Cattleya purpurata (Werkhauseri)

Week 84: July 5, 2022

Cattleya purpurata (Werkhauseri)

New candidate for this month is Cattleya purpurata (Werkhauseri). This is C. purpurata time.

Cattleya purpurata, Lindl. & Paxton 1855, previously known as Laelia purpurata, growing in SE part of Brazil. There are several color forms of this species. Kew only recognizes all as Cattleya purpurata.

Previous Awards:

There are 15 AOS awards for this species (Werkhauseri). Total are 101 AOS awards for Cattleya purpurata all color forms!


There are 4 flowers on one unstaked inflorescence 28-cm tall.

Flower Measurements:

NS H - 17.0 cm; NS V -15.5 cm;

Dorsal Sep. W - 2.2 cm; Dorsal Sep. L - 10.0 cm;

Petal W - 4.5 cm; Petals L - 8.5 cm;

Lat/Sepal W - 2.0 cm; Lat/Sepal L - 9.0 cm;

Lip/Pouch W - 4.0 cm; Lip/Pouch L - 7.0 cm.

Judges' Comments

Dave Off (Waldor Orchids, NJ)

So I like this flower. The size is good and the erect dorsal is very pleasing. Also, the slight striata venation in the petals is nice.

That being said, I cannot get over the gap between the dorsal and petals. The down swept petals are a hang up here. 10 years ago, this would be a high HCC/low AM for me. But I think that improvements have been made to produce fuller petals with better stance that more closely fit what the AOS looks at when considering Cattleya blooms. I say this as someone who likes "natural" type flowers, but from the AOS judging perspective of looking for full flowers. I would not be able to score this.

Dave Off

Kristen Mason (Accredited Judge, Cincinnati Judging Center)

The lips are beautiful, I love the contrast of the yellow throat with the striations and deep purple midlobe; the light striations in the petals and the pristine white are lovely; size is good, flower count is a little low; texture is problematic as is the condition of the flowers; Thank you for sharing this striking color variety of purpurata. In its present condition, I would pass.


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

This particular C. purpurata has nice lip coloration and some faint striation on the petal. Good size and well-arranged number of flowers. Petal stance is a little droopy and dorsal sepal is recurving which on today standards is not as acceptable as before. This may be due to the heat wave we are experiencing that causes the flower to droop. I will pass judging this flowering and bring it on a better flowering.

Ramon de los Santos

Accredited Judge

Al Messina (Accredited Judge, Northeast Judging Center)

Four nicely presented pretty flowers of good size, form and arrangement. Color suboptimally saturated.

This plant would have received a mid level AM in long ago years past, but today it's a philosophical toss up for a judge.

Does one award a flower/plant on its own merits, thus adding additional lateral awards? Must a plant be a definitive improvement and limit awards only to superior plants in a massive competitive environment? There are well over 200 AOS awards and almost 500 total international awards to purpurata. While over a dozen awards are to the coerulea form, the bar is quite high. I think this plant qualifies for a low/mid level HCC but I would not be the first to nominate it. In time, with increased flower count and increased color saturation,

a low AM could be achieved, in my opinion.

Tom Mirenda (Accredited Judge, Hawaii Judging Center)

One of my favorite line-bred color forms of this variable species…

While this flower is on the large side and has lovely coloration including a well saturated lip…and flares in the petals

I fear the form of this individual, especially the petals, is very droopy and not quite up to snuff for this highly awarded species.

It does have a fine dorsal which is often a problem for these….but without a better stance on the petals, I wouldn’t nominate

Ben Oliveros (Accredited Judge, Hawaii Judging Center)

I would call this a striata as well. Looks very nice. The petals a bit

too downswept but acceptable. Otherwise the shape is pleasing. Good

shape and color to the lip. Not excessively rolled sepals. Size matters

on these too I think. My awarded one was quite large.



Deb Boersma (Student Judge, Great Lakes Judging Center)

Cattleya purpurata (Werkhauseri)

A beautiful white flower with nice contrasting violet veining and color on the lip on a well grown plant.

In terms of form, the dorsal is rolled basally but this is typical of the species. The petals narrower and are not held as horizontal as some of the other awarded plants, somewhat obscuring the lateral sepals, increasing the fenestration between the dorsal sepal and the petals, resulting in a flower that is not as full and balanced as others awarded. The flower appears to be past it’s prime, deliquescing at the petal and lip margins and has some darker blemishes on the lateral sepals.

I like the color of the lip but it is not as intense compared to other awards, in particular “Shogun’s Silver Giant’.

Flowers are nicely arranged and presented on the inflorescence, floriforessness and flower size are within range of other awards.

On this flowering I would not nominate this plant for a quality award.

Pamela Noll (Student Judge, Alamo Judging Center)

Thank you for sending us the Cattleya purpurata Werkhauseri for evaluation in July. Comparing it to many AOS awarded pupuratas was an interesting exercise because the subject flower was very similar in size of segments to many of them. However, this flower seems to me to lack color on the lip and petal striations, appearing washed out. Four flowers was a good effort on a second bloom plant, even though the particular flower is past its prime. I would like to see the petals held more horizontally for maximum impact of its impressive natural spread.


Pamela Noll

Ginna Plude (Associate Judge, Northeast Judging Center)

This looks like a young plant or a new division of an older plant. The size & count are very much in line with previous awards (as you noted, there are many). Overall the flowers are very pretty, however the stance of the petals I'd like to see a bit higher and less reflexed. The lip is attractive, though less intensely colored that a plant we saw recently in Boylston. Given the award history this plant is up against I wouldn't be nominating it on this flowering but future flowerings may be stronger.


Cesar Uchima (Associate Judge, Dallas Judging Center)

The following are my comment about this nice Cattleya purpurata:

Dorsal sepal upright and nice lip as it expected. Petals are close to lateral sepals and it does not allow a separation between segments. This arrangement does not make a flower balance, so I would pass.

Thank you,

Best Regards,


Elena Skoropad (Associate Judge, Northeast Judging Center)

According to AOS OrchidPro database C. purpurata has 262 awards!

The modern standards are high, we expect full petals, good fenestration and high flower count per inflorescence 4-5 plus flowers. Also, we want to see good substance and flower form consistency. The candidate plant has good size but it seems to be lacking good substance (perhaps it is almost done blooming). The plant has kind of narrow petals/sepals but the dorsal holds upright well. The color is fading and there is some mechanical damage on the edges of petals. I would not nominate this plant for a flower award on this bloom. However, the plant has a potential, this is definitely a keeper. Please grow it (it is a young plant) and bring it next year!

Thank you,

Elena S

Alan Koch (Accredited Judge, California-Sierra Nevada Judging Center)

This species shows the need for judges to travel more than any other Cattleya. Having been to Brazil several times judging Cattleya purpurata where we see thousands of this species and awarding several the standards have changed. Far too many judging centers still award plants of poor form. Modern purpurata plants have flatter flowers with better confirmation. This plant although having pleasing color has terrible form. There are several examples of flat full plants that have been awarded in the past, but several judging centers still award plants of poor shape. This is case where the AOS judging community needs to have a Webinar by Francisco Miranda, as every show I have been to in Brazil, he has been there too. I have attached a picture of a 21cm Werkhauseri I picked up in Brazil 30 plus years ago from a cross of 'Splendida' x 'Suberba' that changed this form forever. Mendez talks about this cross in her book on Laelia purpurata. Mike Blietz from Exotic Orchids of Maui and I both wonder why judges are still awarding these flowers of poor form since plants are on record with great form. I would guess that the majority of judges will pass on this plant as it is virtual judging, unfortunately when judging in person this species has what I call the rothschildianum factor. That large stately flower that wows the judges


Mary Cash (Student Judge, Alamo Judging Center)

Four flowers are displayed on one unstacked inflorescence. The flowers appear graceful and well-presented. The number of flowers are just a little short of the average number of flowers on one inflorescence. The sepals and petals are pristine white with a brush of lavender. The flower has an impressive large smoky lavender lip. Petals appear to be reflexing slightly. The sepals, petals and lip are quickly fading. The Cattleya purpurata is an impressive large-flowered laelia-cattleya, which has been a parent at one time or another in more than 90 percent of all Laeliocattleya hybrids.

Exhibitor - Bill Stender, NJ

Grower's Advice

Dear judges,

Thanks for taking the time to judge my first bloom purpurata. I originally purchased this plant as a seedling in a 1.5” pot form Miranda Orchids when he spoke at North Jersey Orchid Society at least 5 years ago (maybe more). It resides with several hundred other Cattleyas in my greenhouse and gets the same highlight and watering as the rest. It is towards the front of the greenhouse so it probably gets more light than most. My typical culture is high water and fertilizer during spring and summer with tapering off during fall and winter months. I just gave its first repot in about 3 or 4 years so it may take a step backwards but I still think the flower quality may improve as the plant matures. Again thank you for the time and experience you give to your judging efforts.