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  • 5 Post By Ron-NY
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  • 1 Post By Brutal_Dreamer

orchids in the subfamily Cypripedioideae (Slipper Orchids)

This is a discussion on orchids in the subfamily Cypripedioideae (Slipper Orchids) within the Paphiopedilum & Phragmipedium Info. forums, part of the Frequently Asked Questions category; Thought some might find some slipper information interesting. The subfamily Cypripedioideae consist of five genera ...

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  1. #1
    Ron-NY is offline rothaholic
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    Default orchids in the subfamily Cypripedioideae (Slipper Orchids)

    Thought some might find some slipper information interesting.

    The subfamily Cypripedioideae consist of five genera

    1. Cypripedium - which are found across much of North America, as well as in parts of Europe and Asia.

    2. Paphiopedilums - These are found in the tropical rainforests southeast Asia extending into China

    3. Phragmipedium, - Are located in Central and Northern South America

    4. Mexipedium - Containing a single species, Mexipedium xerophyticum, which is endemic to Mexico.

    5. Selenipedium - there are 6 species accepted. I believe all are from South America.

    The flower structure of "slipper Orchids" vary from other orchids in that the labellum (lip) is modified into a pouch-like structure. This pouch traps bugs, which then have to crawl out past the anthers and this leads to fertilization. (there are two separate anthers in cypripedioids, unlike other genera which only have one anther).

    Cypripedioids lateral sepals are totally or partially fused and called the Synsepal. The uppermost sepal is called the Dorsal Sepal.

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    Lizgeo is offline Senior Member
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    I didn't know the later two genus, thank you for the informtion.

    Based on the distribution, I suspect that Cypripedium appeared before North America plate was separated from Europe, and about the same time, Asia plate joined Europe to form Eurosian. Other genus evolved from from Cypripedium after this continental event, so they have regional distribution of each genus. I wonder if anyone ever has done the search to trace the genetics of them.

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    Thank you for an interesting description of the slippers. This is a wonderful flower. Love the yellows and bronzes

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    thanks never heard of the last 2 either

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    Ron-NY is offline rothaholic
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    Selenipedium is the more primitive of the genera. They are tall reed-like plants. I saw a picture of a plant that was at least 3x the height of the guy standing next to it. To date, there has never been a hybrid in this genus. It is very rare in cultivation and they are threatened in their existence because of habitat loss.

    Mexipedium is readily found in culture. I had one at one time. The plant is small, about 6 inches in height. The flower is about the size of an American dime. It is a lithotrop, growing on cliff faces, in the shade. The plant spreads by runners.

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    Interesting. Is there any information on the timing of orchid family evolution?

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    Ron-NY is offline rothaholic
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lizgeo View Post
    Interesting. Is there any information on the timing of orchid family evolution?
    Orchidaceae may be one of the oldest families of flowering plants. There was found preserved in amber a bee with orchid pollen mass stuck to it's back. It was dated from the Late Cretaceous Period, some 76-84 million years ago million years old. So orchids were here during the age of dinosaurs.

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    Thanks Ron! PS- updating this to an article in the orchid article library. Orchids in the subfamily Cypripedioideae

    cheers,
    BD

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lizgeo View Post
    I didn't know the later two genus, thank you for the informtion.

    Based on the distribution, I suspect that Cypripedium appeared before North America plate was separated from Europe, and about the same time, Asia plate joined Europe to form Eurosian. Other genus evolved from from Cypripedium after this continental event, so they have regional distribution of each genus. I wonder if anyone ever has done the search to trace the genetics of them.
    Are you a palaeontologist ? Or merely an orchidist getting sucked into all that jazz as a result of thinking about orchid distribution ( like me). However, one of my e-mail mates is a proper palaeontologist ( retired Professor) involved in orchids as dogsbody in his wife's collection, and he has been putting me right on some of my deductions in this sort of area. It seems that there is a major difference in sea level today, as compared to the time in the late Cretaceous when the relevant evolution probably happened - of course the absence of fossils for soft tissue plants makes it almost all a matter of deduction only ! But there were land links in places which are not entirely obvious most(all ?) of the continents are surrounded by continental shelves where the water is very shallow, and the phenomena of isostasy also has an effect . It seems that these land bridges where they seem unlikely to us , enabled transmission of genetic material across what we think of as seas, and this is the explanation for some genera ( not Cyprepedioidiae) being present on both sides of the South Atlantic although probably evolved at a time when it is thought the South Amnerican plate was well on its way towards North America.
    A fascinating subject - rapidly becoming my hobby horse... must stop !

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    I did have a BS on palaeontology, but I mainly work as geologist these days without spending that much time on paleo any more.

    The idea of continental drift and its possible on orchid distribution and evolution came to me when I saw Cypripedium in both America and Asia, then read from other poeple's post that it also grows in Europe. But, I can't find that much publication on orchid evolution. I guess geologists and orchidist haven't really come together on this topic.

    Do you know other orchid genus that spread over two continents?

    Maybe this can be my phD topic someday after I retire:-)
    Quote Originally Posted by Dorsetman View Post
    Are you a palaeontologist ? Or merely an orchidist getting sucked into all that jazz as a result of thinking about orchid distribution ( like me). However, one of my e-mail mates is a proper palaeontologist ( retired Professor) involved in orchids as dogsbody in his wife's collection, and he has been putting me right on some of my deductions in this sort of area. It seems that there is a major difference in sea level today, as compared to the time in the late Cretaceous when the relevant evolution probably happened - of course the absence of fossils for soft tissue plants makes it almost all a matter of deduction only ! But there were land links in places which are not entirely obvious most(all ?) of the continents are surrounded by continental shelves where the water is very shallow, and the phenomena of isostasy also has an effect . It seems that these land bridges where they seem unlikely to us , enabled transmission of genetic material across what we think of as seas, and this is the explanation for some genera ( not Cyprepedioidiae) being present on both sides of the South Atlantic although probably evolved at a time when it is thought the South Amnerican plate was well on its way towards North America.
    A fascinating subject - rapidly becoming my hobby horse... must stop !
    Last edited by Lizgeo; March 25th, 2013 at 08:54 AM.

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