Monday, September 26, 2016

Pretty picture: Vanda Princess Mikasa

I prefer the "blue"1 version of Princess Mikasa, but they're both nice. Previously:

2013 (blue), 2014 (blue), 2015 (pink)

The tag had this identified as Ascocenda, not Vanda, but when I last checked on it, last March, the seed parent of Princess Mikasa (Royal Sapphire) had been changed from Ascocenda to Vanda, making Princess Mikasa officially also a Vanda. It's been six months, so who knows if that's still correct, but when it comes to orchid taxonomy, I feel like as long as you've been accurate once, you can call them whatever you want to. It's like the orchid-taxonomic version of once saved, always saved.

Vanda Princess Mikasa = Vanda Royal Sapphire x Vanda coerulea (Ref.)


1 The "blue" Princess Mikasa is in fact actually purple, but because certain plants like roses and petunias don't naturally produce flowers that are at all blue, and because the very unusualness of a blue rose or blue petunia would make it enormously valuable, the horticultural world has embraced the collective delusion that the closest reachable shade of purple to blue may be called "blue" for marketing purposes even if it is obviously and unambiguously purple in every other conceivable context.
This naturally leads to absurdity. Like, on patriotic holidays in the United States (e.g. Memorial Day or the 4th of July), one will frequently see for sale hanging baskets of petunias which are obviously red, white, and purple, adorned with ribbons and flags and whatnot which are obviously red, white, and blue. No one comments on it; we all just pretend that they match. In some cases, people will even go out of their way to argue with you that purple is actually blue, so strong is the desire to have a genuinely blue-flowering plant. It's all very The Emperor's New Clothes.
If genetic engineering accomplishes nothing else, my hope is that it can create actual blue flowers on plants not naturally inclined to grow them, so we can stop the travesty of horticultural blue. Hasn't happened yet (even when you can get a plant to produce the pigment naturally responsible for the true-blue color of certain flowers, it won't necessarily appear blue, because the pigment changes color depending on the pH of its environment. Which is how the genetically engineered "blue" rose linked above can produce a blue pigment and yet still appear purple: at the pH in rose petals, the pigment is purple.), but perhaps someday.
Also genetic engineering might kill off the practice of injecting blue dye into white orchids once and for all. Which I am still angry about, for the record.

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