The REAL RED story

By John Woolf and Lorraine Fagg (Orchids Australia April 2000)

From a chance discovery to being a major influence on hybrids within the Sarcochilus alliance -that's the story of Sarcochilus fitzgeraldii 'Lorraine' AD/AOC-VOC.

Lorraine Fagg and some friends were out photographing Sarco. fitzgeraldii in situ in a ravine in northern New South Wales about 1976. Some huge specimens were seen as well as some quite colourful clones.

While taking a breather on a rather large rock, Lorraine spotted a poor little four-growth seedling withering away not far from her. The plant was pretty much on its way to plant heaven. Rather than let it perish, Lorraine took it home for some badly needed R and R. Had she not, this famous clone most likely would have perished. The little seedling had not yet flowered so no one knew its worth or the influence it would have on hybrids within the Sarcochilus alliance.

The plant very slowly recovered over the next few years and bloomed a nice pink. With each subsequent blooming the flowers became darker pink then red.

Sarcochilus fitzgeraldii 'Lorraine' AD/AOC-VOC selfed. Note the wide variation in colours and patterns on the blooms.

 The reason for this has not yet been found but it is also a fea ture of many of its progeny. By far, the best and darkest blooms appear when the plants are mature. Another feature is the seasonal changes to the colour of Sarco. fitzgeraldii 'Lorraine' AD/AOC-VOC.

Some years the blooms are solid red; in other years they are mottled with white. Lorraine said whenever visitors came to view her plants she would hide 'Lorraine' in her bedroom.

About 20 years ago Lorraine selfed Sarco. fitzgeraldii 'Lorraine' and grew on many of the seedlings. The subsequent flowering of these seedlings has given an insight into what will, and has, happened when using Sarco. fitzgeraldii 'Lorraine' AD/AOC-VOC as a parent. Some of the seedlings grew well and bloomed. Nearly all were in the spotted colours. About 10 years from deflasking, the solid red clones began to bloom, 'Red Sky', 'Red Magic' and `Firecracker'. As time marched on the superb reds such as 'Lorraine's Jewel', 'Samantha Joy' and `Crackerbox' bloomed. Now, 19 years from deflasking, many of the original selfings are still to bloom while a few are still the size they were when they arrived in this world. So, going on the pretence that the blooms are getting bigger, darker and more shapely as the slower seedlings bloom what will these that are left produce? Supernaturals? Oh, what a thought!

Now to the Sarco. fitzgeraldii 'Lorraine' AD/ AOC-VOC breeding, first with other Sarco. fitzgeraldii. When using 'Lorraine' with her red children, we get very, very slow growers that will, I believe, eventually produce solid reds (in 10-20 years). To give solid reds that will bloom in a much shorter time we have used Sarco. fitzgeraldii 'Lorraine' AD/AOC-VOC onto clones such as `50c', 'The Clown', Red Eye' and 'Good Pink'.

                 The results:

Sarco. fitzgeraldii 'Lorraine AD/AOC-VOC x `50'. The seedlings bloomed in 50mm pots only a couple of years from deflasking and are as large as the pollen parent with a very dark purple eye covering more than two thirds of the bloom.

Sarco. fitzgeraldii 'Lorraine' AD/AOC-VOC x 'The Clown'. The seedlings also bloomed in 50mm pots only a couple of years from deflasking and have been of superb shape. They are a little larger than their parents in super spotted colours with a percentage of solid reds appearing from the slower growing seedlings.

Sarco. fitzgeraldii 'Lorraine' AD/AOC-VOC x 'Red Eye'. The seedlings also bloomed in 50mm pots only a couple of years from deflasking and have given heavily spotted blooms with the very distinctive 'Red Eye'. A percentage of solid reds appear from the slower growing seedlings.

Sarco. fitzgeraldii 'Lorraine' AD/AOC-VOC x 'Good Pink'. The results were very similar to 'The Clown' but slightly smaller blooms. A percentage of solid reds also appeared from the slower growing seedlings.

  The hybrids:

Sarco. Fitzhart (hartmannii x fitzgeraldii 'Lorraine' AD/ AOC-VOC). Using Sarco. fitzgeraldii `LorTaine' AD/AOC-VOC gives, in a way, similar results to the selfings. The first to bloom was of normal colouring, then as the slower seedlings bloom the heavily marked and solid red clones appear as in the clone 'Florafest Magic'. The trouble is, unless you do the flasking yourself you do not know which are the first replated and which are the last, or slower to germinate seedlings.

Another interesting observation is that many of the hybrids from Sarco. fitzgeraldii 'Lorraine' AD/ AOC-VOC have racemes where the flower colour and intensity of spotting darkens, terminating to almost solid red blooms. I find this an attractive feature, but it does give the judges some headaches. This also happens with Sarco. Bernice Klein, Sarco. Cherie, Sarco. Heidi, Sarco. Sweetheart and others.

Sarco. Bernice Klein (Heartlight x fitzgeraldii `Lorraine' AD/AOC-VOC). Again, when using Sarco. fitzgeraldii 'Lorraine' AD/AOC-VOC the result is simply beautiful blooms, heavily spotted with dark red centres to the occasional dark red. Sarco. Cherie (Fitzhart x fitzgeraldii 'Lorraine' AD/AOC-VOC). Using Sarco. fitzgeraldii 'Lorraine' AD/AOC-VOC gives superb, heavily spotted blooms with a greater number of solid reds if Sarco. fitzgeraldii `Lorraine' AD/AOC-VOC was also in the Sarco. Fitzhart. Sarco. Melody (Melba x fitzgeraldii 'Lorraine' AD/AOC-VOC).

Using Sarco. fitzgeraldii 'Lorraine' AD/AOC-VOC gives large blooms, some with a violet/pink spot-ting and out of the slower leftovers solid reds as in the clone 'Red Glory'. This shows how strong the red colour of using Sarco. fitzgeraldii 'Lorraine' AD/AOC-VOC is to overcome the white dominance of Sarco. Melba.

Sarco. Elizabeth (Lois x fitzgeraldii 'Lorraine' AD/AOC-VOC). These are of a dark plum red and of exceptional substance.

Parachilus Issy's Rainbow (Prcls. Selwyn x Sarco. fitzgeraldii 'Lorraine' AD/AOC-VOC). This cross gave a good variety of colours from lightly spotted to heavily marked and a few solid red clones.

Sarco. Shooting Star (australis x fitzgeraldii `Lorraine AD/AOC-VOC). This produced long, pendulous racemes of starry red blooms. Nearly all seedlings are red, the only difference appears to be the intensity of the red.

Sarco. Starstruck (Southern Cross x fitzgeraldii `Lorraine' AD/AOC-VOC). This has been a superb cross with many colours - whites, spotted whites and reds, caramel, light orange, burnt orange to solid reds. Some are the shape of Southern Cross while others area full, round shape. We have remade this cross 20 times with different Sarco. fitzgeraldii. Rhinochilus Rona (Rhinerrhiza divitiflora x Sarco. fitzgeraldii 'Lorraine' AD/AOC-VOC). The result of this cross was long racemes of starry blooms, almost all burnt red colours, making superb speciment plants.

Rhincs. Lava Burst (Rhincs. Dorothy x Sarco. fitzgeraldii 'Lorraine AD/AOC-VOC). These have given a range of colours from golds with dark red centres to slid dark burnt reds.

The future:

These are only a few of the crosses made with Sarco. fitzgeraldii 'Lorraine' AD/AOC-VOC and there are many more crosses in the pipeline. One in particular still to bloom is Sarco. fitzgeraldii 'Lorraine' AD/AOC-VOC x First Light. There should be some superb reds and oranges among the progeny. So when you next visit the nursery, don't always look for the big robust seedlings. Take a sprinkling of different looking plants. Some people like the wide, rounded leaf plants. Good ones have appeared from them but there also have seen some "corkers" from narrow leaf plants. People ask why we have such a collection of fine red clones. I suppose it's because of the quantity we flower, but then, we get stuck with all the runts, don't we!

      The superb, heavily spotted blooms of Sarco. Cherie 'Striker'.





Sarco. Fitzhart 'Florafest Magic', Sarco. Elizabeth and Sarco. Cherie 'Striker' owned by Florafest Orchids. All other plants pictured owned by Lorraine Fagg.

(From: Orchids Australia April 2000)