Last revision 21-Jul-2020
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Phragmipedium besseae Dodson & J. Kuhn
in American Orchid Society Bulletin, 50(11): 1308-1310 (1981).
Synonyms :
Paphiopedilum besseae (Dodson & J. Kuhn) V.A. Albert & Börge Pettersson in Lindleyana, 9(2): 133-139 [137] (1994).
Type(s) :
Etymology : This species is named after Elizabeth Locke Besse who discovered this species in 1981 in Peru during a botanical expedition for the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens.
Plant : The plants have relatively large distances between the individual shoots.
Leaves : The leaves are narrow-elliptic in shape.
Inflorescence : The flowers of this species open successively.
Flower : The petals are quite wide, almost oval in shape. The colour of the flowers varies from bright orange-red to almost strong salmon-red.
Habitat :
Distribution : Department of Morona Santiago, Ecuador and Department of San Martín, Peru.
Flowering Season :
Chromosomes : 2n = 24 (Wimber).
History : The discovery of Phrag. besseae in Peru in 1981 by Elizabeth Besse was one of the most astonishing events in the history of orchid discoveries in the last decades. Elizabeth Besse was together with Joe Halton and Harry Luther, for the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens on a botanical expedition in Peru, when along the road from Tarpato to Yurimaguas, she came across some slipper orchids. She took some photos and prepared herbarium material from the plants. She also collected some living specimens for the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens in Sarasota, Florida, U.S.A.. At first it was believed that they had made the first discovery of Phrag. schlimii at the east side of the Andes. Imagine their surprise when the collected plants showed their first flower in the botanical garden. The striking red colour of the flower, which is unique among the slipper species, together with other features of the flower made it clear that they had found a completely new species. This new species was described in the American Orchid Society Bulletin in 1981 by Calaway H. Dodson and Janet Kuhn as Phrag. besseae after its discoverer.
Unfortunately after the publication so many plants were collected in an irresponsible manner that at the original site in Peru the plants are now considered to be extinct. It is fortunate though that later new growing sites were discovered in Peru and also in Ecuador.
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