Edward Sprague Rand.

Orchids; a description of the species and varieties grown at Glen Ridge, near Boston, with lists and descriptions of other desirable kinds : preface by chapters on the culture, propagation, collection, and hybridization of orchids; the online

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Online LibraryEdward Sprague RandOrchids; a description of the species and varieties grown at Glen Ridge, near Boston, with lists and descriptions of other desirable kinds : preface by chapters on the culture, propagation, collection, and hybridization of orchids; the → online text (page 2 of 25)
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species grow in company with ferns ; and the thicker the
forest, the more stately the trees, the richer and blacker
the natural soil, the more profuse the Orchidaceae and
ferns upon them. There they flourish by the sides of
dripping springs, in deep shady recesses, in inconceivable
quantity, and with an astonishing degree of luxuriance.

We should, however, err, did we suppose that the prin-
cipal haunts of Orchids are the deep shady woods ; it is
even probable that just the contrary is the fact, and that
the cases just cited are extreme.


Orchids are chiefly found on the borders of the forests
or in the open glades or savannas ; it is seldom they are
met with in the primitive forests.

They are very abundant in Brazil, near Rio Janeiro, in
Mexico, in Colombia, in Trinidad, especially in moun-
tainous places and damp woods. In the East Indies, in
Java, Ceylon, Nepaul, and China, where they are princi-
pally found in the woods, on the borders of rivers and
mountain streams. The localities of Orchids are very
marked ; of some species only a single habitat is known ;
many are exceedingly rare, some only being known to
botany by a single dried specimen in a herbarium, and
others once known in our hot-houses are now lost to cul-
tivation ; some species now in cultivation have sprung
from a single imported plant. The Orchids of the East-
ern and Western hemispheres are entirely different, there
being no affinity between them. Orchids are also most
capricious in their locations j sometimes a river may be
ascended for miles and not an Orchid be seen, when on a
sudden turn of the stream every tree becomes covered
with them. The part of the tree on which they live is
also uncertain ; some are found close to the ground,
others a few feet high, others on the forks of the trunk
and branches, some only on the trunk, others only on
the branches, and many only on the topmost branches
of the loftiest trees, so high that they are only discover-
able by their delicious perfume.

Some varieties will only thrive when grown on the lower
side of a block, their native growth being on the under
side of a branch. Of these the fine yellow Cattleya (C.
citrind) is our most familiar example.

Where they find a congenial home, they grow to im-


mense size, increasing by the pseudo-bulbs in every di-
rection, and often covering a whole tree. In many cases
a large tree becomes a large bouquet of Orchids, for
many species with various colored curiously shaped flowers
are often found on the same tree.

While all the East Indian Orchids require a hot moist
temperature, many of the South American and Mexican
species will endure much cold without injury ; they are
sometimes found where the mercury at night descends
below the freezing point and where the leaves are covered
with hoar-frost ; thus the different species demand far dif-
ferent treatment, and from an ignorance of these require-
ments and peculiarities, have arisen many of the failures
which have hitherto attended their culture.

" A high mean temperature throughout the year, and a
climate either constantly humid, or at least, periodically
so, are atmospheric elements eminently favorable to the
production of these plants. All those species which
simply exist by clinging by their roots to the branches of
growing trees, and probably other species, must derive
necessarily their nourishment in a great measure, if not
entirely, from the moisture in a very elastic state that
surrounds them. And, although nature seems in general
to have provided for the scantiness of their food, by the
construction of them with a cuticle only capable of part-
ing by slow degrees with the fluid they receive by their
roots, yet it is obviously requisite that they should be so
situated as to be within reach of an abundant supply,
not only at the time when they are growing, but to a cer-
tain extent at other periods. Thus we find that the hot-
test countries if dry, and the dampest if cold, are des-
titute of them, while there is no instance of a country


both hot and damp, where they are not plentiful. It
may however be remarked, that the terrestrial Orchids
will bear a far greater degree of cold and drought than
the epiphytal species, their range is therefore much
greater, and the general remarks about Orchids must be
taken with a great degree of allowance in respect to this

Notwithstanding the high temperature of Africa, they
are unknown in the sandy deserts and parched atmos-
phere ; yet they abound in Sierre Leone, where the cli-
mate is damp and are not infrequent in the jungles at
the Cape of Good Hope.

In the West India Islands, they exist in great quanti-
ties, particularly in Jamaica and Trinidad, not however
so much on the coast as on the lower ranges of hills.

At Rio Janeiro the mean temperature is 74 3' and
much higher inland ; the woods are so damp it is impos-
sible to dry plants ; and in such situations multitudes of
Orchidaceous plants occur. In the immediate vicinity of
Buenos Ayres, however, where the mean temperature is
67 6' and the air dry, epiphytes are unknown. No
country, however, exhibits in a more striking manner
than the East Indies the necessity of a hot and damp
climate for the production of epiphytes. In the Malayan
Archipelago, the mean temperature of which is estimated
at between 77 and 78, where the atmosphere is always
very damp, they are found in profusion. In Nepaul,
they occur upon the sides of the lower mountains, where
they grow amongst clouds and constant showers, while on
the continent of India they are almost wholly unknown,
except in the mountain valleys.

In Mexico and Central America, the provinces most


prolific in Orchids are Oaxaca, Honduras, and Guate-
mala ; they are also plenty upon the Isthmus.

The conditions of Orchid growth can thus be easily
stated. In their native countries they are exposed to a
dry season, during which they rest, and to a rainy season,
when the heat is higher and the air moist nearly to satura-
tion. To grow Orchids in any perfection, their native
climate must, to a certain extent, be imitated ; that is,
they must have a period of rest in a dry and compara-
tively cool atmosphere, and during their growth and
flowering they should be exposed to a high moist tempera-
ture. As Orchids principally grow on the trunks and
branches of trees, it is important that they should be
exposed to a free current of air, and also to the light.
The plants should not, however, be exposed directly to
the sun's rays, which are apt to scorch the leaves and
wither the flowers, and some species require constant

The great heat and moisture are only necessary while
the plants are in vigorous growth, and this period should
be during spring and summer, the best period of rest
being from November till March. It should be under-
stood that it is this long season of rest which predisposes
the plant to blossom. Of course these rules of growth
and rest can only be stated in general terms. There are
certain kinds which grow uninterruptedly throughout the
year. And again, even of those which go to rest periodi-
cally on the completion of their growth, it does not
always happen that their time of rest corresponds with
that of the largest number. As we come in course to
mention the different species, their proper time of rest,
if peculiar, will be indicated.


It is not alone in the form of the flowers that the Orchi-
daceous plants differ from other members of the floral
world ; the tt hole structure of the plant is peculiar. The
roots are of four kinds. First, annual fibres, simple or
branched, of a succulent nature, incapable of extension,
and burrowing under ground, as in the genus Orchis.

Secondly, annual fleshy tubercles, round or oblong,
simple or divided, as in the various species of the same
genus ; they are always combined with the first, and ap-
pear to be intended as receptacles for matter fit for the
nourishment of the plant.

Thirdly, fleshy simple or branched perennial bodies,
much entangled, tortuous, or irregular in form, as in
Corallorhiza, or nearly simple and resembling tubers.

Fourthly, perennial round shoots, simple or a little
branched, capable of extension, protruded from the stem
into the air, adapted to adhering to other bodies, and
formed of a woody or vascular axis covered with cellular
tissue, of which the subcutaneous layer is often green and
composed of large reticulated cells.

The stem is often (as in some terrestrial species) merely
a growing point surrounded by scales, and constituting a
leaf bud when at rest, but eventually growing into a
secondary stem or branch on which the leaves and flowers
are developed. In other cases the growing point becomes
perennial, thickens, is scarred with the remains of leaves
which once grew upon it, and assumes the state of a
short, round, or ovate perennial stem or pseudo-bulb.

Or again, the rhizoma, instead of having pseudo-bulbs,
forms short stems which are terminated by one or more

The leaves are very uncertain in their appearance;


usually they are sheathing at the base, and membranous ;
but in some species they are hard stalked, articulated
with the stem, and have no trace of a sheath. Frequently
they are leathery and veinless; as frequently they are
membranous and strongly ribbed, and both these condi-
tions may occur in the same genus, as in Cypripedium.

The peculiarities of the floral leaves and organs will
more properly be noticed in treating of the classification
of Orchids ; suffice it to say that the flowers are constructed
irregularly upon the ternary type, and consist of three ex-
terior and three interior pieces, of which the exterior are
usually nearly equal, and less brightly colored than the

On account of the peculiarities of growth and structure,
so unlike other plants, it was many years before any of
these plants were successfully cultivated in England. A
few were barely kept alive, but never flowered satisfac-
torily, and their successful culture was considered impos-
sible. Within the last forty years, however, their true
nature has been understood, until at the present day they
are cultivated with success, and bloom with a luxuriance
equal to that of their native haunts. To promote this
culture, and to call attention to the more remarkably
beautiful species and varieties, is the object of this



IT had long been known from travellers that Orchid-
aceous plants, especially the epiphytal species, were
remarkable for brilliancy of color, extraordinary form,
and exquisite fragrance ; but for many years they were
only known to the horticultural world from dried speci-
mens in herbaria, where of course both color and per-
fume were lost, and often the flower itself pressed out of
shape. In time, however, a few living plants found their
way to England ; these were mostly of the hardier and
more common species, and, not receiving proper culture,
soon perished. Plants imported in good condition were
with difficulty kept alive, and never flourished. As they
came from a hot climate, they were constantly forced in
heat, no season for rest and the formation of flower buds
was given. Such treatment may be likened to keeping an
animal perpetually awake ; or keeping our forced grapes
or fruit trees in perpetual growth ; in either case, death
by exhaustion would be the result.

It may, however, be said, that in their native countries
these plants enjoy perpetual summer; this, as far as a
high temperature is concerned, is often the case, but the
rest is afforded by a decrease of atmospheric moisture
during certain seasons of the year ; and thus the force of
the argument is more apparent than real.

In fact, at the end of the last century, there were only


about a dozen poorly grown plants of this family in the
greenhouses at Kew ; from 1800 to 1815, about ten more
species were added to this little collection, and from 1815
to 1830 fifty-three new species and varieties formed, with
those we have mentioned, all the living plants of this
numerous family which we either possessed or had knowl-
edge of. Since 1830, constant additions have been made,
till to-day the number of Orchids introduced to cultiva-
tion is so great that we may safely say there is no family
of plants so rich in species and varieties.

What, then, have been the reasons which have operated
so unfavorably for the introduction and cultivation of Or-
chids ? The first and most natural was that they could
not be made to live in the climate of Europe. If any
were imported in good condition they were doubtless cul-
tivated like greenhouse plants. There being entire igno-
norance of their requirements and habits, they received
only the care ordinarily given to plants under glass.
That is, they were potted and watered in the ordinary
way, and the consequence was that few survived the ex-
periment. Cultivators knew nothing of the moist heat,
which is indispensable, or of the care necessary to be
taken for the preservation of the roots and pseudo-bulbs ;
in a word, the plants perished from a total want of all
the requisites for successful cultivation, and none cared
to repeat the experiment of their culture.

About the year 1820, Mr. Cattley, to whom is dedi-
cated the magnificent genus Cattleya, by a series of
experiments, arrived at the mode of successful culture.
His success was soon known, and many amateurs follow-
ing his example, sought to stock their hot-houses with
these beautiful plants.


Many collectors were sent, at great cost, to the East
and West Indies to procure them, and the number of rare
and valuable Orchids received from these sources was
very large.

The cultivation of Orchids was soon attempted on the
Continent ; in Belgium, Switzerland, Germany, and Rus-
sia, large houses, devoted exclusively to the cultivation of
these plants, were erected, and soon boasted rich collec-
tions. France alone manifested little interest in their
culture, the only large collection being in the Museum of
Natural History in Paris. This fact is the more remark-
able, as the French have ever maintained the highest
place in all branches of horticulture.

About 1840, many species, hitherto unknown, were im-
ported by French amateurs, and their cultivation was
attended with marked success ; this led to further impor-
tations, until at the present time the collections are as
rich as those of any country.

From the year 1820, whence we must date the progress
of Orchid culture, there has been a constant improve-
ment ; difficulties which seemed insurmountable have
been gradually overcome, till at the present day there
is no bar to perfect success, though even now there are
many disputed questions and differences among the most
successful growers, as to the best methods of growing
some species. As the same species seem to grow equally
well under opposite modes of treatment, we can only
conclude that the plants very easily adapt themselves to
culture, and are by no means as capricious as has been
supposed. In fact in the Orchid houses, these plants
have acquired a beauty, and grow with a luxuriance
wholly unknown to them in their native haunts.


Species which in the wild state yield only two or three
curious blossoms, in cultivation have been brought to
produce from twenty to thirty, and in fact many plants of
the order submit to domestication as readily as our more
common garden flowers.

There seems to be no reason why Orchid culture should
not be far more popular than at present ; already the
number of species and varieties have increased from the
thirty known in 1820, to many hundreds, and the future
opens a vast field of progress. The island of Java alone
produces over three hundred species and varieties, from
which it may be seen what immense additions may yet
be made to collections. This is the more probable, as
the Orchid growing countries have as yet been imper-
fectly explored, and when in this connection we consider
the peculiar local habits of most Orchids, we may reason-
ably look for large and rich additions to our Orchid flora.

It must not be supposed that all of these many species
are equally beautiful. While we have many which for sin-
gularity of form, richness of color, and exquisite fra-
grance, excel all productions of the floral kingdom, there
are hundreds which are attractive only to the botanist,
and of which the flowers are insignificant ; but all are *
curious and interesting.

We have said that in the general distribution of Or-
chidaceous plants, those of North America (excepting
always Mexico and the Isthmus) are wholly terrestrial ;
there is, however, one epiphyte met with in the extreme
Southern States, where a species of Epidendrum (.
conopseum) is found upon the Magnolia glanca.

There is one cause which does much to retard Orchid
culture : the cost of the plant is so great, and the expense


of culture in our climate so considerable, that it must al-
ways be confined to the rich ; indeed, at the .present time,
there are very few choice collections in the United States.
We trust, however, to be able to show that the cost of
culture may be much reduced ; and every year the plants
are becoming more plenty, and consequently cheaper.

Among those who have done much for Orchid culture,
may be mentioned, Pescatore, whose hot-houses at St.
Cloud contained one of the richest collections in Eu-
rope and whose magnificent plants have been illustrated
by the work on Orchids (bearing his name) by Linden,
which enriches some of our horticultural and private li-

In England, the sale collections of Messrs. Low of
Clapton, of Messrs. Veitch of Exeter, and Rollinson of
Tooting, and of William Bull and B. S. Williams, are
most extensive.

The Orchids of Mexico, the Isthmus, of Colombia, and
Brazil, have been chiefly brought into cultivation by the
French, while we owe most of the choice productions
of the East Indies to the enterprise of English collect-

The horticultural world owes a debt of gratitude to the
enterprise of M. Pinel of Rio Janeiro, and of M. Porte
of Bahia, through whom many of the finest Brazilian
species have been brought into cultivation ; to M. Linden
of Brussels, whose importations of Mexican Orchids
have greatly enriched our hot-houses; to Rev. C. S.
Parish, whose discoveries of East Indian Orchids have
added many new species to our collection ; and to Fred.
U. Skinner, who is worthily commemorated by some of
the most showy plants.



THE family of Orchids owes its chief peculiarities
to the following circumstances :

Firstly, The consolidation of all the sexual organs into
one common mass, called the column.

Secondly, The suppression of all the anthers, except
one, in the greater portion of the order, or two in the
tribe Cypripedetz.

Thirdly, The peculiar condition of the pollen, and the
anther which contains it.

Fourthly, The very general development of one of the
inner leaves of the perianth or petals in an excessive de-
gree, or in an unusual form.

Many botanists have devoted special attention to this
family, of whom we may mention, Bateman, Brown,
Hooker, and Paxton in England ; Brongniart and Rich-
ard in France, Linden, in Belgium, and Reichenbach in
Leipsic ; but Dr. Lindley has paid more attention to
their nomenclature and arrangement, and his classifica-
tion, which we follow, has been generally adopted.

These peculiarities of the order are in most cases very
striking, and are strongly manifested in the same flower ;
we also find the true nature of each part, indicated by
special cases of structure, occurring in different parts of
the order.

Thus in Cypripedium, not only are two lateral stamens


furnished with anthers while the central stamen is anther-
less, but the stigma and style separate from the fila-
ments nearly to the base and the triple nature of the
former is distinctly shown, together with the relation of
its lobes to the other parts of the flower.

The pollen, which has so anomalous an appearance
in its waxy or sectile state, presents the usual appearance
of that substance in Goodyera and many Neottea. And
the irregularity of the labellum disappears in such genera
as Paxtonia, Thelymitra, and some others whose flowers
are almost as regular as those of a Sisyrinchinm.

In the classification of Orchids, the most important
characters seem to reside in the pollen, which in many
is consolidated into firm waxy masses of a definite num-
ber in each species, and in others is either in its usual
loose powdery condition, or is collected in granules or
small wedges, the number of which is far too great to be

Of those with waxy pollen masses, some (Malaxetz)
are destitute of any visible organs, or means by which
the masses are brought into contact with the stigma ;
others (Epidendrece) have strap-shaped caudiculae, which
are either bent down upon the masses themselves, or
serve to hold them together, without, however, forming
any organized union with the stigma ; while the remain-
der ( Vandecz) have a caudicula, which adheres firmly to a
gland found on the upper margin of the stigma, and sep-
arating freely from that organ.

The last form is much more distinct from the two first,
than they are from each other, and it may be requisite to
combine Malaxecs with Epidendrea, or to exclude from
the former not only Acanthophippium, Ccdogyne, and Pho-


lidota, but several other genera at present referred to

The genera with powdery, granular, or sectile pollen,
cannot be classified so conveniently by modifications of
that part, but are readily divided into three natural tribes
by peculiarities in the anther.

In some (Ophrecz) the anther is erect, not hinged to
the column but continuous with it, and stands above the
stigma, the pollen masses having their points directed to
the base of the lobes of the anther.

In others (Arethusea) the anther is hinged to the col-
umn, upon the end of which it is placed transversely like
a lid.

And finally in others (Neotteoe) it is also hinged to the
column, but is placed at its back so as to be nearly par-
allel with the stigmatic surface.

If to these three we add the Cypripedea^ which has
two anthers while all the others have one only, we find
the order divided into seven tribes, of which the follow-
ing is a tabular view.

I. Anther one only.

A. Pollen masses waxy.

a. No caudicula or separable stigmatic gland.

b. A distinct caudicula, but no separable

stigmatic gland.

C. A distinct caudicula united to a deciduous
stigmatic gland.


B. Pollen powdery, granular, or sectile.

a. Anther terminal, erect.


b. Anther terminal, opercular.


c. Anther dorsal.


II. Anthers two.


From this general view of the classification of Dr.
Lindley, any cultivator can easily ascertain to which of
the tribes any Orchid which may bloom in his collection

Each of these tribes subdivides itself into a greater or
less number of species, the determination of each of
which demands a special study of individual peculiari-

The geographical distribution of these different tribes
is interesting as illustrating the remarks in former chap-

By reference to the following table we shall see that
the greater proportion of the tribes Vandecz and Epiden-
dretz are found in the Indian Archipelago and in tropical
America ; it is in these two tribes, we must remember,
that the Epiphytal Orchids mostly range themselves ; the
European and North American species being confined to
three in the former tribe, and two in the latter. On the
other hand, the terrestrial species, which are mostly found
in the tribes Ophrea, Arethusea, and Neottece, are sparsely
represented in the Indian Archipelago and tropical



North Africa.

1 1 1 > 1 N 1


Africa within the

Ov 1 O\ VO 1 1 1


Mauritius, etc.

N N CO CO ""* N '


South Africa.

i i 2 i i i

South America
beyond the Tropics.

Online LibraryEdward Sprague RandOrchids; a description of the species and varieties grown at Glen Ridge, near Boston, with lists and descriptions of other desirable kinds : preface by chapters on the culture, propagation, collection, and hybridization of orchids; the → online text (page 2 of 25)