Cattleya intermedia

Week 53: Apr 5, 2021

Cattleya intermedia


New candidate for this week is C. intermedia.

This species was discovered by Capt. Graham and described by Hooker in 1828. The distant grandparents of this plant were wild collected. This strain is pure and has none of the loddigesii influence that can be seen in some of the other modern intermedias. This species got its name because it stood halfway in size between labiata and loddigesii. As with many Brazilian species, there are color forms based on lip colors and markings and in the case of aquinii, are repeated in the petals. This plant type is typical for this species. Kew only recognizes all as intermedia.

Previous Awards:

There are 158 AOS awards for this species - 2 FCCs, 74 AMs and 61 HCCs; also one AQ, 14 CCMS, 1 CHM and 5 JCs. The most recent award was an AM/AOS 80 pts (Feb.13, 2021).


There are 4 flowers on one inflorescence. The substance is very firm, and the texture is waxy with a diamond dust finish. Flower segments are white, slightly suffused lavender with a light speckling of purple. The sepals are greenish at their extreme apices. The central lobe of the lip is a brilliant magenta distally to the apex with eight longitudinal stripes extending underneath the column to the base.

Flower Measurements:

NS H - 11.0 cm; NS V -11.6 cm;

Dorsal Sep. W - 2.1 cm; Dorsal Sep. L - 6.9 cm;

Petal W - 2.0 cm; Petals L - 6.5 cm;

Lat/Sepal W - 2.3 cm; Lat/Sepal L - 5.2 cm;

Lip/Pouch W - 3.1 cm; Lip/Pouch L - 6.1 cm.

Judges' Comments

Al Messina (Accredited Judge, Northeast Judging Center)

Four nice (? first bloom) flowers of average size and color well held on one strong, erect inflorescence competing with a massive number of prior awarded clones ranging from multiple JC's through two FCC's. This candidate displays no quality, in my opinion, which suggests 'raising the bar' for a flower award. There is, however, a good future potential with continued good culture as the plant grows to maturity.

Deb Boersma (Student Judge, Great Lakes Judging Center)

Here are my comments regarding the Cattleya intermedia.

I was quite surprised at the variety of lip shapes when I looked at the past awards, they are all stunning flowers. I like the lip shape of this candidate as the side lobes fold over the column, the ruffled edge and the bold contrast of the distal dark lavender colour. The faint spotting on the sepals and petals is nice and the form appears fairly flat, it is symmetrical, some undulation on the petal lower margin but no more than many of the other awarded plants. Flowers are well presented on the inflorescence. Overall, I think this is an elegant flower.

Researching past awards and averaging the past 10 awarded plants with quality awards, this candidate compares in terms of the natural spread but falls short with the sepal and petal widths. Dorsal sepal average width was 2.5 cm compared to 2.1 cm, average petal width was 3.0 cm compared to 2.0 cm and the average lateral sepal width was 2.6 cm compared to 2.3cm. Although size counts for only 10% on the score card, the narrower flower segments result in flower that is not quite as full as other awarded plants. It is less floriferous than the average of 7.3 flowers.

This is a beautiful plant but I would pass and not nominate it at this point.

I have a question, since there are so many awards already for this species, do judges tend not to award a plant even though it is as good as some of the ones already awarded?

I think this candidate is better than some of the HCC awarded plants, but looking at averages it does fall short in terms of petal and sepal width hence a less full flower. To me its a dilemma, seems that it is unfair to this candidate not to nominate because it is better than some of the awarded plants but because there are so many awards already given to the species it makes things more competitive and it seems as though it needs to be really spectacular before it would be nominated.

Your thoughts, experience?



Kristen Mason (Accredited Judge, Cincinnati Judging Center)

I like the fine spotting and the pink flush. The lip form is beautiful and consistent. I love the coloration on the column and staminode. Over all form is good. I like the width of the petals. I do not like the texture of the sepals, it distracts from the grace of the form and make the flowers appear like they are fading. This texture on the sepals is consistent on all of the flowers. I find the lighter squiggles of color in the lip distracting. These squiggles are present on all flowers. Although there are parts of these flowers that are beautiful, due to the texture and color on the lip, I do not feel that these flowers harmonize as a whole. I would pass. Thank you for this lovely flower.

As for Deb's question below - As a general trend, awards can be a moving target, whereas more awards are given on a species or hybrid, often, the bar is increased and it becomes harder to get awards (but not always). In the case of intermedia - it becomes more complicated because of the variability of the species and the many different forms and colors that have been awarded. The flowers presented are a different color form from any other awarded intermedia, which is nice. If I felt this flower was award quality, I would have no problem awarding it.

David Edgley (Accredited Judge, Western Canada Judging Center)

Cattleyas are outside my area of expertise so here goes.

Overall, I find this to be a very attractive flower. The random speckling of color on the sepals and petals adds interest and appeal. The lip is quite attractive and the color is wonderful. The stance of the flowers is attractive. Comparing to the award record, I could award this cultivar a score in the HCC range.


Ramon de los Santos (Accredited Judge, California Sierra Nevada Judging Center)

If the plant is deemed worthy, award it! regardless if that species or hybrid has thousands of awards! Not giving an award just because it has thousands of awards already is just plain laziness. What is important is up the standard for the particular species or hybrid. For example, Paph. rothschildianum another species that has hundreds of awards, Earlier they were awarding plants that has three flowers only with dorsal width of 3 to 5 cm and petal width of 1 cm. Now with the use of better parents and number of F generations improvement. One should award plants that have 4 or more flowers per spike, dorsal width of 6 or more and petal width of 1.5 or more. Same with hybrids. Another thing to consider is the particular variety or form of that species. For example for C. intermedia one particular var. or form should be judged according to that particular var. or form of C. intermedia not as a whole. For each variety or form has its particular characteristics eg. fuller lip, aquinii, alba and etc.


Francisco Miranda (Miranda Orchids, FL)

Thanks for your messages and for valuing my opinion. Unfortunately, I have very little time this weekend so can't really get into any discussions about intermedia, which is a pity really.

However, if the plant on you web page is the one to comment on, I can say it is a very typical native quality intermedia, with typical size, shape, color and number of flowers. When going to visit habitats, I would say that it would be a nice find. But today, with all the improvement breeding on the species (and all other Cattleya species) this is not what I, or most growers of the species in Brazil, am looking for in terms of flower quality.

As I said, unfortunately I won't have a time this weekend to comment on my comment... but will say that you are doing a great job with your web page. Great idea and great execution, congrats.

Take care.


Carol Beule (Accredited Judge, Pacific South Judging Center)

I haven't had the time to look into all of the awards for this plant due to medical issues this past week. However I do want to check in about giving awards to plants that have been around a very long time and have many awards. Before that though.....I want to say that I think this is an especially beautifully formed flower. I didn't check into the normal floriferousness. 4 flowers on one inflorescence might be more than usual. Just my random thoughts tonight. BUT.......

Over the years, many of these species have logically been line bred and improved. The awards that were given even 10 years ago most probably do not match up in shape, size, color and possibly floriferousness with what is now available. Hybridizers have been busy with all Cattleya species. So giving an award to a plant that is highly awarded is definitely warranted if the judges can see an improvement from what has come before. Logically there will be those that match up and those that do not, but I feel it is necessary to award excellence wherever we find it in all ways possible.

Additionally, we are here not only to judge, I believe, but to also give face to the public who rely on us for encouragement. WE represent the AOS in all ways and manners. It seems only logical to me that to be generous to others is a natural way to highlight the AOS's main purpose of promoting all things "orchid"... to paraphrase the stated purpose. WE want more people involved in the AOS and the judging program. Making the face of the AOS accessible goes a long way to promote all the things we stand for. Giving awards to excellence wherever it is seen is important. Withholding praise is counter productive.

Bob Winkley (Accredited Judge, Northeast Judging Center)

Thank you for sending along this lovely, yet challenging candidate.

Our candidate has many things going for it - the flower are well held on the strong inflorescence and flower count is right in the middle of most of the awards; sepals are well-formed, broad, and in the same plane; petals, while appearing narrow within the context of this flower, are well held; lip is beautifully colored and relatively full, especially for a 'type' plant.

For me, while the overall coloration of the sepals and petals is pleasant I find the suffusion of the pink and green tones, as well as the random spotting to be somewhat uneven and detracts from the best qualities of the flower. I would therefore not be inclined to nominate this plant for an award on this flowering.

To answer Deb Boersma's question - The award record for this species is indeed very extensive, not the least reason for this being that C. intermedia has seen extensive line-breeding resulting in improvements in all of the different varieties/forms. I think it is valid to expand the award record with candidates that exhibit awardable qualities that meet all of the criteria for an award. I also think that it's possible for a species or hybrid to reach a new level that recalibrates the standard; when that happens I believe we as a judging community must recalibrate our expectations as well.

Sergey Skoropad (Associate Judge, Northeast Judging Center)

Cattleya intermedia.

Lovely flowers, soft pastel color of petals and sepals and beautiful contrasting purple lip.

With over 150 AOS awards, judging this plant will be a challenge. Which way is the most accurate: compare to existing (preferably recent awards), check the current breeding and see if there’s improvement, or just try to score these flowers and see where it goes.

There’s no question for me that these flowers are inside the range of awarded plants. I will use 3 examples, recently awarded plants:

1. C. intermedia ‘Evangelina’ HCC/AOS 76 pts, Houston JC, April 5, 2019 - 5 flowers on 1 inflorescence, NS 12.1 cm, Dorsal W 1.9 cm, Petals W 1.8 cm, Lat. W 2.3 cm, Lip W 4.1 cm.

2. C. intermedia ‘Canaima’s Patric’ AM/AOS 80 pts, Atlanta JC, March 10, 2018 - 2 flowers on 1 inflorescence, NS 11.0 cm, Dorsal W 2.2 cm, Petals W 2.0 cm, Lat. W 2.4 cm, Lip W 3.2 cm.

3. C. intermedia ‘Bentley’ HCC/AOS 78 pts, Pacific Central JC, April 5, 2016 - 3 flowers on 1 inflorescence, NS 10.3 cm, Dorsal W 1.8 cm, Petals W 2.7 cm, Lat. W 2.4 cm, Lip W 4.4 cm.

If I compare our candidate with just first example - clone ‘Evangelina’ HCC 76 pts, I see that current candidate has less flowers, little smaller flowers and lip is not as wide as awarded. However, compare with second and third, I have a feeling that current candidate inside a range (has little narrow lip, but more flowers, overall with good proportions, well presented). I feel comfortable to see our candidate awarded low HCC.

One of the problems to have many awards - wide range (from 2 to 6 flowers per inflorescence, NS from 9 to 12 cm, lip W from 3.0 to 4.5 cm).

I’m not sure if I will nominate if I compare current candidate to new breeding (I saw much more full flowers on internet, but they are not official examples), however this plant just inside the range of awarded plants by OrchidPro (HCC range).

I would like to see opinions of more experienced judges, especially who’s growing this Cattleya species.

This is a young plant (probably first bloom) and has a lot of potential and I believe will be awardable in the future when mature, produce more flowers and larger flowers.



John Sullivan (Accredited Judge, Northeast Judging Center)

Cattleya intermedia

This candidate presents as an attractive example of a frequently awarded species. It appears to me to be the typical form of C. intermedia rather than any of the named varietal forms. The number of flowers for one inflorescence is about what is expected, and while the color, form and arrangement of this flowering is certainly pleasing to my eye, I see nothing here that raises the bar for the species. In addition, with only one inflorescence on a young plant, a cultural award is not appropriate at this time. In the future it may be a candidate for a cultural award.

Thanks Sergey for continuing these exercises.

Keith Davis (Keith Davis Orchids, NC)

Not being an AOS judge, but one who grows the species and has seen most types, I would like to add some comments towards Deb’s question. I am glad to see that Deb is thinking and wondering about this issue.

First of all, the species is readily available, commonly grown and easy to grow, so there are more available to take to judging than many other species.

Secondly, there is a myriad of color forms which are judged separately from other forms. Probably no other Cattleya species has as many color forms and types as does C. intermedia. Many of the color forms grow

drastically different from other forms, some only inches tall with only 2 or 3 blooms per spike while others are feet tall with 10 or more blooms per spike. You have to know what you are dealing with. It is not as simple as

saying “this is C. intermedia.”

Thirdly, there are now many more 4N/3N forms available that in reality ought to be judged separately from the 2N forms. However, I do not think that this is being done. Many of the 4N are not natural at all, but were

created from chemically treating seedlings to induce ploidy changes. Granted, there are infrequently natural conversions such as mericlone mutations or natural seedling mutation. Today, there is a vast amount of

breeding done to artificially induce extra ploidy so judges will be seeing more of these. The question comes up as how will we come to terms in judging these against the natural form of the species? And then these 4N

were bred to 2N and result in 3N which can look a lot like a 4N, but not breed well. I hope someday to see this recognized and judges treating these differently in judging as compared to the typical 2N forms, such as what we

are looking at this week.

One more item to consider as for the high number of awards is that many awards are upgrades from previously awarded clones. If for example, the plant shown this week was granted an award, it could most certainly be

upgraded later on when the plant matures and displays 2-4 times as many blooms and are larger. I do not think one can say that since there are so many previous awards we need to curtail granting awards when a species like

intermedia is so diverse. I feel that judges should learn what a mature plant of the species/form they are looking at should actually look like and what range of flower count it should be showing. This would cut down on

awards to a species if judges would grant awards to the more mature spectrum of the species rather than the “toddlers”.

I know that sometimes judges get carried away with the “Wow factor”.

For example, when Paph. armeniacum first came on the AOS scene in 1983, the very first award was an FCC. Not sure how one can intelligently award an FCC to the first example of a new species when you have zero to compare it against. Over the next two years, FOUR more FCC’s were granted to the species. Then the AOS began to realize that there was probably more “wow” to the judging than critical and thoughtful judging. Over time, there was much more to compare to, so judging of armeniacum came back to earth and reality. Even so, some judges still fall into the same trap. In 2017, the very first award to C. elongata was granted by the AOS. And like armeniacum, it received an FCC. Granted, the alba color is different than the tipo color, but the color is exactly what one would totally expect from an alba of the species. How can you give an FCC when there is nothing on record to compare it to? AOS judging should not be an impulse factor. This why centers need to have a mature, down to earth, knowledgeable Chair person to keep the train on the tracks.

Anyway, the example of the intermedia this week is nice, but I would want to see it on a mature plant with a mature root system to back it up and judge it as an adult comparing to others of this color form and flower


I have attached a photo of intermedia alba ‘Breckinridge Snow’ AM/AOS and a mericlone mutation of the same that distinctly shows the size difference from doubling the chromosomes. Additionally, I show a peloric intermedia coerulea aquinii that is a 4N. Lastly, shown is a photo of intermediaorlata aquinii 4N and a tipo color form (as our example plant this week), that is a 4N. You can see that the plant shown this week should not be judged on the same plate as the one in the photo.

Keith Davis

C. intermedia 'Breckinridge Snow' 2 N(L), 4 N (R)

C. intermedia aquinni coerulea 'Russ'

C. intermedia 4n aquinii and tipo

Tom Etheridge (Accredited Judge, Pacific Northwest Judging Center)

I don't know whether anyone from our center will comment on the Cattleya. I have not had a chance to review it, so I won't. To Deb's question, though, my position is that if the flower meets the current standard then it should be awarded, even if there are lots of awards. That said, the key here is 'current'. With plants like C. intermedia or Paph. St. Swithin or V. sanderiana or you can easily see that the standard has risen substantially over the decades so we should only be comparing with recent awards when considering the plant on the table and using older awards as a reference for improvement. My reasoning here is two-fold. First, I think that at some point 'improvement' becomes incremental and we shouldn't expect substantial changes. Second, I don't believe a grower should be penalized because the grew an outstanding plant but someone else got to the judging table first. It's not a race. Our region often grants lateral awards, so I think it's safe to say that many other judges here feel the same.

Exhibitor - Bill and Deb Bodei, NJ (Associate Judge, Northeast Judging Center)

Grower's Advice

I spotted this plant from across my greenhouse when it bloomed because it stood out next to another intermedia blooming near it. It was luminous. Then I looked at the label and realized it was one that I had recently gotten from Ken Jacobsen. I knew it was a special plant, and asked him for more info.

The great-grandparents of this plant (or even a generation or two further) were wild plants collected by a famous Brazilian orchidist named Otto Haettenger. It was he who first found and developed many of the varieties of intermedia we see today, and all agree, Brazilians included, that his strains were pure. They had none of the loddigesii influence that can be seen in some of the other modern intermedias. When Haettenger passed, his plants went to Sanders, and in time they went to Alvaro Pessoa who was Ken's friend. Ken and his wife obtained seed from Alvaro and bloomed them. The only AOS AQ ever awarded to this species (in 2012) were a group of these plants Ken and his wife bloomed. The parents of this candidate were the nicest of those AQ plants. Intermedia is described in the book by Fowlie exactly like this plant appears, down to the squiggly lines in the lip and the green tips in the sepals of this plant.

I couldn't respond to Deb's question earlier because this is my plant, but I asked the same question she did early on in the program. It took some time before I wrapped my head around the idea of improvement through line breeding and its effect on a plant being award-worthy. We are asked to judge what is in front of us, so a deserving plant shouldn't be denied an award just because there are already many before it. When I look at species with a high number of awards, I try to make my comparisons to the same variety or color form even if they are not officially recognized as distinct varieties. Same thing goes for other (Brazilian) species, like purpurata. This orlata-type intermedia could never be compared to aquinii because they are so different. When it comes to understanding current breeding improvements, I think the more plants we grow or get to see in person makes it easier for us to recognize one that is awardable.