Blc. Bryce Canyon   Leave a comment

     Blc. Bryce Canyon is one of the most interesting modern Cattleyas.  It’s color has been described as “raspberry” or “deep magenta” with associated words like “iridescent” or “fluorescent.”  Regardless of how it is described, the color is like no other.  To me, the color is a deep hot pink, but this description fails to capture the fluorescent quality of the color.  The flower appears to glow in the right light, and immediately draws one’s gaze from across the greenhouse, and elicits “oohhs!” and “aaahs!” from even the most jaded orchid grower.

      This color most likely results from the strange combination of C. dowiana and C. percivaliana coming from its parentage of  Blc. Nacost x Blc. Patricia Purves.  Pigments of orchids exist within different layers of the floral tissue, with yellows (from xanthic pigments) typically occurring in deep layers and magentas and reds (from anthocyanin pigments) occurring in the uppermost epidermal layers.  When the yellow of dowiana occurs under the peculiar magenta of percivaliana, this strange glowing pink is produced.  Why pin it on percivaliana?  For several reasons, but mostly because of all of Bryce Canyon’s ancestors, C. percivaliana seems to come closest to producing the coral hot pink color.  Also, the distribution and color of the lip is quite obviously influenced strongly by percivaliana, with its  intense gold throat the diffuses to the magenta edge.

      Since its registration in 1973 by Armacost and Royston, Bryce Canyon has been used to make 144 offspring, and 359 registered progeny through 2011.  Several of these are potentially important plants for producing pinks and very dark magentas.  Hawaiian Blush, Pink Empress, and Chian-Tzy Emperor all represent excellent pinks produced directly from Bryce Canyon; Waianae  Coast and Emily Clarkson represent excellent deep magentas derived from the same.  Unusual colors stem from Bryce Canyon, with awards given out to plants such as Jeremy Island ‘Carmela’ for its grape-purple color, and to Hawaiian Gypsy ‘Ed’  (Chocolate Drop x Bryce Canyon) for its intense amaranth red.  Regardless, the unusual pigment of Bryce Canyon produces deeper color in its offspring, often with the “Bryce Canyon glow.”  It is a confirmed tetraploid, but I have been told it can be difficult to breed with (which may explain the relatively low number of offspring).

   The only awarded clone of Bryce Canyon is ‘Splendiferous’ which received its initial HCC/AOS of 78 points in 1972, and then upgraded in 1979 to an 82 point AM/AOS.  Photographically speaking, the color of this orchid represents one of the hardest to capture, either digitally or on film.  I would hypothesize and attribute this to the idea that the pigments in the flower literally do fluoresce, producing a quality of color that any media is incapable of truly demonstrating.  If you want to see the true color of Bryce Canyon, you will just have to do it in person!

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Posted August 1, 2011 by brianmonk in Orchids

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