may be talking out of my butt here, and I certainly have more questions than I have answers, but I thought this could be an interesting topic.
 

Heather

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It is a fascinating topic.

Without responding, at least right now, to the CITES issues....

I have noticed just in the last two years that different things are more readily offered. Often, one has to ask the smaller vendors for unusual crosses, at least with regards to Mulits, in order to find out what's available. Norman's is a good example. True philippinense is a good example ...much harder to find lately in my experience! Two years ago Norman's had a LOT more multis available and now it is most often very common complex hybrid Phrags that are listed. At least in bloom.

I've also found, recently being ensconsed in finding a particular primary hybrid (sshhhhhh, I am NOT obsesssed!!!!!!!!), that if you ask around you will find it, but no one is listing it publicly.

Are they that rare? I don't think so. Why are people holding back?
 

slippertalker

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I will be the devils advocate on this one......

How many orchids have we already killed over the last century by inordinate collecting or habitat destruction? Collectors in the 1800's would strip all visible plants from the habitat, pack them up and put them on a ship to Europe. After a journey of a few weeks or a month they would arrive, and my guess is that most never survived, and nothing was known about growing them. Put them in a hothouse and steam them to death.....

No matter how many we kill, there will be a few that are tough enough to survive despite our efforts. Of course, the diversity will be long gone and some species will be lost before they are ever found. Many plants are never produced artificially, and many are just not commercially viable. Does that make them undesireable?

How many plants are killed by most orchid growers? I would assume that the numbers are mind numbing.....

Blame it all on CITES or government intrusion, but that is just a portion of the problem. Unlimited defoliation of the native forests will create the final solution. Of course the asteroid could hit us in 2025 and make this all just a fun discussion!
 
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PHRAG

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slippertalker said:
Of course the asteroid could hit us in 2025 and make this all just a fun discussion!
I can honestly say I never saw this discussion going that route. Though, it doesn't surprise me. : )

Anyone want to discuss what the orchids will look like a million years from now when the effects of the asteroid that hit us wear off?
 

Heather

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PHRAG said:
I can honestly say I never saw this discussion going that route. Though, it doesn't surprise me. : )

Anyone want to discuss what the orchids will look like a million years from now when the effects of the asteroid that hit us wear off?
Sure, but you have to see the Deep Jungle Episode with the Brazil Nut tree first. :poke:
 
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PHRAG

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So who is collecting plants from these areas and holding them for the sake of keeping species alive? Anyone?

And I am not talking about keeping them for breeding and sales purposes.

Is there an orchid bank?
 

kentuckiense

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Heather said:
I don't think anyone. For the most part, if places like this are clearcut, it is against CITES to harvest them for protection even. Right?
Orchids are pretty much the pandas of the plant world. Therefore, many countries have laws preventing orchid removal without special permits. If the area is being clearcut and you don't have a permit? Risk jail time or don't collect.
 
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PHRAG

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So maybe smugglers aren't all bad. : )

Maybe I should look at a career change.
 
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Mahon

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PHRAG said:
So who is collecting plants from these areas and holding them for the sake of keeping species alive? Anyone?

And I am not talking about keeping them for breeding and sales purposes.

Is there an orchid bank?
I personally am doing so with the FL natives... and re-introducing them back into habitats. Right now, I am going to be starting some Triphora ricketii seeds, and hopefully, I can keep harvesting seed year after year... this species is by no means a pretty orchid, nor are the flowers remotely interesting... but the species is a VERY rare endemic orchid to certain areas in counties in Northern Florida... :)

-Pat
 

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slippertalker said:
Blame it all on CITES or government intrusion, but that is just a portion of the problem. Unlimited defoliation of the native forests will create the final solution. Of course the asteroid could hit us in 2025 and make this all just a fun discussion!
I blame it on human greed. Every facet of life is derogated from utopia because of it. This world is dying. But then again it really sucks cause its necessary otherwise we wouldn't know what happiness is if things didn't suck so bad.

The double edged sword, life's insatiabilities. What a beautiful thing ain't it.

(**edit** thought about this in the can....figured id add it)

So it depends on the perspective. On one edge, smuggling/deforestation is the only means some people have in order to make money to feed their family, you have families dont you. On the other, people that love/care, for whatever their reason asthetic or not..whatever, the plants who wish to lengthen the natural existence for their particular reason. you love certain things dont you?. Now back to the other edge, unlimited legal collecting would allow sooner in-vitro propogation of species which would keep the species alive. And now back to the other edge, ok so if species can be kept alive in an unatural atmosphere why do we need the trees? etc...etc...etc...the debate can seesaw to either edge indefinately.....because in our own little world.....we're all right in a sense....
 

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Too.... many.... issues....

As I understand CITES, Zach's right. The treaty provides guidelines, but the signatories are responsible for its interpretation and enforcement. In order to import plants, a valid export permit from the originating country is needed. How closely this is followed and how easy it is to circumvent the rules depends on the country.

A lot of countries don't allow people to collect orchids from future logging / agricultural / etc. sites. They argue that the collectors might stray from the doomed area and use it as a cover for collecting outside the lines. This argument, to me, is insanely naive and reckless. (e.g., The US state governments make aquiring permits for collecting from future logging sites extremely difficult).

Overall, collecting is a shadow of the threat that deforestation poses.

--Stephen
 

Jon in SW Ohio

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With all the deforestation and catch 22 laws, I will never speak badly of smugglers. There are already enough species extinct in the wild because their habitat no longer exists, but thankfully anyone can get one cheap because they were brought to people who cared about them that propagated them ensuring them a future, artificial or not. I'm sure some plants have been overcollected, and supposedly that is what drove them to extinction in the wild, but that will happen despite any law due to the almighty dollar. To prevent this people would have to not like them...and I don't ever see this happening.

I would much rather see a living plant in person that hasn't been in it's home country for generations, than see it as a picture in a book of what once was.

There are of course exceptions to this. Some plants don't take to cultivation, and their existance in the wild is being supervised by caring people. To remove these plants because of greed alone would be a great shame.

I can see how this may sound contradictive, but personally it is very clear to me. I would feel no guilt growing a jungle division paph, or seedlings from a seedpod that was smuggled into the US, but would be appalled if someone dug up a Corallorhiza from a nature preserve to try to grow it in their garden.

Jon
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PHRAG

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So what specifically are the regions where cutting is destroying habitat as we speak?
 

kentuckiense

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PHRAG said:
So what specifically are the regions where cutting is destroying habitat as we speak?
Everywhere.

Any developing country.
Any developed country. Think condos in Florida.

In addition, I'd like to echo the sentiment that it's far too easy for us to pass judgement upon those that must destroy habitat for survival. Our first world consumerism is what drives a lot of third world destruction.
 

slippertalker

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PHRAG said:
So what specifically are the regions where cutting is destroying habitat as we speak?
There are large deforestations going on in practically all third world tropical countries. Central and South America (Amazon), Africa, Borneo, Malaysia, etc. the list is too long. There are some oasis' out there where the jungle is protected like Costa Rica, and some protected national parks where poaching still occurs.
Sometimes the clearcutting opens up habitat for orchids that desire open conditions, but at the cost of an entire ecosystem.
 

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