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Old 10-01-2012, 09:30 PM
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Definition of "Alliance"

I see the word "alliance" in the context of orchid genera and wonder what that means. Can you help?

Specifically, I'm looking for the best candidates for mounting and have seen "members of the Cattleya Alliance" as potentials. Does that mean orchids similar to Cattleyas?

Once again, thank you for your help!
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Old 10-02-2012, 12:57 AM
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i can't tell you the exact definition, but yes, you're correct by saying "similar to". i take it a step further and say that they're plants from similar genera that can interbreed. for example, you can breed a laelia and a cattleya together, despite the fact they're two different genera.

"alliance" is usually used in the discussions of cattleyas, oncidiums, and i've seen it occasionally with phals/vandas (vandaceous). it's a very BROAD group of plants that share similar characteristics and genetics.
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Old 10-02-2012, 01:51 AM
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Then when you start talking about the vandacious plants you will see the word tribes used.
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Old 10-02-2012, 08:36 AM
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I guess when they say alliance, they mean all the types within that group, for instance, you get phalenopsis "pink lady", phal sensei blue, phal "insert subspecies here"... they're all part of the phalenopsis genus. They all have different looking flowers and some slightly different leaves, but generally all have similar characteristics and similar care guidelines, and are all part of the phalenopsis alliance
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Old 10-02-2012, 09:29 AM
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Alliance is a somewhat informal designation, but you can generally think of it as orchid genera which are related, typically genera that are sufficiently closely related that breeding between genera is possible. The plants may have similar cultural requirements.

In addition to the genus Cattleya, the genera Laelia, Brassavola, Rhyncholaelia, Sophrontis, Cattleyopsis, Caularthron, Schomburgkia, and Tetramicra, and probably others, are in the Cattleya alliance.

Sometimes, crosses between two genera are given a name that is a combo of the two parent genera (e.g., Laeliocattleya), or if it gets too complex, a new "genus" (or nothogenus) name is assigned (the nothogenus "Potinaria" is Cattleya x Laelia x Brassavola x Sophrontis; to make it even more confusing, the "Brassavola" used in many Potinarias is B. digbyana, which has been re-assigned to Rhyncholaelia (now its R. digbyana), and Sophrontis has been merged into Cattleya, so those "Potinaria" plants are now "Rhyncholaeliocattleya".

Confused? I would be surprised if you weren't. This is where good old "Cattleya alliance" comes in. Growers know that if they see "Cattleya alliance" they are talking about a group of related plants, which often can be grown within a range of similar cultural requirements.
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Last edited by Catt Mandu; 10-02-2012 at 09:31 AM. Reason: My computer is OK, but sometimes it can't spell.
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Old 10-02-2012, 09:31 AM
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Got it. Thanks to all!
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Old 10-02-2012, 09:36 AM
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Schomburgkias are Cattleya alliance, and many of those do well as mounts!

One of these days, I'd like to get a Schomburgkia (=Myrmecophila) albopurpurea.
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Old 10-02-2012, 09:39 AM
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Er . . . I posted "Got it" before I read Catt's answer! Whew. Guess the taxonomists need job security!

I guess in practical terms, it's good - when you see the word "alliance", you know you're working with plants with similar characteristics. Good to know when you're setting up a small growing space that you'd rather not divide into distinct climates!
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Old 10-02-2012, 10:25 AM
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FYI -- the same alliance can mean very different cultural requirements. For instance many dendrobiums require vastly different growing conditions...from shady and moist to full sun and dry. It's a great starting point for culture but be sure to dig a little deeper when deciding what will fit into the space you're providing.

BTW -- I do believe Mcp albopurpurea remains small enough to be kept on a mount but many Myrmecophilia are not. I was just talking w/someone about this the other day and there are some Mcp that get so large that a mature one in a pot requires 2 people to move it. I'm talking spikes that are over 10' tall and pbulbs bigger than a man's fist. You'd need a mature oak branch to properly mount it and try carrying THAT to the sink to water. I believe Brooke has a couple of very large specimens...maybe she can post a pic...or at least give some of the dimensions for reference.


As for the alliance vs tribe vs whatever...the best way I know to explain the breakdown would be to do it visually...using Cattleya purpurata as an example...

Family: Orchidaceae
Subfamily: Epidendroideae
Tribe: Epidendreae
Subtribe: Laeliinae
Alliance: Cattleya
Genus: Cattleya (formerly Laelia)
Subgenus: C. subg. Crispae
Section: C. sect. Crispae
Species: C. purpurata (formerly L. purpurata)

Side note- Not all genus have "subgenus" and/or "sections".
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Old 10-02-2012, 11:23 AM
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Katrina:

2 people to move one plant? Woah! that is one big plant! I guess the ones like M. tibicinis, M. exaltata, and M. albopurpurea that I have seen mounted must be smaller species? Good to know - thanks for the correction.

I agree that not all plants in an alliance are cared for the same way, I should have made it clearer that there is a RANGE of conditions that MOST of the plants in the Cattleya alliance are adapted to. To be sure, there are exceptions, especially with species rather than hybrids.
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Old 10-02-2012, 02:50 PM
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Ah ha! So alliance may refer to plants on the taxonomic tree, but different levels. That's good info - thanks, Kat! Your answer also brings into focus the need to make sure I'm mounting a plant to the appropriate size mount. I've got a bit of homework to do!
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Old 10-02-2012, 04:41 PM
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Ok, now I KNOW these don't get to be 200 pounds - how about Sophrontis, such as Sophrontis coccinea or S. cernua?
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Old 10-02-2012, 06:52 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Catt Mandu View Post
Ok, now I KNOW these don't get to be 200 pounds - how about Sophrontis, such as Sophrontis coccinea or S. cernua?
Yep...those are much, much smaller.
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Old 10-03-2012, 01:15 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BradGC View Post
I guess when they say alliance, they mean all the types within that group, for instance, you get phalenopsis "pink lady", phal sensei blue, phal "insert subspecies here"... they're all part of the phalenopsis genus. They all have different looking flowers and some slightly different leaves, but generally all have similar characteristics and similar care guidelines, and are all part of the phalenopsis alliance
the term "alliance" is actually much broader than this. phalaenopsis is not an alliance in and of itself, it's a genus WITHIN the vandaceous alliance/tribe. vanda, ascocentrum, paraphalaenopsis, neofinetia, etc also fall under the same alliance.
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Old 10-03-2012, 11:01 AM
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Cattman to add to your confusion, Sophronitis are now Cattleya but the cernua and coccinea are very small.

I have the Mym. exalta and it will eventually get very big. It is currently over growing an 8" pot and will be repotted next spring into probably a 14" clay pot. My albopurpurea is mounted on a smallish mount and will live on it happily for years. So far is hasn't cooperated and bloomed.

The old Schom's which are now Laelia need trees if they are going to be mounted. I might try to get a pic of one of my current ones in spike now. It will have to be in the g/h because it lives in a 14" clay pot with landscape lava rock and it isn't going to be moved.

Brooke
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Old 10-03-2012, 12:36 PM
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Wow. I think the taxonomists are running in circles because, unlike other plant families, orchids readily cross among genera.

One of these days, we'll catch one of these well-meaning taxonomists banging his head against a wall of mounted epiphytes and ask him, "What kind of orchid is this?" He will respond, weeping "I dunno. It's just an orchid! "
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Old 10-03-2012, 01:56 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brooke View Post
Cattman to add to your confusion, Sophronitis are now Cattleya but the cernua and coccinea are very small.

I have the Mym. exalta and it will eventually get very big. It is currently over growing an 8" pot and will be repotted next spring into probably a 14" clay pot. My albopurpurea is mounted on a smallish mount and will live on it happily for years. So far is hasn't cooperated and bloomed.

The old Schom's which are now Laelia need trees if they are going to be mounted. I might try to get a pic of one of my current ones in spike now. It will have to be in the g/h because it lives in a 14" clay pot with landscape lava rock and it isn't going to be moved.

Brooke
Brooke, I like the appearance of the M. Albopurpurea plant so much, the flowers would just be icing on the cake for me (mmmm . . . . cake . . . .). Seriously, the plants look like some sort of jade sculpture.

I hope yours blooms for you.
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Old 05-01-2016, 05:27 PM
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Mcp exalta x albopurpurea

Mcp exalta x albopurpurea -
I have a seedling of this cross and forgot where it came from. Does anyone have one and how large will it eventually get?
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Old 05-02-2016, 04:17 PM
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