Maxillaria sophronitis

Week 39: Dec 21, 2020

Maxillaria sophronitis

This week I would like to present Maxillaria sophronitis.

Maxillaria sophronitis (Rchb. f.) Garay 1958, also called as The Sophronitis-Like Maxillaria. Found in Venezuela and northeastern Colombia cloud forest at altitude of 2,460 - 5,577 feet (750 to 1,700 meters) as a draft sized, mat forming, cool to warm growing species.

Previous Awards:

There are 8 AOS awards dated from 1977 to 2013: 5 CCM Awards, 1 HCC, 1 JC and 1 CBM (CHM).

Interesting range of the flowers in cultural awards: from 27 flower and 20 buds in 1977 to 122 flower and 3 buds in 2013.


Current candidate has approximately 152 flowers and 21 buds on 173 inflorescences. Plant is 28 x 33 cm wide and 10 cm tall.

Flower Measurements:

NS H - 1.8 cm; NS V - 2.0 cm;

Dorsal Sep. W - 0.7 cm; Dorsal Sep. L - 1.0 cm;

Petal W - 0.5 cm; Petals L - 0.5 cm;

Lat/Sepal W - 0.7 cm; Lat/Sepal L - 1.3 cm;

Lip/Pouch W - 0.4 cm; Lip/Pouch L - 0.9 cm.

Judges' Comments

Al Messina (Accredited Judge, Northeast Judging Center)

With 173 flowers and buds on a very well grown plant, this qualifies for a high CCM now, perhaps CCE on next bloom. The grower should be congratulated for blooming this notoriously difficult species. Because the cultural awards recognize the grower's abilities and results, and, in fairness, the grower was aware that submission of this plant 'does not count' for the record, should the grower exhibit this to an official in-person judging, the foliage needs to be as clean as possible. There are obvious traces of previous dissolved solids on virtually every leaf which should be removed prior to official judging. The award will surely be worth time invested.

Carrie Buckman (Associate Judge, Northeast Judging Center)

Maxillaria Sophronitis

Nicely grown plant. I wish the plant leaves had been cleaned before presenting it for [virtual] judging as they appear to have a whitish residue perhaps from hard water or insecticide?

The flowers are pretty standard for this species and are smaller than the awarded HCC. So, I would not consider this plant for a flower quality award.

This plant is a candidate for a cultural award with sufficient flowers count, and bloomed circumferentially, though there are areas of high flower concentration. So it is not “evenly” flowered. If the leaves had been cleaned, I’d happy nominate it and score it in the low 80’s

Kind Regards,

Carrie Buchman

Deb Boersma (Student Judge, Great Lakes Judging Center)

Maxillaria sophronitus

This looks like a well grown healthy plant with blooms well distributed around the plant. The size of the plant is smaller than the ‘Free Spirit’ cultivar that was awarded a CCM in 2006, it measured 54 cm by 40cm, however this candidate has far more flowers than ‘Free Spirit’. There is limited information on OP on the plant size for the other cultural awards. It is more floriferous than all other awarded plants. Based on the plant size, health and floriferousness I would have nominated this plant for a CCM if it had been better groomed. Water marks very evident on most of the leaves.

In terms of a flower quality award, I really like the intense red colour of the flowers with the contrasting orange lip much better than the cultivar ‘Karlene’ that received an HCC 78. However, the flowers on ‘Karlene‘ are much flatter and larger both in natural spread and the individual flower parts than this candidate. The photos of our candidate show a fairly cupped dorsal sepal. Considering the smaller flower size and the form of the candidate plant I would have to pass on a flower quality award.

Bob Winkley (Accredited Judge, Northeast Judging Center)

Thank you so much for sending along one of my all time favorite species - and right in time for the holidays with its beautiful green foliage and brilliant scarlet flowers!

This species - or at least certain cultivars of the species - has been known to be a shy or a sparse bloomer. In addition, some plants are less compact in their growth habit, putting a bit of distance between each of the growths. This particular plant appears to be very happy, reasonably free-flowering, and has a much more pleasant compact growth habit.

The candidate plant is beautifully grown and spectacularly flowered, both in overall numbers of flowers/buds as well as the flowers being evenly displayed around the plant. My only quibble with this plant is that there appears to be a fair amount of residue on what would be otherwise very pristine foliage.

There's no doubt in my mind that the candidate deserves recognition for culture and I would be inclined to point it right around 90 points.

All the best!

Bob W.

Ginna Plude (Associate Judge, Northeast Judging Center)

This is a lovely plant and clearly very well grown. It looks pretty evenly flowered as well. I would definitely nominate it for a culture award. The plant is comparable to 'Red Sparks' which received a CCM of 86 pts and I think this plant is in that range. Unfortunate that the leaves are not clean because grooming does factor in for CCMs, though it would be a pain to clean all those leaves. It looks like either fertilizer or other treatment.

John Sullivan (Accredited Judge, Northeast Judging Center)

Maxillaria sophronitis

This weeks candidate presents a stunning display of flowers of remarkably uniform distribution. Having received one of the early awards to this species, I know that some clones are reluctant bloomers. The fact that there is only one flower quality award is indicative of the fact that the individual flowers of Maxillaria sophronitis are not the factor which creates an impact on the observer. The entire package of red gem-like flowers tucked among the foliage is what we see.

I believe that the grower has done a remarkable job and deserves recognition for superior culture. I am not sure what the upper limit of size or number of flowers is for this difficult species, but I believe a high CCM is in order-possibly a CCE.

Thank you Sergey for continuing with these exercises!

Elena Skoropad (Associate Judge, Northeast Judging Center)

Beautifully grown specimen plant!

It’s very difficult to grow it and keep alive this Maxillaria.

There are 9 awards, CCM, HCC and JC. First JC was given in 1965. Our candidate has more flowers and buds than all other awarded plants and should be considered for a culture award. The plant is beautifully grown circumferentially, flowers evenly distributed on all sides, few leaves could be groomed a little more in order to be considered for CCE. I would nominate this plant for culture award and I would be in mid to high CCM range.

Great job - kudos to grower!



Sergey Skoropad (Associate Judge, Northeast Judging Center)

Maxillaria sophronitis.

This is fantastic plant. Very well grown, good number of the flowers compared to the size of the plant!

Out of 9 AOS awards I found only one flower quality award (HCC 78 pts) and 2 JC. All other awards are cultural!

It’s difficult to say if these flowers can be granted quality award (probably yes), I think it’s all depends not just on size of the flowers but on how they consistent it their shape! And how the flowers are distributed around this plant.

However, I have no problem to nominate this plant for cultural award: with 152 flowers and 21 buds (approximately, I believe few flowers/buds still hidden under leaves) this plant could receive high CCM, or possibly CCE! The largest specimen has 122 flowers and 3 buds (CCM 84 pts), awarded in 2013, however cultivar ‘Karen’ awarded CCM 82 pts with just 49 flowers and 3 buds in 1986!

I can see some hard water or salt buildups on the leaves and I take few points off. However, this plant is very fine example of maxillaria sophronitis and doesn’t change my opinion to score 88 to 90 pts!



Laura Newton (Accredited Judge, Florida North Central Judging Center)

For the Maxillaria sophronitis, on first glance it is very well grown and quite floriferous. I like that you can see the flowers fairly well and that the entire plant looks covered quite nicely. I do not the water/calcium spotting on the leaves and while some will say that it would preclude it for scoring, in my opinion, it would just cause me to not score it as highly, as to me there is a difference between growing well and grooming. It is grown well and well deserving of an award to the grower. Were it groomed better, it would score higher, but I would certainly nominate this for a cultural award given the amount of flowers and size of the plant.

I don’t really see a photo that is straight on to get the true view of the symmetry, but in the best close-up photo and the nice width of the measurement of the parts, I could certainly see granting this flower an HCC.

Laura Newton

AOS Award Registrar

Deb Bodei (Associate Judge, Northeast Judging Center)

Thank you for including my commentary. What a wonderful candidate!

Maxillaria sophronitis


It is really nice to see this specimen with the photos and video so well done. I only wish I could have seen it in person.

This plant is beautifully grown, flowered and displayed. Last awarded ‘Linda Jean’ looks similar to this plant comparing the size of the plant to the number of flowers. What was misleading about the description of the prior-awarded plant was that the size of mount was given but not the size of the plant itself. If not careful it could be easy to think the prior-awarded has more flowers unless the photo was closely studied. It is even possible looking at the two plants that the candidate is even more floriferous. The blooms are even more well presented in the candidate.

The flower has that brilliant color of this species and is even a little larger in the segments which makes the lovely blooms pop even more among the immaculate leaves of this specimen.


I would nominate this candidate for both a cultural award and a flower award and expect a high CCM and an AM 80-82.

Exhibitor - Longwood Gardens, PA (orchid grower - Greg Griffis)

Virtual Award Description

One hundred and fifty two intensely colored, slightly cupped flowers and twenty one buds on 173 inflorescences, ascend with an upward reach above dark green lanceolate foliage on a 28-cm long by 33-cm wide and 10-cm tall plant grown in bark mix (bark, charcoal and perlite) in a 20-cm terra-cotta pot wrapped in Spanish moss; lanceolate sepals and petals bright red-orange, apices mucronate apiculate, dorsal sepal slightly hooded, petals embracing lip and column; lip yellow with pale orange picotee, margins erose; substance heavy; texture crystalline.