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.
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
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
(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.