The Journal of the Canadian Orchid Congress
Le Journal de la Fédération Canadienne des Sociétés Orchidophiles

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The Canada Issue - August 1994
Volume 6 - Number 3

Editor: Malcolm Adams


C.O.C. President's Message

The Canadian Orchid Congress meeting in Winnipeg brought about a number of changes to the COC. And I am surprised as anyone to be the one writing the President's message. There are three new executive members and new committee chairs. You'll find the new executive list elsewhere in this newsletter. I hope that the new executive can live up to your expectations. With the strong teams on the executive and in the committees I am confident that we can.


Let me extend a big thanks to the Manitoba Orchid Society for the fine convention they hosted. While it was their first AOS show, they handled it smoothly and with style and confidence. One would have never known that Roswitha Nowak and her team had to scramble to find a new location at the eleventh hour. And what a dazzling display of orchids! I never imagined that Winnipeg had such a good climate for Phalaenopsis! Winnipeg's success gives hope to all of us who have never hosted a COC Convention or an AOS show.

Speaking of the COC convention, the enthusiasm of the next host, the Alberta Orchid Society is contagious! Not only did the Edmonton club put together a fantastic display, (how did Gordon Heaps get that Cymbidium in a van anyway?) but they also did a great job promoting the 1995 Convention with an information booth, T-shirts and flyers. Like so many others, I'm already looking forward to June 1995.


I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Past President of the Congress, Annette Bagby, for enormous amount of work she has done in the past year - handling the COC business and visiting societies from coast to coast. I'd also like to thank the retiring executive members, our past secretary, Annie Cairns and past treasurer, Marjorie Disher. They have left big gaps to fill. And thank you to all those who served on non-executive positions, especially the committee chairs - Bill Kwan, Malcolm Adams, Howard Ginsberg, Gordon Heaps, Marilyn Light and Ken Girard. You did the bulk of the work without recognition.


One of the values held by past executives of the Canadian Orchid Congress was that of service to the member societies. This is a value that we want to preserve. But there will be some challenges this year. One of the most appreciated services is the Canadian Orchid Congress fall speaker tour. The team that planned past tours had asked for a well deserved year off. But the need for advanced planning for the fall tour was not appreciated enough. Something that I didn!t realize was the team of Howard Ginsberg, Dwayne Klobias and Terry Kennedy had to start planning a year in advance of tour and had to confirm arrangements in January. To find a good speaker willing to invest plants, catalogues and time is not easy. We have been scrambling to find an alternative but without success. The good news is that the experienced team is willing to take on the project for the fall of 1995.


One of the new traditions started by Annette Bagby that we would like to continue is the regional contributions to the COC Newsletter. We would like to have each issue featare a different region. Here's the proposed schedule:

Please try to make this work. Make a special effort to get articles to Malcolm Adams, the newsletter editor, for the issue in your region. Let's showcase our regional interests in the COC newsletter.


A new project set for this year is to obtain charitable status for the COC. We anticipate that this may help not only the World Orchid Congress in 1999 but also other functions. Howard Ginsberg has kindly consented to lead this initiative. With any luck Canadian orchid hobbyists will be able to make tax deductible donations to the COC, just as Americans make donations to the AOS.


By our constitution and by-laws of the Canadian Orchid Congress, we are obliged to provide services in French and English. My French is not good, but with the help of my wife we should be able to handle correspondence en francais.


Time and again we have said that we need to improve communications in the COC. It's a big country and we're spread thin. You can contact me through the traditional means - telephone or mail. I have a fax at work. And my wife and I are avid users of Internet, the electronic highway. All the numbers and addresses are listed at the end of this message.

The list of executive members and the committee chairs is also listed along with their addresses and telephone numbers.


Despite being shell shocked at the elections in Winnipeg, we have a good team and have initiated planning. Initiatives are being undertaken by the Conservation and Education Committees. More on that later this year.


Finally, please remember to renew your club's membership to the COC. The dues are $1.00 per membership in your club. By supporting the COC we can continue to have a national presence for our hobby.

Steve Saunders, President, Canadian Orchid Congress


It seems like every news program you listen to today has a clip on the Information Highway. But how does it affect us? Are there orchids on the Information highway? Indeed there are - electronically speaking - with orchid hobbyists from around the world connected.

Canada is such a big sprawling country with a small population. It's little wonder then that there are many Canadians including Canadian orchid lovers on the highway; and if you stop at the appropriate place, you can smell the flowers, even orchids!

Books have been written on the information technology. We can't hope to cover all the details here, but what we can do is provide directions to the highway off ramps that lead to areas of orchid interest.

How does an information highway work? Computers can be connected to other computers over a regular telephone line using a "modem' short for Modulator/Demodulator - a wonderful device that can convert digital computer data to analog telephone signals and vice versa. This is particularly useful when your small desktop computer can connect to a large 'host' computer with all sorts of information.


One of the first significant, and perhaps still the best, public information providers is CompuServe. It has many "Forums' in which participants can share common interests. One of these Forums is the Gardening Forum which has a section devoted to Houseplants (section 12) - and at least half the messages deal with orchids. There have been some notable orchid hobbyists connected with the gardening forum on CompuServe, judywhite, Patsy Weber - and the AOS Information Department's Bruce Ide.

Bruce has been very helpful, responding quickly to questions both technical and AOS oriented. There's part of the bulletin board that facilitates messages and discussions and another part that has a library of articles and graphics that can be "downloaded" to your computer. The articles can be manipulated with standard word processing packages. This feature is useful to newsletter editors who can reprint articles without retyping them.

While CompuServe is well organized and glossy, it is also expensive. It's not too expensive in major Canadian cities where there are CompuServe nodes (local telephone lines that connect you directly to CompuServe), but outside those cities it costs more. The least expensive way to connect is through DATAPAC. But even through DATAPAC the cost runs around $20 per hour. Too rich for my blood, at least for daily use.

You can learn about CompuServe connections and purchase a subscription at your local computer store. Once you are connected to CompuServe you simply type GO GARDENING at any prompt and you arrive at the gardening forum.


More recently 'Internet' and 'Bitnet' have come into being. Internet is really a cooperative global network of computers with no owner. Government, university, college and private corporation computers are linked together. Some have described this system as a project designed by graduate students in a pub. And it's not far from it. Unlike CompuServe, it is not neatly laid out. It's like travelling a highway where each province or state has slightly different signs and traffic rules, and each city, town and village is also a bit different. It can be both confusing and interesting.

Fortunately, there is uniformity on Internet's electronic mail (e-mail) system. Within the e-mail system there are 'lists', which are forums that allow people with common interests to mail messages to a particular list. The messages are bounced back to the subscribers for all to read. This generates a "discussion" much like a question and answer session at an orchid meeting. The Orchid List Digest is such a list and is easy to use. Founded and coordinated by Willis Dair in California the Orchid List Digest now has over 500 subscribers from every continent and still growing. The greatest number of subscribers come from the USA.

Discussions on the Orchid List Digest are not moderated. You can post a question, statement or announcement, and you'll get responses. Some responses are posted on the list while some could be sent to you by private e-mail. If you have a special problem, there's probably someone on the Orchid List Digest, in some part of the world, who will express their idea on how to solve it. The orchid discussions on the Orchid List Digest tend to be a little more technical than the Gardening forum on CompuServe.

To subscribe to the orchids list digest, send an electronic mail message to MAILSERV@SCUACC.SCU.EDU (Internet), or MAILSERV@SCU (BITNET).

In the body of the message type the line SUBSCRIBE ORCHIDS. An e-mail message of all posted messages will appear in your mail box each day, like magic. You can capture them in your computer, read them off-line, and manipulate them with your word-processor.

To unsubscribe from the orchids list, send an electronic mail message to MAILSERV@SCUACC.SCU.EDU (Internet), or MAILSERV@SCU (BITNET). In the body ofthe message type the line UNSUBSCRIBE ORCHIDS To send contributions to the orchids list, send an electronic mail message to ORCHIDS@SCUACC.SCU.EDU (Internet) or ORCHIDS@SCU (BIT- NET).

It is fantastic to have the Orchid List Digest on INTERNET because it can be accessed by subscribers of other systems that do not have full -access to INTERNET. This can be done through e-mail. For example you can subscribe to the Orchid List Digest through CompuServe's email system "EASYPLEX". Conversely, all the orchid hobbyists on CompuServe can be contacted through the Internet E-mail system.

E-mail can be exchanged privately, and I have had many private conversations with Canadian orchid people. Marilyn Light our Conservation Chairman in Ottawa, Peter Poot a COC past president, Ross Otto, President of the Alberta Orchid Society, Bob Betts, President of the London Orchid Society are among the many notable Canadian hobbyists who are connected, and who you could correspond with. And there had been another Canadian Connection - Wil and Ruth Ann Moger of the Orchid Society of Nova Scotia coordinated the digest while Willis Dair took an extended holiday.

Brand new on INTERNET is another forum, for orchid discussion, in the "NEWS" or USENET of INTERNET called "rec.gardens.orchids'. The "NEWS" section cannot be accessed through electronic mail, so you can't access it through other carriers such as CompuServe (yet). You must be an INTERNET subscriber to enjoy it.

There are other sources of information for orchid growers which can be accessed through INTERNET. These include parts of the Smithsonian Botanical Library, the Australian Botanical Gardens, botany NEWS, various gardening and horticultural listservers, the magazine GrowingEdge, and much more.

One of the nice things about Internet is it's much cheaper than other services. I subscribe to it at $1.00 per hour - but must buy $25.00 worth a month. A lot easier on my budget.

Getting connected to INTERNET is easy if you have access through work; most universities and many government departments are connected. Some corporations are connected also. But if you can't access INTERNET through work, there are other ways. It depends on where you live. One of the best references for getting connected to Internet is the "Canadian INTERNET Handbook - 1994 Edition" by Jim Carroll and Rick Broadhead available in nearly all book stores across Canada. Appendix A in this book lists Canadian Internet Service Providers, province by province, including some of the FreeNet (yes free) services. The book is a good investment if you are at all serious about getting connected to INTERNET.

There are other information sources that can be accessed by modem, I have only introduced you to the two most commonly used here.

If you're interested in getting connected, I would be pleased to talk to you. Or, if you are on-line and think we can help, send Steve Saunders a message at my Internet address ssaunder @ or CompuServe at 74370,146 or Ruth Ann Moger at her Internet address wmoger @

Steve Saunders, Orchid Society of Nova Scotia


Plant Name:

Flowering Period:


Growing Media:

Light Requirements:



Fertilizing Program:

Fertilizing Program After Cold Bud Set (Sept. 30):


General Culture:

Insect Problems:

Disease Problems:

Trouble Shooting:

Jim McIvar, Muttart Conservatory, Edmonton, Alberta

Success With Brassia verrucosa

Spider orchids are intriguing. When in flower they are conversation stoppers. Some flowers can be 8" long. A single spike may have 12 - 15 flowers. Large specimen plants may have 300 flowers. What a show! After years of failure and the loss of several plants, I gave my last pot of Brassia verrucosa one last chance to flower. After talking very seriously to the plant, carefully explaining that the next stop was the garbage, I tried a new procedure on growing Spider Orchids. Success! What a show every year for the last three years in April.

Here's how I have had success with my plant.

General conditions:

Scheduling to flower:

Please note that the cool temperatures will govern the flowering time. For example, if you extend the cool temperature period then flowering will be delayed.

Very important! A plant grown cool will not need as much water as a warm grown plant. Solve over watering by using 100% charcoal. It holds very little water.

Divide the plant if necessary after flowering and new pseudobulb is just visible.

Gordon Heaps, Orchid Society of Alberta

Big Beautiful Butterflies

Oncidium papilio, and the three species similar to it, namely, Onc. kramerianum, Onc. sanderae, and Onc. versteegianum, have been placed by some botanists in a section of the genus known as Glanduigera. This section was originally established by Lindley in 1855. Recently, a separate genus, Psychopsis, has been suggested for this group.

The late W.W.G. Moir stated that the four species are merely variants of a single entity that have developed in different environments. He wanted the genus to be called Papiliopsis.

All four species are distinguished by attractively mottled, leathery leaves atop tightly clustered, flattened, oval, pseudobulbs. The inflorescences can be from 20cm. to 1.5m. tall. The flowers are very long lasting, blooming successively over a period of many years. Individual flowers last about ten days. One of my Onc. papilio plants had nine year old spikes still producing flowers.

The first Psychopsis to be cultivated were sent to England by the Governor of Trinidad. The Duke of Devonshire was so entranced by a flowering plant of Onc. papilio in 1825 that he formed one of the greatest orchid collections of his time. His growers were among the first to change the steamy hothouse conditions in which orchids were grown, to environments with fresh air and lower temperatures.


In general the temperature and light requirements are similar to those of Cattleyas; that is good light, (south window or greenhouse) and intermediate temperatures. Fluorescent light setups work well for seedlings but do not provide enough intensity for mature plants to flower.

Butterfly oncidiums are subject to a few special problems which require more careful attention to correct culture. They seem to be very tasty to almost any kind of pest. Snails and sowbugs love the green root tips and will crawl over a ton of cattleyas to get the oncidium. I put some of my plants outside in the summer and found grasshoppers eating the new shoots. Mature growths are seldom damaged.

Developing growths are also susceptible to bacterial and fungal rots, therefore good air circulation is a must. Be careful with watering so that the plants are not wet at night or during cool cloudy periods. Paradoxically, these oncidiums do require lots of water to really thrive. Ideal growing conditions would allow them to be thoroughly soaked every day, and be almost dry by night time. This can be achieved in a sunny location with a fan providing air circulation.

Repotting should be done carefully to avoid injury to new growth. I usually wait until a plant has hardened off all the new pseudobulbs before repotting. Cinnamon works well as an antiseptic for dusting any accidental damage. Use a potting medium that will dry out in a day or so under your conditions.


Oncidium papilio has a widespread distribution in Trinidad, Venezuela, Columbia, Equador, and Peru, usually growing as an epiphyte at lower elevations of mountain rain forests. It is distinguished by a flower stem that is flat near the top, and column wings that are slightly serrated. I have found it to be the easiest to grow of the species. Oncidium kramerianum is native to Costa Rica, Panama, Ecuador, and Peru at 300 to 1000 m. altitude. Its flowers are more ruffled and wavy than those of Onc. papilio, with the markings being spots rather than bars. The flower stem is entirely rounded, with prominent nodes, and the column wings are almost without serrations. It is slightly harder to grow than Onc. papilio, requiring somewhat more shade and humidity.

Oncidium sanderae is similar to Onc. papilio in its flower appearance and flattened flower stem. The comb shaped column wings are beautifully fringed, making it distinct from the other species. Oncidium versteegianum is similar to a miniature papilio, and is not regarded as a separate species by some taxonomists.


Many hybrids have been made within the species of this group, and they are often difficult to distinguish from the species. The primaries are Onc. Kalihi (papilio x kramerianum), Onc. Butterfly (papilio x sanderae), and Onc. Jungle Monarch (sanderae x kramerianum). Onc. versteegianum hybrids have not been registered yet. Numerous secondary hybrids have also been made.

I have made the crosses Onc. Butterfly and Onc. Kalihi with my plants, as well as a sib. cross of Onc. papilio. Onc. Butterfly is the most vigorous with four year old plants already in bloom. The most successful medium for germination and growth of seedlings has been a product called Phytamax Orchid Maintenance Medium from Sigma Chemicals. I add one half a banana per liter of medium.

When crossed with non-psychopsis oncidiums and other genera, the distinctive shape and orange colour are often lost, and the hybrids are sterile. The successive blooming habit is also lost. My crosses of Onc. papilio x Onc. forbesii, Onc. papilio x Onc. limmingei, and Onc. papilio x Brassia Rex never grew beyond 3 cm tall and many plants were twisted and deformed.

The cross of Onc. papilio x Rossioglossum williamsianum is six years old with some plants 10 to 15 cm. tall. They are not as vigorous as the primary hybrids and none have bloomed. In appearance they are like Rsam. williamsianum with slight mottling on the foliage.


Eleanor Sweny - Ottawa Orchid Society.

Eleanor Sweny owns and operates Northern Ridge Orchids in Manotick, near Ottawa. Eleanor has won a number of AOS awards with her plants, one of them, a cultural award for an oncidium in the butterfly group.

Fragrance Competition at the Ottawa Show

Our first ever fragrance competition was a great success. There were 14 entries ranging from Cattleyas through various Phalaenopsis hybrids to Sedirea japonica and Jumellea sagitta. The flowers were judged on two occasions, morning and evening, and by both a horticultural judge (with training in rose fragrance judging) and by a professional perfumer (with over ten years experience working with perfume fragrance). The flowers were isolated from the surround using either a plexiglass cylinder or a plexiglass box. Fragrance was judged on INTENSITY, CHARACTER and FRESHNESS. Each was rated on a scale of 1 to 5.

First prize went to Sedirea (formerly Aerides) japonica, described by the judges as having a fresh light fragrance of citrus, lily, narcissus. Second prize went to evening-scented Jumellea sagitta. It was described as spicy floral with notes of jasmine, hyacinth and Bulgarian rose. The judges also remarked that it was a winner in small doses but could become overwhelming. C. Drumbeat "Heritage" came third overall with a floral, woodsy scent reminiscent of lily-of-the-valley and hyacinth. Show visitors were able to sample the individual flower fragrances at 'nose' level and come to their own conclusions. Show Chairman Dave Cooper, designed and built the exhibit. Judging guidelines are available.

Marilyn Light, Ottawa Orchid Society

Hi, Calypso, I'll sing you a story....

There are several very showy and appealing native orchids in Canada. But, to my mind, the most fabulous one is a rather small sized pink orchid; Calypso bulbosa. This orchid grows all through the northern hemisphere; it is quite variable in appearance, but scientists have agreed that there is only ONE calypso orchid.

The name goes back to ancient Greece; The beautiful, wise and charming nymph Calypso lived hidden, in solitude, on a lovely island, on which Odysseus arrived after being shipwrecked by Poseidon. The goddess tried for seven years to make Odysseus stay, but eventually he left her.

In Europe, at the time when the calypso orchids bloom, you can go on a special journey to the land of the midnight sun to try to find those elusive flowers; you may take a picture but no-one is allowed to touch, pick or dig them up! The traveller stands in reverence before these orchids and keeps the memory of this romantic trip into the Northern Forest deep and forever in his heart. Here in Canada, we are very fortunate to be able to see these beauties almost anywhere in the woodlands. But they do not live very long in captivity - a few years, it is said, and then the little plant dies. Perhaps we should do as the Europeans and let them stay hidden, in their little islands of wilderness.

Calypso bulbosa has an underground corm and in late summer a small, pleated round leaf grows from this storage organ. This bright green leaf stays on during the winter and the flower emerges in late spring, about May. In the heat of summer the whole plant is dormant and you won't find a trace of it; "calypso" means "the hidden one". Very often the plants grow in tall grass, under pine trees and among shrubs in very light shade.

The flower stalk can be from 2" to 8", the (usually) single blossom is about 2" long, the pouch-shaped lip has a heavy golden crest and the rest of the flower can be in different shades of pink, rarely white. Calypso orchids have a charming and quite pronounced fragrance - another compliment to the famous namesake?

Ingrid Ostrander, Victoria Orchid Society

Officers of the Canadian Orchid Congress

President - Steve Saunders
Past President - Annette Bagby
Vice-President - Gordon Heaps
Treasurer - Kay Morphy
Secretary - Pat Snow-Miller

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