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Cymbidium floribundum

Text by Noe Smith

Cym. floribundum

While most commonly known under its synonym of Cym. pumilum, Cym. floribundum (the recognized botanical name for this species) is one of the most important of the miniature species in terms of the development of miniature and intermediate Cymbidiums as we know them. It is also a most desirable and appealing orchid in its own right, as the accompanying pictures of two beautifully grown and flowered examples illustrate.

Cym. floribundum

Cym. floribundum is a true miniature in every sense of the word, having foliage between 30 and 45 cm. in length, flower scapes of between 15 and 40 cm long and flowers that range from 2 to 4 cm across. The flowers are closely spaced, with between around one dozen to over three dozen per inflorescence. Cym. floribundum is native to China, Taiwan and Japan and grows in varied habitats, including on rocks in shady gorges, in native pine forests and in sunny open locations. It may be found growing as a semi-terrestrial, or as an epiphyte.

Cym. floribundum

As the pictures illustrate, Cym. floribundum can be a most floriferous species and is a rewarding subject in its own right. It is when it is used as a parent in the hybridising of miniature and intermediate Cymbidiums that its true importance is realized.

Cym. floribundum has a number of synonyms, with the name illiberale also in common usage along with pumilum and floribundum. Flower colour ranges from pure colour green through tan to brown and red.

Its cultural requirements are not demanding, with plants growing happily under the conditions suiting the majority of Cymbidium hybrids. Stephen Early, in his reference work on Cymbidium species, notes that it grows happily under shade house conditions in Melbourne and I have seen this species growing well in shade houses in South Australia and New South Wales, confirming its adaptability.

Cym. floribundum

It's clear that these traits of compact and floriferous habit, good flower counts and variety of colour forms, plus ease and adaptability of culture, suggest Cym. floribundum as an ideal subject for hybridising and its success as a parent proves its value.

A check of the RHS registrations shows a total of two hundred and nine registered hybrids using Cym. floribundum (pumilum), with one hundred and twenty nine of those using this species as the pod parent and eighty as the pollen parent. What is more notable than merely the number of hybrids is the grexes produced, many of them being highly successful Cymbidiums and great parents in their own right.

Among the progeny of Cym. floribundum are the following: Beaconfire, Bedivere, Celadon, Celtic Imp, Dolly, Fairy Rouge, Jessie Blakiston, Jimbo Tupp, Katydid, Mary Pinchess, Mimi, Minneken, Morialta, Nip, Olymilum, Pipeta Prolific, Ruby Eyes, Sarah Jean, Summer Clouds and Tom Thumb from the pod parent side.

From the pollen parent side – Dag, Doctor Baker, Mini Splendour, Minuet, Miss Muffet, Nancy Maxwell, Pee Wee, Pumisan, Putana, Tommy and Wakakusa.

Many of the grexes listed have gone on to prove themselves as important parents in their own right. Cym. Ruby Eyes is arguably the most important parent in the production of dark red intermediate Cymbidiums with names such as Aussie Rules, Khairpour, Marilyn Levy, Peggy Foo, Radiant Ruby, Ruby Pendant, Ruby Valley, Street Hawk, Ten Pin and Willunga Regal from its lineage. There are over 90 Cym. Ruby Eyes hybrids registered and it is still in use as a parent today.

Cym. Dolly has some 47 hybrids to its name with offspring such as Gold Madonna, John Gomes, One Tree Hill and Tracey Doll among them, while Cym. Sarah Jean has been one parent in 69 hybrids including Druin Masterpiece, Gowlings Gem, Lady Sarah, Little Sarah, Maluka, Melanie, Mini Dream, Memoria Jaqueline Oyston, Mont Niron and Pure Sarah (to name a few).

With other significant parents stemming from Cym. floribundum including Dag, Doctor Baker, Jessie Blakiston, Jimbo Tupp, Katydid, Mary Pinchess, Minneken, Olymilum, Putana, Summer Clouds and Tom Thumb, it's clear how important Cym. floribundum has been to the development of miniature and intermediate Cymbidiums as we know them. Others may make a case for different miniature species as the most important in the development of modern miniature and intermediate Cymbidium hybrids, perhaps Cym. devonianum comes to mind, but I doubt that any other single miniature species has had the impact of Cym. floribundum.

Cym. floribundum Cym. floribundum

While this in no way constitutes a detailed review of Cymbidium floribundum and its progeny, I hope it gives some insight into this attractive and influential orchid.

Noe Smith

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