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What is Brassocattleya?

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  • Written By: Christian Petersen
  • Edited By: A. Joseph
  • Last Modified Date: 30 October 2016
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Brassocattleya is a northogenera of orchids. A northogenera is a genus artificially created by hybridizing two closely related genera. Brassocattleya orchids were created by crossing orchids from the Brassavola genus and orchids from the Cattleya genus.

Orchids are widely dispersed in nature, and thousands of species comprise the Orchidaceae family. These incredibly diverse flowers are found on every continent except Antarctica, and millions of people around the world collect and cultivate these plants. In the 1700s, orchid culture began to gain popularity in Western Europe as explorers from around the world began to bring back specimens from exotic locales. During the 1800s, the popularity of orchids increased greatly, and orchid hunters and collectors competed to acquire the most exotic, rarest and most unusual orchids.

As collectors and horticulturalists in the 1800s began to learn more about orchids and their culture and cultivation, many began hybridizing orchid species to create new orchids for their collections or for marketing to other collectors. Orchids naturally are very receptive to hybridization, and closely related species are crossed easily. A huge number of new orchids were created over the next 150-plus years through this process, and the number has continued to grow. It is estimated that man has created as many new orchid species through hybridization as are found in nature.

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Orchids from the Brassavola genus and plants from the Cattleya genus were a natural combination for hybridization, because they belong to the same subgroup of orchid species and are similar in many ways. Cattleya orchids have been popular among collectors and orchid enthusiasts for many years, so it was considered very early on as a candidate for hybridization. There are numerous Brassocattleya species — or Brasso-cattleya, as they sometimes are known. A few of the many Brassocattleya species include Brassocattleya binosa, Brassocattleya edna, Brassocattleya keowee and Brassocattleya lindleyana.

Like many orchids, including both parent species, Brassocattleya orchids are epiphitic, which means that they require no soil to grow. If they were found in nature, they would grow on trees, relying on them for support but not for nutrients. Epiphytic plants are not parasites but merely use other plants for an anchor. They thrive in very humid environments and grow air roots that draw moisture from the air. They require very little fertilization, and they glean nutrients from rotting leaves, moss and other organic material trapped by their strong, stiff roots.

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