Cover Story

Paphiopedilum Neptune 'Mars' AM/AOS

Richard E. Fleig

This article first appeared in The AOS Bulletin, October 1980; Vol 49, No.10, pg 1093.

Used with permission of the author, 2004.

An early hybrid of the ever-popular Paphiopedilum rothschildianum with Paphiopedilum Io (itself a primary hybrid of Paph. argus and Paph. lawrenceanum), Paphiopedilum Neptune was registered by Sander in 1896. But, as is the case with many hybrids of this genus made and registered at a time when the rules of nomenclature were not well-defined, confusion and doubt persist concerning the veracity of the parentage of this particular plant.

Paphiopedilum Neptune 'Mars' was presented by Carl and Imogene Keyes, now of Arroyo Grande, California, before the American Orchid Society judges in Los Angeles on October 13, 1969, at which time it received the coveted Award of Merit. The varietal name 'Mars' was assigned at that time to help clarify the confusion caused by Sander when he listed the name "Cypripedium Mars" as a synonym of "Cypripedium Neptune". Where the name "Mars" originated is a mystery to me.

We are aware of some debate concerning the accuracy of the name Paphiopedilum Neptune as it relates to the cover flower. Some people feel that the combination of Paphiopedilum rothschildianum and Paphiopedilum Io could not result in a flower which looks like this subject. And, to confuse matters still further, our friends Gary Turpin and Fred Jernigan of San Leandro, California, from whom we originally obtained this plant, recently flowered two other Paphiopedilum rothschildianum offspring concurrently with Paph. Neptune 'Mars' and noted remarkably similar, almost identical, flowers from all three. These two other plants were Paphiopedilum Callo-rothschildianum 'Rodco' HCC/AOS (callosum x rothschildianum) and Paphiopedilum Black Prince 'Isao', HCC/AOS (Hera x rothschildianum). That all three crosses could have produced nearly identical flowers is highly unlikely (Paph. Hera is Paph. boxalli x Paph. Leeanum); some might say impossible. So, which is which will probably remain a mystery.

Under whatever name Paphiopedilum Neptune 'Mars' is a strikingly beautiful flower, as the cover photograph clearly shows. It generally produces three to four flowers per tall erect spike; the flowers are large (up to 14 cm in natural spread) and richly colored. This plant was photographed blooming in August 1979, using Ektachrome 50 Professional 4" x 5" sheet film and a Sinar camera with a 210mm Schneider lens. This flowering provided the opportunity to experiment with some hybridization, since to date no crosses have been registered with Paphiopedilum Neptune as a parent. We attempted crossing Paphiopedilum Neptune 'Mars' with Paph. Daisy Barclay 'Warburton', FCC/AOS, itself a primary Paph. rothschildianum hybrid with Paph. godefroyae, without success, but we are able to set a pod and harvest seed of Paph. Psyche 'Mill Valley', HCC/AOS, x Paph. Neptune 'Mars'. Seedlings of the latter cross are now in mother flasks. Obviously we are anxious to see what Paphiopedilum Neptune 'Mars' AM/AOS will produce in its progeny.


Copyright 2004 AOS Pacific Central Judging Center