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We are obsessed collectors of the unusual.

Posted by orchidnick z9Ca ( on
Sun, May 29, 11 at 11:37

During my last sojourn to the moist, cool, humid North, Pacifica California to be exact, where D cutherbersonii grow like Dandelions in my front yard, I bought a Dracula velutina var xanthia. It was not expensive but I would have paid extra because it is unusual and rare.

Drac velutina is normally brownish/red. The flower is neither very large nor spectacular, about 1" across, a typical small flowered Dracula. I have seen it before. Var xanthia, on the other hand, is yellow. OOOOOOH!!!!!!!!! Seldom seen in private collections, rarely offered for sale. I did not have to, but I would have paid double for this because of that.

Have any of you paid extra or jumped through hoops to get something unusual, not because it is more beautiful, but simply because is is rarely if ever seen?


Follow-Up Postings:

RE: We are obsessed collectors of the unusual.

One of the speakers at the San Francisco Orchid Society did a presentation on mimicry. One of the plants was Trichoceros parviflorus. I found I just HAD to have one. I found one listed on Andy's Orchids and, instead of having it shipped like a sane person, I called for an appointment to visit, then drove down from Napa to San Diego to get it.

Andy has a very nice facility with lots of micro climates and odd shaped growing areas. One of the staff walked me around and I bought more than just the one plant.

Andy is not set up for visitors and a casual visit or just to lookie-loo would not be appropriate for going there. But if you are going to buy something, it is worth driving to pick it up to see what he has going on.

RE: We are obsessed collectors of the unusual.

Right on, good trip. One of the things I learned from Andy the last time I was there was the utter darkness he keeps his Pleuro house. You need a flashlight to find your way around. Green algae on the roof, 3 layer of hanging plants lead to a very dark atmosphere and yet the Pleuros are thriving. I plan to significantly darken a corner of my cold GH and put the Pleuros there.


RE: We are obsessed collectors of the unusual.

I guess if I wasn't interested in unusual orchids I'd be growing the same big, crowd-pleasing Cymbidiums that make up 80% of the orchids entered into the local orchid shows (an my wife would be much happier). Most of what I grow aren't really mainstream orchids. Rarity probably isn't a major drawcard for me, although a lot of what I grow would be considered to be rare. The unusual is typically what interests me. I also like collecting examples of variation within highly variable species.

As for throwing cash at something rare, with kids and a mortgage, if I see something I love that's out of my price range, I make do without it. Fortunately, as most of the oddball botanicals I grow, have little commercial value, the rare stuff is usually not for sale. You get it via gifts and trades with people. If I have gone to any effort in sourcing rare plants it's been by growing orchids from seed myself and importing seed of orchids that aren't available in Australia (and putting up with having to ring customs when they seize seed they shouldn't have). That's just part and parcel of sourcing those types of orchids though. It's not jumping through hoops per se.

RE: We are obsessed collectors of the unusual.

The "problem" is that those big, crowd-pleasing Cymbidiums fill up 90% of the available space at the winter show and thus keep the marketing manager of the venue happy.

So the equation is no Cymbidiums = no orchid society.

But all is not lost, we have two whipper-snipper growers, a few species growers and several former purely Cymbidium growers who have seen the light.

I love the Trichoceros parviflorus pictured in the post above but i know my limitations.

RE: We are obsessed collectors of the unusual.

Hmmm...not sure if I've ever purchased something just because it's so rare. Most of the time I lament that plants on my want list aren't in greater supply. I'm definitely an obsessed collector though...but I try and narrow my scope to epiphytic species that can grow outside year around.

A couple years ago I drove all the way up to Oregon to help a friend pull Tillandsia "weeds" that were growing on everything in his greenhouse. Several months ago I helped a vendor at a show for an entire day in return for a couple divisions of two rare orchid species. Just recently I shelled out some decent money to import several flasks of hard to find species from Australia.

Arthurm, I'm curious what your limitations are for Trichoceros parviflorus? It grows great outside year around here in Southern California. I grow it alongside my Bulbophyllum shepherdii, Dockrillia linguiforme and several other succulent Australian natives. At the last Pacific Orchid Expo I picked up Trichoceros onaensis...and out of all the orchids I purchased, it was one of the very first to put out new roots. Can't remember if it put out new roots just before or just after Masdevallia amabilis.

RE: We are obsessed collectors of the unusual.

Here is an example of parallel evolution. Calochilus paludosus. Do not know if Aust Native Orchid enthuasiasts have succeeded in growing this species.

Calochilus gracillimus

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