Thursday, June 2, 2016

Pretty picture: Lysudamuloa Red Jewel

There were two different specimens of Red Jewel in the show, one with a clone name attached ("Sweet Baby") and one without. I didn't notice this until after I got home. I can't tell any difference between the photos, and wouldn't be surprised if both plants were the same clone of Red Jewel, but I'm putting them in separate posts anyway. (This is the no-name one; "Sweet Baby" will show up in November.)

I like Lycaste-type orchids as much for their foliage as for their blooms: the leaves remind me a bit of Asplundia 'Jungle Drum.' Though I see I have failed to get any particularly good pictures of the foliage for this post.

Supposedly, Lysudamuloa Red Jewel is fragrant, but for all the usual reasons (too many fragrant plants and people around to tell which is which, some orchids are only fragrant at certain times of day, or during a certain part of the bloom cycle, wind currents, nasal congestion, etc.), I cannot verify that this is the case.

Lysudamuloa is a new nothogenus, but we've seen the occasional Lycaste here in the past.

Lysudamuloa is an unusually messy and awkward name. (At least it tripped me up for a while; maybe it sings like a bird for you.) But, thinking about it, I was suddenly hit with the realization that all the nothogenus names I've run into lately have been clunky in the same way. I mean, it wasn't that long ago that I was regularly running into nothogenera that were obviously [person's name + -ara], like Aliceara, Beallara, Collierara, Goodaleara, Jackfowleara, and so on, but it feels like it's been quite a while since that happened. Now the names are all constructed in pieces from the names of the parent genera, like Prosrhyncholeya, Rhynchomyremeleya, Laeliocatanthe, Guaricattonia, and Brassocatanthe.

I suppose this has the advantage of making the ancestry clearer: a Guaricattonia is probably a hybrid of Guarianthe, Cattleya, and something else to provide the -onia (My guess was Bratonia but it turns out to be Broughtonia.1), whereas a Jackfowleara could be anything: you'd only know that it's Cattleya x Caulaelia x Laelia x Guarianthe if you happened to have already memorized the formula [Jkf. = C x Cau x L x Gur]. So maybe this is an improvement on the old system? Certainly it seems like it would be a lot easier than suddenly scrambling to find a new set of people to name nothogenera for every time there's a taxonomic earthquake in the Orchidaceae. And it would also have the advantage that if it turns out that Collier was a real asshole or something,2 you're not stuck honoring him every time you refer to a particular group of plants.

The down side being, of course, that the new nothogenera are all like six syllables long and frequently unpronounceable. (And if you think orchid vendors and exhibitors get the names wrong now, what happens when they have to start contending with stuff like Rhyncatclia, with that sneaky "L" hiding toward the end, just itching to be dropped?) And it doesn't fit the name-based older names, because some (most? all?) of them are still in use, e.g. Jackfowleara.

I don't know that there's any sensible way to fix all this, but I'm tempted to think we'd all be better off if the taxonomists had just burned the whole system to the ground and started fresh, with all-new genus, species, and nothogenus names, with an eye toward giving them names that would make for pronounceable, spellable, and logical nothogenera. Like the way the pharmaceutical companies have settled on a system for constructing generic drug names based on what they do. (If generic drug names often sound like they come from some extraterrestrial language -- e.g. vernakalant, eltrombopag, pralnacasan, etc. -- it's because they kinda are.)


References: Respect to the St. Augustine Orchid Society, and specifically member Sue Bottom, for this .pdf, which I have been referring to an awful lot lately. It only covers the name changes within the Cattleya Alliance, but those turn out to be complicated enough to require six pages of explanation.

1 I assume that when orchid taxonomists get into fights (which I'm sure they must, all the time) and Taxonomist 1 says "bring it on," Taxonomist 2 is obliged to respond, "oh, it's already been Broughtonia." [How many other blogs are going to give you an orchid-taxonomy/Bring-It-On joke, hmm?]
2 I have no idea. Maybe Collier was, like, the best guy, universally beloved by all who met him. But odds are he was a jerk at least some of the time, and to certain people more than other people.

1 comment:

Ivynettle said...

I haven't been good at following your blog lately, partly because of my own mental state, and partly, to be honest, because it became difficult to be interested in yet another Anthurium (it' just not a plant I'm interested in at all - though I always think of you when I see interesting ones, and wish I could send you one).
But then there are posts like this one, which are interesting and amusing - and it fit so well, since we were talking about nomenclature today in class, and some more afterwards.

And also I need to thank you for helping me to get the right answer to a question in class today (about very poisonous ornamental plants, and I remembered you describing Dieffenbachias as very unpleasant, and that was exactly the answer the teacher was looking for.)