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Schweizerische Orchideenstiftung
am Herbarium Jany Renz

Dr. Christoph Noelpp
St. Jakobs-Strasse 30
4002 Basel

© 2015 Swiss Orchid Foundation

Botanisches Institut
Universität Basel

SORA Awardee 2009

Dr. Toscano de Brito

Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

Project: Phylogeny and Taxonomy of the Ornithocephalus Alliance of the Subtribe Oncidiinae (Orchidaceae) Exploring the Tree of Life of Rare, Neotropical, Miniature Orchids

The Ornithocephalus alliance of the subtribe Oncidiinae, often called the "bird's head orchids", comprises about 100 species distributed from Mexico south to Argentina, and with a few species in the West Indies. Although many of the genera and species are extremely rare and thus poorly known, some genera are common and frequently seen in horticulture, especially nowadays that many orchid growers have turned to exotic miniatures. The project sponsored by the Swiss Orchid Foundation is part of an ongoing multidisciplinary study of the Oncidiinae, which is coordinated by Prof. Mark Chase, Keeper of the Jodrell Laboratory at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, and Dr Norris Williams, Keeper of the Herbarium at the Florida Museum of Natural History (FLAS). It involves collaboration of several institutes, among them Universidade Estadual de Feira de Santana, Bahia, Brazil, the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, England, and the Florida Museum of Natural History, USA. The goals of the project are: a) To establish generic relationships within the Ornithocephalus alliance based upon cladistic analysis of both molecular and morphological/anatomical data sets; b) To attempt taxonomic and phylogenetic revisions of the genera of the Ornithocephalus alliance, starting with the largest genera: Zygostates and Ornithocephalus. Elucidation of many taxonomic problems in this alliance requires not only study and sampling of South American and Mesoamerican specimens, but also examination of historical and critical material deposited in many herbaria. The project has greatly benefited from Basel's unique resources and the award received has enabled the applicant to study historical collections deposited in several European herbaria and to conclude a number of scientific papers for publication in refereed journals.

SORA Sponsors 2009

The Swiss Orchid Foundation wishes to thank the following companies for sponsoring the Swiss Orchid Research Award 2009 (in alphabetical order):


Here you can find Dr. de Brito's lecture on his work in orchidology:

A tale of an orchidologist among perfumes, gastronomy, botanical gardens, and rare, neotropical, miniature orchids (pdf, 11.2 MB)