image Coelogyne Kirribilli Nigelimage Coelogyne Kirribilli Nigel

Coelogyne Kirribilli Nigel (2015) is a new primary Coelogyne hybrid plant that I made by cross-fertilising two very dark species plants'.

For years, in the plant world, there have been concepts that tantalise growers. For example, rose growers have always striven to produce a pure blue rose. In the orchid world, the challenge has been to discover or to breed a black orchid. These types of specialised plants evoke images of great wealth and fame and these in turn have led to intriguing novels and stories involving murder, crime and obsession.

In this case, for the pod parent, I chose a dark form of Coelogyne ovalis known by the tag, "Black Lip".  The pollen parent is Coelogyne usitana 'Golden Gate', another Coelogyne that can have a very dark lip. Whilst not expecting a 'black' orchid I aimed to produce a hybrid with dark colouring - especially a dark lip. Amazingly, the results have been very unpredictable and I have not managed to produce the dark orchid that I dreamt of. This reflects the world's lack of experience in hybridising Coelogynes. There is always so much more to learn!

I pollinated this hybrid on 24th April 2009 and flasked it eleven months later on 23rd March 2010. It grew well through the flasking stages and was able to be deflasked after nine months. However, it has taken nearly another five years to flower for the first time on 10th October 2015.

I have been surprised with the amount of white that has carried through when I was wishing for black/dark colouring to predominate. The whitish sepals and petals from Coelogyne usitana have passed down extremely strongly and even joined forces with the sparse white genes from Coelogyne ovalis to pass on some white on the lip and on the outside of the lip - totally suppressing the darker colourings from Coelogyne usitana.

The very dark lip markings of Coelogyne ovalis have been dominated by the tobacco/orange colouring of Coelogyne usitana. Some of the few traits of Coelogyne ovalis to carry through have been the colour and shape of the column, some hints of fimbriation on the lip edges and the similar keels.

The two almost sequentially opening, 5cm wide flowers on a synanthous spike are very similar in habit to Coelogyne ovalis. There is no indication at this stage that Coelogyne usitana's very sequential flowering habit over many months will show through.

Rating: ♦♦♦ Whilst having very little black colouring, this orchid is like a very superior, perky, enhanced Coelogyne ovalis and at this stage I would recommend it over either Coelogyne ovalis or the various forms of Coelogyne fimbriata, unless you are a dedicated collector - in which case you will be compelled to collect this one too!

Registration: Registration with the RHS as Coelogyne Kirribilli Nigel was recorded in October 2015. I have named it after my son, Nigel - the name means black and I had hoped for a famous black orchid. This didn't happen but this orchid is beautiful just like our son Nigel.

Varieties: None known.

Hybrids: None registered

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