Saturday, July 26, 2008

Orchid Park Nursery Sells for $2.8 Mil

Private Investor Purchases 4,5000-SF Retail Bldg. on 10.4-acre Lot

Kyung S & Woo Seung Chung purchased the property known as Orchid Park Nursery, at 2801-2929 Etting Rd. in Oxnard, CA. Total consideration for the sale was approximately $2.8 million, or about $623/square foot. The property is a nursery with a 4,500-square-foot retail building on a 10.4-acre lot. The current tenant, Taean Orchids USA Inc will continue to occupy the building under the new owner. John Lee of First Team Realty represented the seller, Sang Lee of Taean Orchids USA Inc. The buyer's broker was not disclosed. Please refer to CoStar COMP# 1520898 for further information.



An Orchid in a Million

A MERE glance at this orchid can make Innisfail breeder Rik Kelder weak at the knees.
As far as he knows, the bloom is a world-first.
Mr Kelder has spent 20 years breeding hybrids in greenhouses behind his home and says this one is an inexplicable mutation that could soon be marketed right across Australia and even worldwide.
The plant has been cross-bred from an exotic grammatophyllum orchid and a cymbidium species native to Australia.
"I’ve done that many times, but this has no resemblance to the others at all," Mr Kelder said.
"It’s the kind of mutation that might occur once in a million years."
The orchid looks most like a straight cymbidium, which only flowers in cooler climates but the national herbarium has confirmed its pollen structure is completely different, he said.
Mr Kelder is going to clone the plant at the end of its flowering and then mass produce it.
Hundreds of orchids will be on display at the Tropical Queensland Orchid Council Conference and Show at Cairns Showgrounds’ Fred Moule Exhibition Centre this weekend from 9am-5pm both days.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Origins of the Tahitian Vanilla Orchid

Scientists have ascertained the pedigree of Tahitian vanilla, the orchid whose rarity and rich, sweet flavor distinguishes it from the widely used commercial vanilla. The discovery of the plant’s heritage could set off a custody battle between nations, researchers say.

Here's another article on this wonderful plant.

Tahitian vanilla originated in Maya forests, says UC Riverside botanist

RIVERSIDE, Calif. – The origin of the Tahitian vanilla orchid, whose cured fruit is the source of the rare and highly esteemed gourmet French Polynesian spice, has long eluded botanists. Known by the scientific name Vanilla tahitensis, Tahitian vanilla is found to exist only in cultivation; natural, wild populations of the orchid have never been encountered.

Now, a team of investigators led by Pesach Lubinsky, a postdoctoral researcher with Norman Ellstrand, a professor of genetics in UC Riverside's Department of Botany and Plant Sciences, claims to have traced Tahitian vanilla back to its true origins.

In the August issue of the American Journal of Botany, Lubinsky and colleagues use genetic and ethnohistoric analysis to argue that Tahitian vanilla began its evolutionary journey as a pre-Columbian Maya cultivar inside the tropical forests of Guatemala.

"All the evidence points in the same direction," Lubinsky said. "Our DNA analysis corroborates what the historical sources say, namely, that vanilla was a trade item brought to Tahiti by French sailors in the mid-19th century. The French Admiral responsible for introducing vanilla to Tahiti, Alphonse Hamelin, used vanilla cuttings from the Philippines. The historical record tells us that vanilla – which isn't native to the Philippines – was previously introduced to the region via the Manila Galleon trade from the New World, and specifically from Guatemala."

The Manila galleons (1565-1815) were Spanish trading ships that sailed once or twice each year across the Pacific Ocean between Manila in the Philippines and Acapulco, Mexico. The ships brought Chinese porcelain, silk, ivory, spices, and other exotic goods to Mexico in exchange for New World silver.

The genetic data Lubinsky and his colleagues obtained confirmed that the closest relatives to Tahitian vanilla, from among 40 different Vanilla species they analyzed from across the world, were two species that grow naturally only in the tropical forests of Central America: Vanilla planifolia and Vanilla odorata. V. planifolia is also the primary species cultivated for commercial vanilla, and is grown principally in Madagascar and Indonesia. V. odorata has never been cultivated.

Yet, even with this initial genetic data, the researchers faced a conundrum. They could find no Tahitian vanilla growing wild in Guatemala, which is where its closest relatives grew. The researchers decided to give their genetic data a second look. This time, by comparing patterns of relatedness in DNA sequences from both the nucleus and the chloroplast (a plant cell's photosynthetic factory), they discovered that Tahitian vanilla fit the pattern of being a hybrid offspring between V. planifolia and V. odorata.

"And that's where the Maya cultivators come in," Lubinsky explained. "The pre-Columbian Maya had been managing their forests for millennia to cultivate cacao and to make chocolate, and we know they were also cultivating vanilla to use it as a chocolate spice. The Maya created these forest gardens by introducing different types of species of wild cacao and vanilla from the surrounding forests, which meant that species that had previously been geographically separated were then able to hybridize because they were in the same place. That's the scenario we present in our research paper for how Tahitian vanilla got started. It is an evolutionary product, but also a Maya artifact."

Seung-Chul Kim, an assistant professor of systematics in the Department of Botany and Plant Sciences and a coauthor on the research paper, served as an advisor to Lubinsky on the project.

"Pesach has demonstrated that Vanilla species can exchange genes quite frequently across species barriers," Kim said. "This provides an opportunity to breed new commercial varieties of vanilla through hybridization in the future."

Lubinsky, Kim and their colleagues plan to do further research on vanilla. In January 2009, they will begin mapping cacao-vanilla forest gardens in Belize, southern Mexico and Guatemala. They also are actively advising on sustainable agricultural development projects using vanilla in Mexico and Belize, and have plans to assemble a vanilla germplasm collection.



Friday, July 11, 2008

Maria Teresa Fighetti Wife of AOS President Dies

From the AOS website:

As many of you are aware, Carlos Fighetti, president of the AOS, lost his wife to a tragic heart attack over the weekend. On behalf of the entire membership, we wish to express our condolences and sympathies to Carlos and his children on the sudden passing of such a wonderful person. Everyone is shocked by the loss of Maria Teresa Fighetti, a dedicated wife, person and friend.

I have been asked to convey that there will be a private funeral service. A Memorial Mass will be celebrated at the University of the Sacred Heart Catholic Church on July 11. Carlos and his family have been deeply touched by the outpouring of condolences. Carlos has asked that anyone wishing to express his or her sympathies might consider making a donation to the Heritage Collection of the American Orchid Society. Tere was impressed with the idea of preserving the special orchid species and hybrids that are the foundation of our hobby and commercial businesses. A donation in Tere's name would be a lasting way to remember a gracious person who, through her patience and understanding, gave us her husband and friend to lead the revitalization of the AOS.

For those of you who would like to express your sympathies to Carlos and his family, their address and email are:HC-03 Box 8125Guaynabo, PR 00971-9710

Should you wish to make a donation to the Heritage Collection of the American Orchid Society, please contact Susan Wayman at 561-404-2031 or e-mail her at

Chris Rehmann
AOS Vice President

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Some 191 countries have signed up to an international treaty on biodiversity

Some orchid species are widespread but, because of development, two of the Island's important orchid sites have been lost. Although flowers were moved, there was a sharp decline in orchid population at both sites.


Steve Peralta

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Eulophia graminea orchids of Asia found in Florida

A slight, delicate orchid with a penchant for travel is popping up in Miami-Dade County in disturbed and abandoned lots as well as in manicured and mulched garden beds. It is unbidden, not a native, and seems to be finding its way to new areas hither and yon.
Tracking down its identity has been a venture worthy of Inspector Clouseau, and finding the pollinator continues to be a scientific Tropic Hunt based on some cool clues and little-known facts. Much about it still mystifies.
Its one-inch flowers are mostly green, although the lip is white and pink. The leaves occasionally appear after the flower stalk. It grows in the ground, and when small, it has a roundish bulb that resembles a houseplant called the pregnant onion.
Because it's being spotted in locations miles apart, questions are buzzing: Why is this plant becoming comfortable in South Florida?
''It's an exciting botanical mystery. Where did it come from? And is it going to be a problem?'' said Suzanne Koptur, an ecologist at Florida International University. ``It's a very tough, strong orchid that seems to pop up from very small seeds that find what they need in that cypress mulch.''
Will it be like the African monk orchid, Oeceoclades maculata, which once made the list of invasive plants compiled by the Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council? That orchid has moved into all seven counties south of Lake Okeechobee, although it has been removed from the FEPPC's list of bad plants. Or will it be a harmless lounge-about like the lawn orchid Zeuxine strateumatica?
The monk orchid might displace native seedlings of tropical hardwoods, rare ferns, wildflowers of shady hammocks ''and even things like the wild coco, another native orchid, Eulophia alta ,'' Koptur said. Or, the monk orchid might be totally harmless. Experts disagree.
The new Eulophia orchid was first noticed last year by one of Koptur's neighbors, Harvey Bernstein, who found it growing in the mulch beds around his succulent collection. Bernstein is a plant curator at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden and more likely to spot an unusual specimen than most people.
When he didn't recognize the plant, he took it to Koptur, but she didn't recognize it, either.
It worked its way through several orchid growers until, finally, Bob Pemberton, a research associate with Fairchild, solved the name-that-orchid mystery.
The little orchid is Eulophia graminea. It hails from Southeast Asia, Burma and subtropical islands of the Pacific. It has become naturalized in northern Australia, and now, as if by magic, it is in the Redland, Miami Dade College's North Campus, Little River, South Miami and even in a parking lot on Virginia Key.
Until you get the hang of spotting them, young plants are slight enough to remain overlooked. The first rule of science: Be a good observer.
In Miami's Palm Grove neighborhood, just west of Belle Meade, orchid fancier Don Wallstedt found many eulophias growing in rocky soil in two empty lots.
''I saw these little flowers and knew it was an orchid but didn't know what kind,'' he said. ``I looked in Wild Orchids of Florida, which has every orchid that's ever been seen in Florida, and knew I had something unique.''
With the identity secured, the orchid sleuths turned to the next question: How did it get here?
There are Internet dealers. Pemberton found several of the plants for sale on eBay, as well as a Thai source offering the bulbs and even a source in Scotland offering plants. So it could have escaped from someone's local collection and made a beeline for the nearest mulch pile.
Its dust-like seeds may have been carried on the wind.


Steve Peralta