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Swiss Orchid Foundation
at the Herbarium Jany Renz

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

© 2015 Swiss Orchid Foundation

Botanical Institute
University of Basel

SORA Awardee 2014

Prof. Dr. Cássio van den Berg

Universidade Estadual de Feira de Santana
Feira de Santana

Project: Cattleya

John Lindley described Cattleya labiata in 1824, calling it "...the handsomest species of the order we have ever seen alive....". Since then, the beauty of Cattleya orchids has charmed scientists and orchid growers alike. Initially, in the first half of the 19th century, these wonderful plants were rare in European orchid collections. However, in Victorian times they were imported in their thousands, as new species were discovered in the humid forests of the Andes and mountains of south-eastern Brazil. At the time, Cattleyas were largely responsible for the rapid rise of interest in orchid-growing in Europe that shaped modern horticulture, but at the expense of over-collection, which nearly wiped out some species in their natural environments. Two showy and popular orchid genera, Laelia and Sophronitis, with even more species were recognised early on as closely related to Cattleya because of their morphology and pollination biology, but their relationship to Cattleya was not firmly established until the beginning of the 21st century, when the DNA revolution in plant systematics reached orchids. Based on DNA data, the genus Cattleya was expanded to include both Laelia and Sophronitis, so that the genus now has over a hundred species, the majority from eastern Brazil. The large number of Cattleya species is the result of many different evolutionary constraints, such as the dispersal between isolated patches of habitats, adaptation to different altitudinal ranges, the move from trees to rocky habitats, and different pollinators. Many species are naturally rare, known only from small areas. Cattleya species grow in diverse habitats such as humid and dry forests, exposed rocks, and sand dunes. The species with the largest flowers are epiphytes in large trees in rainforests, while the smaller ones grow in direct sunlight in small crevices on rocks. Today, the accelerated deforestation and destruction of rocky habitats by mining are the main threats for these species.


Here you can find Prof. Dr. van den Berg's presentation on his work with Cattleyas:

SORA Sponsors 2014

The Swiss Orchid Foundation wishes to thank the following companies for sponsoring the Swiss Orchid Research Award 2014 (in alphabetical order):

SORA 2014 Award Presentation

The Award is presented to Prof. Dr. van den Berg by Dr. Thomas Renz.