So, coming soon, or that is at least the latest word on the net from the only TWO growers in the US allowed to sell them, the very controversial Phragmipedium kovachii...I mean Phrag peruvianum...wait...lets back this train up and get caught up on this story (for those who don't know) and talk a little about this awesome and very controversial plant. I am not professing to be an expert on what exactly happened concerning this gem of a plant, so if there are a few folks who know more about it chime in.

This is really the story of two men...Dr. Eric Christenson and Mike Kovach, and the orchid that got tangled up between them. Whilst travelling through Peru in 2001 or so, Kovach spotted at a roadside stand a rather large phragmipedium that neither he, nor anyone else, had seen...or so the story goes, and had yet to be identified. He later brought one back to the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, and Selby, from what I understand, published a special edition of Selbyanna and Kovach asked that the plant be named for him.

Well, in the meantime, and a year previous, Dr. Christenson had be also studying the previously unidentified orchid and was just about to publish (under the name peruvianum for its native home) ]when much to his surprise (or so I am imagining) five days before he was to publish, the Selby article was released. Of course egos were hurt here.

This is evidently where things get more interesting.Peru brings charges against Kovach because there was evidence that he violated CITES and imported the plant illegaly (it is unclear as to whether or not there are forged docs or that there were documents at all), there is a raid on his collection in Goldvein, Virginia (hey, I know exactly where that is), and there are trials, fines are paid, Kovach pleads guilty. Also, quite a few people (according to five articles about the plant I have read so far) who used to work for Selby where found to no longer work at Selby. Needless to say...this is not so good.

Christenson, incensed (naturally), as well as Peru, have both asked that the plant be renamed peruvianum considering the non-legal smuggling of the plant. In my humble opinion, I agree with this...on both the "nanny nanny boo-boo" level since it was originally (according to the articles, yet again) Christenson's find and he was allegedly following what should have been protocol (in situ observation, legal collection, appropriate documentation), but also considering that someone would do such a dity deed as to steal a plant and then have the gumption to name the plant after himself is just kinda sick.

Anyway, I also found out today (according to the site of one of the growers allowed to sell the plant) that sale of the plant before 2007 is illegal (they are lab grown specimens...this grower stated that any kovachii sold prior to 2007 could not be guaranteed to be of legal sale...whether or not this is true, I am not sure...needless to say...since this plant has garnered so much attention, it is safe to reason that allot of people will want it. I admit, I may end up with one in my collection...but you'd better be sure, my tag is going to say "peruvianum".

Anyway, I just glossed over a lot here, otherwise it would be a huge rambling, and as a few folks here know, I can be a talker...I tried not to blow anything out of proportion (I appologize if I did) but I couldn't help the slightly objective stance, it is a shame that the act of one guy greedy for fame had to sully (to whatever extent) the name of an institution like Selby, and cost some folks their jobs. I guess there is the ethical argument as to whether or not Selby had the duty to step up and question the plant, or if they decided to "scoop" the story anyway because it is one of the "new finds" of the century.

Posted below are links to a couple of the articles I ran across if anyone is interested:

if you want the blurb from the one grower...its not too hard to under "peruvianum"...