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The Blossom Paphiopedilum
The genus name Paphiopedilum is derived from Paphos (a city in Greece, where the Greek goddess of love and beauty, Aphrodite, rose from the see as her birth.) and ancient Greek pedilon “slipper” due to their unusual shape of the pouch-like labellum of the flower. They are also commonly known as the Lady’s slipper orchid, or by the abbreviation paphs.
Paphiopedilum genus, native to Southeast Asia, are comprised of 80 species with various forms and colors of their flowers. Although they may not look as splendid as other orchid families, the paphiopedilums still play a critical role in horticulture with their impressive variety of unique flower shapes and spectacular colorful spots. They could be briefly categorized by their leaves (green leaves or spotted leaves), flowers (mono-flower or multi-flower) and growth temperature (low-temperature oriented or high-temperature oriented). Taiwan, a subtropical island, provides a good environment for culturing those high-temperature oriented paphs.
In Taiwan, the paphiopedilums are widely spread by their active fans breeding new bold innovations, and become one of the new favorite champions in orchid competitions. According to Washington Convention (CITES) since 1963, Paphs were listed as an endangered plant and trade in native species was strictly prohibited. Reacting to the international agreement, Council of Agriculture (COA) officially launched the Regulation System for Exportation and Registration of Artificial Cultivation of Cypripedioideae, which had made a breakthrough in trade of protected plants and boosted the Paphiopedilum industry development by encouraging artificial hybrids exportation. With the total cultivation area and yields raising year by year, the Lady’s slipper orchid has followed up with Moth orchids ( Phalaenopsis) to be a new beloved orchid flower.
Taiwan Seed Improvement and Propagation Station (TSIPS) aimed to develop in vitro seed germination for Paphiopedilum in recent years. Technicians selected potential hybrids among various species, and maximized the production of novel offspring by micropropagation. The offspring with best phenotypes were cloned by cutting the growing point in lateral buds, or induceing from its flower buds. Based on these good practices of plant tissue culture, Paphiopedilum nurseries could be optimized and standardized for public sales. Hopefully, the Lady’s slipper orchids would become a supernova in our orchid industry.