Orchid names

Occasionally I received questions from readers about identifying orchids or making sense out of nonsensical tags. Yesterday I received another such question, which I think would be helpful for some beginner orchid growers.

The reader bought a plant with a tag that says “(Caurantica x Bro Sanuinea)Red”.

Let’s break down the different parts:

“Caurantica” should actually be “C. aurantiaca”. C. is a short form of Cattleya. Cattleya aurantiaca is a species.

“Bro Sanuinea” should actually be “Bro. sanguinea”. Bro. is a short form of Brougtonia. Broughtonia sanguinea is a species.

Notice that I use all lower case for the species names (aurantiaca and sanguinea). That’s the correct way to represent a species.

C. aurantiaca x Bro. sanguinea is an established cross. The name of this cross is Cattleytonia Why Not (notice Why Not is capitalized; that’s the correct way to represent a hybrid).

I think Red at the end of the name is just the vendor’s way to say that the flowers should be red. There’s also a chance that ‘Red’ is a cultivar name. Some growers give their superior orchids a cultivar name to distinguish it from other plants of the same cross. If I were to cross C. aurantiaca and Bro. sanguinea again on my own, my plant’s cultivar would be different from your plant’s. However, the proper way to write cultivar name is within single quotes (as in ‘Red’), and I don’t know of any famous Cattleytonia Why Not with a cultivar of ‘Red’, so I am guessing it’s just the vendor’s way to note that the flowers should be red.

X Cattleytonia Why Not Melinda

Cattleytonia Why Not – Photo curtesy of dogtooth77.

Isn’t orchid naming fun?

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