December 2017 - South Brazil

Another long-planned trip ended up done in December of 2017. Since more than 30 years we were planning to revisit the habitat of Laelia (Brasilaelia) purpurata and also more recently some other purpurata shows. We have been going to the early show of Joinville (Santa Catarina) every other year for a long time now and although it is a very nice big show it is not the strongest on good purpuratas. There are a few reasons for that, the most logical one being that the darker purpuratas (mostly flammeas and sanguineas) flower later on the year. Also, some of the private growers are reluctant to show their plants on shows with a high turnover of visitation citing security concerns. In any case, we knew that if we wanted to see the most recent high-quality purpurtas we had to go somewhere else. We also stayed mostly in Santa Catarina in the past so it was time to go to Rio Grande do Sul, both for habitats and for shows.

At the beginning of the trip, we decided to visit the northern part of the state, where purpurats grow mostly on big old trees (figueiras). The original forest has been destroyed in many areas, but many of the old trees still can be seen on the roadside or around lagoon margins. Some of them are still covered with purpuratas, and the displays are really impressive as we can see on these first four pictures.
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MG_2017_12_7 We visited a couple of shows and, of course, a few friends and growers too and I can say it was a crash course on top-quality current purpuratas. The first three pictures show an excellent carnea (one of the best there is according to growers), a roxo-bispo and a russeliana. Those pictures pretty much showcase the present state of improvement on these color forms.

The two next pictures show tipos, a ligh and a dark one. Here we can see some the best shapes there are in purpuratas today.

The following four pictures depict what we can expect on great flammeas today, and the only better thing than seeing these pictures is to see them in person.
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MG_2017_12_14 And due to the extensive breeding with flammeas, rubras and sanguineas, we see results that are quite intermediary as this one on the left; it is a dark flammea that has petals of a sanguinea...
The flowers on the left are supposed to be a rubra, but again it is more of an intermediate between a rubra and a sanguinea. The main difference between rubras and sanguineas is that the former don't have the shine that is present on the sanguines. Point taken, let's call it a rubra. Great for a rubra anyway.

The last three pictures are all sanguineas, or should I say spectacular sanguineas. We have to remenber, some of these are the very best today in Brazil.
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MG_2017_12_18 And this one on the left is considered the best sanguinea in Brazil (at least as of last year), period. It produces smaller flowers than some other purpuratas, but the shape and substance conunterbalances it nicely. People also have to remember that breeding in Brazil is first for shape, which is the most difficult aspect to improve (especially in purpuratas). Second is color, objective being get good color with good shape. Size of flowers is way down on the list, as size is something the flowers already have anyway. So nobody breeds those things for decades to improve size... the real challenge was and is the flower shape!
Another species in flower was Cattleya leopoldii (tigrina). We planned to visit the habitat but flowering season was just starting so we had to postpone that. They would be in full flower in Santa Catarina but not yet in Rio Grande do Sul. As with purpuratas, as we go south the flowering season is later.

But still, we were able to see some spectacular ones. The one on the right shows what a good tipo has to look like today.

And the next two are pelorics, one alba and the other one with regular color.
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MG_2017_12_22 Some different colors are not native, but instead a product of artificial propagation like this very unusual coerulea tone. Same happens with purpuratas and intermedias.

A lot of breeding has been done on semi-albas, and the results can be sampled by the next four pictures. There are some with pure green segments, others with slight darker tones and especially the variations in lip color and pattern are astonishing.
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And even though the flowering season of Cattleya intermedia is officially ended, there are so many plants in cultivation that there are always something in flower. And in this case we were glad to see the blooms of one of the best concolors in cultivation today. Pretty spectacular, and visiting South Brazil at intermedia flowering season is actually something else. MG_2017_12_27
MG_2017_12_28 And finally, after seeing all these plants in flower, it was time to finish the trip with another habitat visit. This time, the location was a huge rock outcropping where the purpuratas grow like the lobatas do in Rio de Janeiro. Plants here grow very exposed, associated with bromeliads, cacti and other small plants and also with several other orchids like Epidendrum fulgens. Lots of purpuratas, but the blooming was just starting.
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An interesting find was a few plants of the natural hybrid between purpurata and Cattleya intermedia. The hybrid plants, seen on the foreground of the picture on the right, were not in flower but on the left picture we see that there were still some intermedias in flower. These were growing on the forest on the plains that can barely be seen on the right picture. The purpuratas were in flower though, a couple of them growing together with the hybrid plants (right).

All in all a very successful trip.