01 August 2020

Creating New Orchids

Written by: Sandra Zepeda

So I am at the halfway point of my fellowship and I am definitely feeling the pressure. It may suck a bit to feel this way, but I enjoy telling myself, “embrace the suck!”, because it helps me feel better about my stress.

Since my last blog I have been researching the nurseries that export the vast majority of artificially propagated orchids. Online, these nurseries list all the orchids they have for sale, and also provide a lot of educational material on their care, trade, growth habits, conservation, and propagation. Other than researching nurseries, I have also been analyzing orchid application findings of about twelve thousand orchid species, resulting in the previously mentioned pressure at the beginning of this blog. 

Most of these orchids are hybrids, which is the result of the cross pollination of two different species. I decided to learn a little more about the process of orchid hybridization and share this knowledge in my blog. The first step is pollination in which a toothpick is used to extract the pollen from the flower, and then it is placed on the surface of a stigma (male part of a flower) of another orchid. Then the pollen on the stigma will travel to the back of the flower to the ovary (female part of a flower). Once fertilization takes place, the ovary will swell and become a seed pod. The maturation time of the seed pod varies depending on genera. Harvest of the seed pod usually takes place when it bursts open. The small seeds are sown in an agar gel media which contains all the nutrients for them to germinate. After they germinate on the agar gel, the seedlings are planted in a flask to continue to grow, and are replanted in a flask about three times until they have grown enough to be potted in soil. This process can take years, and it is a truly unique process and it amazes me to know that new species of orchids are being created.

Here are some pictures of orchids that have caught my eye. This first one is called Dendrobium capituliflorum and it grabbed my attention because of how bizarre it looks like it could be from another planet. Its stem and flower are very fascinating, and I hope to own one someday if I get the chance.



This next one is called Chilochista nakornpanomensis and I just found this one so beautiful because of its spotted pattern, small size, and simplicity.

Chiloschista yunnanensis

Agency: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Program: Latino Heritage Internship Program (LHIP)

Location: Fish and Wildlife Headquarters, Washington Office

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