Section Barbata

Subsection Lorapetalum Karasawa and Saito

This new Section of Karasawa and Saito encompasses the Subsection Curtisii of the Pharcopetalum Section in the Pfitzer classification, plus Paphiopedilum dayanum of the Blepharopetalum Section.(5)

Cribb 105 places these plants in his Subgenus Paphiopedilum Section Barbata. He places 24 species in this section, distinguished usually by one flowered inflorescences and tessellated leaves. Chromosome numbers vary from 2n = 28-34.

4 species are included:-







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It was introduced into European cultivation by Messrs Low and Co. in 1882 being discovered by William Boxall. The specific name was suggested by the hairs on the plants.

Growing up to 450 mm high, its deep and pale green tessellated leaves are 200 mm or more long, 40 mm broad. The inflorescence is up to 380 mm long, single flowered. The flowers are up to 100 mm long and broad, with the dorsal sepal purple at its base, the remainder white with alternating long and short green and purplish veins. The synsepalum is whitish with green veins. The base two thirds of the petals are green, densely spotted with black warts. The tips are pale purple. The lip is pale purplish-brown with pale yellowish- cream side lobes spotted with purple warts. (8)

Native of Mt. Diuati, Surigao del Sir, Siagao e Dinagat Islands of the Philippines, it grows in decomposed volcanic soil at an altitude of some 800 metres. October and November flowering , (Southern Hemisphere equivalent months) it needs a July rest for flower bud initiation. It needs intermediate temperatures for optimum growth, in moderately bright lighting conditions. It appreciates moss in its potting mix, and heavy watering, especially when it is in active growth. Its natural habitat is characterised by heavy winter rains, with only reduced rainfall during the summer and autumn. Winter diurnal temperatures average 24 - 15.5 degrees celsius, with summers 29 - 18 degrees celsius. Humidity is high all the year. (3)

Herbert 145 discusses three Philippine habitats. He notes its reported habitats lie between 300 and 1800 metres altitude, in a summer monsoon area, although where seasonality is not pronounced. The first habitat was mountainous, the plants growing on rocks rich in heavy metals, especially chromium and manganese, and the author considers these may be essential for the strong growth of this species. The absence of these elements may give rise to the reputation this species has for difficult culture. The first was relatively stunted, and the plants grew close to the base of the trees in bright light, although in another habitat the plants grew in much more shaded positions.

20 primaries have been registered to 1976, but only one cross had received an award, and that was an old one.


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There are usually four or more leaves on a well grown plant, each of which are about 200 mm long and 75 mm broad, the upper surface indistinctly marbelled with darker green. The single flowered inflorescence is about 200 mm tall. The flower is some 110 mm across. The dorsal sepal is short, green, edged with white and bearing some purple longitudinal stripes. The petals are greenish-rose at their base, becoming paler towards eir tips, and showing many small purple spots. The lip is greenish maroon. (32)

Paph curtisii
Photo/grower Merv. Dougherty

This species was first found in 1882 by Charles Curtis, a collector employed by the English nursery of Messrs Veitch and Sons. A small consignment of the plants were forwarded to Europe, and Curtis, becoming disenchanted with the life of orchid collecting, returned without disclosing its habitat. The plants were eagerly sought, and another English nursery, Messrs Sander and Co. sent a Dutch speaking collector, Ericsson, to Sumatra in 1884. For some time he searched for this species, but to no avail. During a period of illness, he was lying in a hospital, when he saw a painting of a paphiopedilum the wall, and which in the early morning light showed its colours, revealing the missing Paphiopedilum curtisii. Any doubt was dispelled by the initials 'CC' under the painting. It was not an easy task to trace the plants down, however, and in fact it was not until the eve of his departure that a local inhabitant from another region finally brought the plants to him. (42)

It is native of the Eastern Barisan Mountains, extending south into central Sumatra, Indonesia, growing on rocky outcrops with its roots imbedded in leafy humus and decaying detritus. It also seeks mosses in water seepages along cliff faces, in bright locations. It grows at an elevation of 900 to 1200 metres. November to December flowering, it needs a winter rest, intermediate temperatures, in moderate light. It grows and flowers well where there is a 5.5 to 8 degrees celsius difference between summer and winter temperatures. While it grows readily, it is reported not reproduce vegetatively with the speed of some other species. (3)

Seasonality is influenced by rainfall, as there is little difference in day length because the habitat is close to the equator. The 'dry' season extends from December to March (Southern Hemisphere equivalent months), a period of frequent rains which last several days at a time. In May the north-west monsoon arrives, with heavy rainfall, and which lasts until September. The skies are frequently cloudy for the whole year. High and low summer temperatures average 28 and 17 degrees celsius, winters 24 and 13 degrees celsius. Humidity is always near the saturation point. (3)

The attractive albino variety Paphiopedilum curtisii var. sanderae was identified in a shipment imported by Sander and Sons in 1912, and was first flowered in Europe in 1915. Fortunately it breeds true as an alba, enabling its widespread distribution. (42)

30 primaries have been registered to 1976, 10 of which have been awarded. (9)

This species is listed only as a synonym of P. superbiens by Bechtel Cribb and Launert. (8) Refer to the description of that species. . The Handbook of Orchid Nomenclature and Registration (27) and Cribb 105 agree. Hybrid registrations have been completed with both names, but now only P. superbiens is accepted. Fowlie 147 discusses this issue in detail. He believes the two are distinct, see his diagnosis 147 for specific identification. Wood 148 also provides useful additional information.



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Paphiopedilum dayanum was discovered on Mount Kinabalu in North East Borneo by Sir Hugh Low. Specimens were forwarded to the Clapton U.K. nursery of Messrs Low and Co., from whom Mr Day obtained the entire stock. The species was first flowered in Day's Tottenham collection in 1860. It remained a rare plant in English collections until it was rediscovered in its native habitat by Peter Veitch and F.W. Burbidge during their orchid collecting trip to the area during 1879. (4)

This species usually produces 4 to 5 leaves, which are 125 to 175 mm long, variable in colour, sometimes pale green with some spots of darker green or tessellated dark and light green. The single flowered scape is over 300 mm tall. Flowers are 100 to 125 mm in diameter. The dorsal sepal is white, symmetrically veined with green. The petals, slightly deflexed, are fringed with black hairs, the base half brownish-green, the tip half rose purple. The lip is brownish-purple, the side lobes densely spotted with small purplish warts. (34)

Fowlie notes (19) that Paphiopedilum rothschildianum and P. dayanum have hybridised naturally on Mount Kinabalu (P. X kimballianum). Fowlie states that the range of P. dayanum overlaps P. rothschildianum for at least 500 metres altitude. P. dayanum grows at the base of moss covered trees as a low elevation type, whereas at 900 metres altitude it is found growing as a lithophyte on the open escapement on the mountain. At its low elevation site, the huge 150 mm diameter flowers have faded petals but vivid green leaves with dark checkerboard markings. At higher elevations, the plants produce 100 mm diameter flowers, the petals and pouch of which are suffused deep pink and the leaves are darker green with more irregular darker mottlings. The high elevation race has two leaf patterns; one bright green and the other grey green. This group is found growing at an altitude just above the P. rothschildianum colonies. For the general description of the habitat, refer to P. rothschildianum. Fowlie notes that the high elevation P. dayanum race grows naturally under cooler temperatures. Fowlie (82) reports on, and describes, the rediscovery of this plants habitat on Mount Kinabalu.

 It is September to November flowering (Southern Hemisphere equivalent months) requiring a lower winter temperature for bud initiation, and prefers moderately bright growing conditions. It likes plenty of moisture, but Birk (3) notes it sometimes develops problems with flower bud drop caused by excess humidity under stagnant air conditions. Increase ventilation and air movement to eliminate this problem. Shaded flowers retain their colour better.

Temperatures from the habitat are noted to average during the driest and hottest month of October 29.5 degrees celsius during the day and 18.5 degrees at night. Winter temperatures average 25.5 and 10 degrees celsius respectively.

Schaffer (9) notes 22 primary hybrids were registered up to 1976, of which only 3 have been awarded, in 'recent' years.

Fowlie (43) records that in 1877, Peter Veitch and F.W. Burbidge visited Mount Kinabalu. In an ascent to the Maral Parai Plateau 2 differently leaved paphiopedilums were discovered, named Paphiopedilum petri (Rchb.f.) Stein and Paphiopedilum burbidgei (Rchb.f.) Stein. Reichenbach f. described them in 1880, as very close to P. dayanum, P. petri showing leaves with a darker ground colour and the flowers smaller and shorter. The dorsal sepal is white with green veins, very distinct in outline. P. burbidgei was described the following year (1881) again showing some variation from the typical P. dayanum. Affinity is suggested with Paphiopedlium javanicum and Paphiopedilum virens. Reichenbach's conclusion was that these two plants were a natural hybrid between these two true species. Fowlie, however, believes from the evidence of collected plants that the hybrid nature is not correct, and that these plants are more correctly a form (subspecies) of the low elevation typical Paphiopedilum dayanum. (43) This view is not supported by Cribb 105


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This terrestrial plant grows up to 400 mm tall. Its light and dark green mottled leaves are 200 mm long and 80 mm broad. The single flowered inflorescence grows up to 300 mm tall. All flower segments are hairy. The dorsal sepal is white, longitudinally lined with purple and green with the central area pale green. The synsepalum is white with green longitudinal lines. Petals are pinkish-white with dark purple veining and covered by small black warts, the largest of which occur along the upper edge. The lip is a rich deep purple, the side lobes pale purple and covered with purple warts. (8)

The initial stock of this species derived from only two plants. The first introduced was sold to Council Schiller of Hamburg in Germany in 1855, being received from Messrs Rollisson, and was subsequently

distributed by division amongst European growers. The second plant was collected for James Veitch and Sons by Thomas Lobb on Mount Ophir and forwarded amongst an importation of Paphiopedlium barbatum in 1857 (4) It was only recently that collections have been remade in Sumatra. (9)

Birk (3) notes that this species, long thought to come from Sumatra, has been frequently imported with Paphiopedilum ciliolare. He notes that its present habitat is unknown except to a few plant collectors, although he states its range is Surigao del Sur, Philippines, where it grows semi-terrestrially in humus and volcanic cinders. He also states lit has very close affinity to Paphiopedilum curtisii from Sumatra. (3)

F. Vermuelen (44) reproduces old illustrations of P. superbiens and P. curtisii to indicate how they are supposed to differ. Asher(5) describes Paphiopedlium superbiens as a 'lost species probably from Sumatra’ and P. curtisii as a valid species. Cribb 105 lists it as a separate species and summarises the early confusion regarding its taxonomic status. .

Schaffer (9) lists 31 primary hybrids have been made with P. superbiens up to 1976, 13 of which have been awarded, of which all but two are old awards. It is noted by him that 'much controversy attends the identification of P. ‘superbiens' and that the authenticity of its past primary hybrids is open to doubt. The Handbook of Orchid Nomenclature and Registration (27) regards P. curtisii only as a synonym for Paphiopedilum superbiens and Cribb 105 agrees. Hybrid registrations have been completed with both names, but now only P. superbiens is accepted. Fowlie 147 discusses this issue in detail. He believes the two are distinct, see his diagnosis 147 for specific identification. Wood 148 also provides useful additional information.


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Site established 9th May 1998
Paphiopedilum series first uploaded 8th December 1999