About Orchids eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 193 pages of information about About Orchids.
send him some lichens.  He did so, and with the cases arrived a quantity of orchids which had been used to pack them.  Less suitable material for “dunnage” could not be found, unless we suppose that it was thrust between the boxes to keep them steady.  Paxton is the authority for this detail, which has its importance.  The orchid arriving in such humble fashion proved to be Cattleya labiata; Lindley gave it that name—­there was no need to add vera then.  He established a new genus for it, and thus preserved for all time the memory of Mr. Cattley, a great horticulturist dwelling at Barnet.  There was no ground in supposing the species rare.  A few years afterwards, in fact, Mr. Gardner, travelling in pursuit of butterflies and birds, sent home quantities of a Cattleya which he found on the precipitous sides of the Pedro Bonita range, and also on the Gavea, which our sailors call “Topsail” Mountain, or “Lord Hood’s Nose.”  These orchids passed as C. labiata for a while.  Paxton congratulated himself and the world in his Flower Garden that the stock was so greatly increased.  Those were the coaching days, when botanists had not much opportunity for comparison.  It is to be observed, also, that Gardner’s Cattleya was the nearest relative of Swainson’s;—­it is known at present as C. labiata Warneri.  The true species, however, has points unmistakable.  Some of its kinsfolk show a double flower-sheath;—­very, very rarely, under exceptional circumstances.  But Cattleya labiata vera never fails, and an interesting question it is to resolve why this alone should be so carefully protected.  One may cautiously surmise that its habitat is even damper than others’.  In the next place, some plants have their leaves red underneath, others green, and the flower-sheath always corresponds; this peculiarity is shared by C. l.  Warneri alone.  Thirdly—­and there is the grand distinction, the one which gives such extreme value to the species—­it flowers in the late autumn, and thus fills a gap.  Those who possess a plant may have Cattleyas in bloom the whole year round—­and they alone.  Accordingly, it makes a section by itself in the classification of Reichenbachia, as the single species that flowers from the current year’s growth, after resting.  Section II. contains the species that flower from the current year’s growth before resting.  Section III., those that flower from last year’s growth after resting.  All these are many, but C. l. vera stands alone.

[Illustration:  CATTLEYA LABIATA.  Reduced to One Sixth.]

We have no need to dwell upon the contest that arose at the introduction of Cattleya Mossiae in 1840, which grew more and more bitter as others of the class came in, and has not yet ceased.  It is enough to say that Lindley declined to recognize C.  Mossiae as a species, though he stood almost solitary against “the trade,” backed by a host of enthusiastic amateurs.  The great

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About Orchids from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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