Stanhopea (saccata x intermedia)

Week 86: September 5, 2022


(saccata x intermedia)

New candidate for this month is Stanhopea (saccata x intermedia). This is unregistered cross.

Stanhopea saccata, Baterman 1840, is accepted species by WCSP, Kew from Mexico and Guatemala. Stanhopea intermedia Klotzsch 1898 is accepted species by WCSP, Kew and found on the Pacific states of Mexico.

Previous Awards:

There is no AOS awards for this cross.

There are 6 AOS awards for Stanhopea saccata, starting from CBM in 1974. The latest award - clone 'Dude' received 85 pts AM/AOS in 2019.

There are 2 AOS award for Stanhopea intermedia - CBR/AOS in 1988 and HCC/AOS in 1994.


The candidate plant has 1 flower and 1 bud on one pendant inflorescences.

Flower Measurements:

NS H - 13.0 cm; NS V -11.5 cm;

Dorsal Sep. W - 3.7 cm; Dorsal Sep. L - 6.5 cm;

Petal W - 2.4 cm; Petals L - 6.0 cm;

Lat/Sepal W - 4.1 cm; Lat/Sepal L - 6.5 cm;

Lip/Pouch W - 3.5 cm; Lip/Pouch L - 5.4 cm.

Judges' Comments

Al Messina (Accredited Judge, Northeast Judging Center)

One flower and one bud on one pendant inflorescence; potential on subsequent bloom if floriferousness and form improve (parents produce about 3-5 flowers per inflorescence); plant appears to have bloomed previously; be sure to groom prior to exhibition. No award on this bloom.

Trevor Yee (Accredited Judge, Australian Orchid Consul, Australia)

On the AOC awards listing, I can only count 14 awards - of which 8 are quality, and the other 6 are cultural.

Typically putting up 1 flower for quality would not even be entertained - but I guess if your aim is to be more educational on aspects of Stanhopea judging, then I guess it will serve its purpose.

I could not even find a section on judging this genera in our Judging Guidelines handbook - probably due to the rarity of being presented for judging. Even then, usually large specimens are reviewed, and probably done as a special on-site judging by a convened panel.

Cheers Trevor

Mary Cash (Student Judge, Alamo Judging Center)

Appears to be a young plant. Flower is of medium size compared to both its parents. Shows well. Wish the plant had more open flowers. In hopes with maturity the number of flowers will increase allowing the plant to become more showy. The different angles of the flower parts are well proportioned and allows this one flower to show at its best.

Alejandro Capriles (Accredited Judge, Società Felsinea di Orchidofilia, Bologna, Italy, retired AOS Judge)

One flower and one bud on one stem. Stanhopea saccata can have one or two flowers per stem, while the S. intermedia can bear up to three flowers, sometimes four per stem. I’ve always preferred not judge a Stanhopea with only one flower even if another bud is present, but we all know how difficult it is to present these flowers for judging because of their short life-span. However, one of the main points of virtual judging is to be able to choose the optimal flowering time to present the plants at their best. I feel the grower could have waited a few more days to have the second flower open and present the plant in a more favorable light. Shape and color are what I would have expected from the cross, although the dimensions seem to be greater than either parent. Nevertheless, the sepals and particularly the petals could have been better presented - the petals of S. saccata can stand out remarkably flat for a Stanhopea. I would think the same trait could be reasonable expected from this cross. It is however a very elegant flower and I would like to see it again, preferably with at least two open flowers. I would not judge it at this time.

Stefano Bioni (Associate Judge, Società Felsinea di Orchidofilia, Bologna, Italy)

One flower and one bud, flower slightly larger than the average of the two parents, good symmetry, more intense color than the average of the parents, dorsal sepal and lip are the strengths but the petals and sepals could be more flattened. I would screen it on this inflorescence.

Inge Poot (Emeritus Judge, Toronto Judging Center)

Here are my comments:

Both parents have 2 to 3 flowers per inflorescence, but intermedia often has more flowers. The picture shows a plant that tends to abort the second flower, but in this flowering is just a little late in opening it. Hybrid vigor seems to be absent.

It has inherited the nice shape of a good saccata with the sepals not flipped back and also being wide.

The size is large compared to the parents.

Intermedia's biggest asset is an exceptionally shiny texture of the lip. This hybrid did not seem to have inherited it.

I would most likely not award it. Need to see it to be sure.

Cheers, Inge

Daniella Jason (Associate Judge, Pacific Northwest Judging Center)

After reviewing the parents of the hybrid and the hybrid itself, my thoughts are as follows. First off, the color is pleasing but not overly spectacular, I personally really like the combination of the yellowish hue from intermedia with the spotting from saccata. Overall, I think it is an improvement from intermedia but not necessarily an improvement in color for saccata. The petals also are pleasing, mostly straight with very little recurving which is ideal. The sepal edges are somewhat rolled but not overly so, again an improvement from intermedia but not so much saccata. The symmetry of the lateral sepals is nice and the dorsal sepal is centered nicely and straight. The lip is a nice blend of both parents, it has a slightly smaller bulb at the hypochile attributed to saccata and both parents have the larger bucket opening. It seems slightly underflowered given what both of the parents can do and while this flower is slightly larger than the parents, it is not significantly larger. Overall I think it is a very nice hybrid and the flower is pleasing, the color and shape are a nice improvement but this plant may just be a little young. Personally, I would not nominate it for an award outright and would ask that it be brought back for judging when there are more flowers or inflorescences.

I hope this helps and that the discussions are good.



Deb Boersma (Student Judge, Great Lakes Judging Center)

I find this candidate to be quite a challenge to judge as I have never judged a Stanhopea flower and the Handbook does not have judging criteria for this genus. Looking at the parent and their awards, it appears that the saccata parent was used because it has a relatively flat flower and the intermedia can be quite floriferous with one cultivar having 7 flowers on one inflorescence.

Our candidate appears to have good saturated color and nice light spotting and is larger in natural spread than the parents. The form is not as flat as the saccata parent but much improved when compared to the intermedia. It only has one flower and I would expect more with the intermedia in the background.

I would not nominate this for a quality award, perhaps a few more flowers would elevate it to an awardable status

Mary Jo Gilsdorf (Accredited Judge, Mid-Atlantic Judging Center)

When an unregistered Stanhopea cross was posted for this month's exercise, I thought to myself - He sure picked a Challenge Plant! And for several reasons. Stanhopea have short lived flowers and because of that they are rarely seen at judging. And because the flowers change in form and color fairly quickly throughout the day, you want to present them at a stage that is "just so." But the flowers can change in form and color within a matter of hours. And the flower is unusual in its shape and can present challenges in making judging assessments because of this or an unfamiliarity with the Genus.

As judges, we are called to give every plant whether we are familiar with it or not, a fair and reasoned assessment. How to do that when you are unfamiliar? With a Genus like Stanhopea, using the "General Scale" is appropriate and requires the judge to analyze the flower and assess attributes as against Judging standards such as:

Form in terms of overall presentation, balance, whether the flower is straight on its axis, fullness/fenestration, whether the segments are consistent with each other - relatively the same size and configuration, whether the segments are full and in proportion with one another;

Color: in terms of clarity and crispness, saturation, pleasing patterns or markings, whether markings are consistently displayed; if more than one color on the flower, is the color harmonious (which can be matching or contrasting color);

And the other traits such as overall size, arrangement, presentation on the inflorescence, floriferousness.

Then, you take these elements and dig deeper and research as best you can - it takes some work but even with an unfamiliarity of the genus or the hybrid, a reasoned result can be accomplished.

I find it helpful to do a bit of background research in such a case. Rudolf Jenny wrote "The Stanhopea Book" in 2010 which provides great background references on the species involved (and some primary hybrids) but if faced with such a plant at judging, internet access can also provide some basic information for guidance along with the award records.

According to Jenny, saccata is a multi-floral inflorescence and tends to be fairly stable in size and coloration generally ranging between 2-4 flowers. The coloration tends to be pale yellow with central orange suffusion basally at the juncture of the lip segments and the tepals with orange stipling on the proximal parts of the petals and on the lip. The Award records on saccata are consistent with the Jenny information though the NS size tends to be larger than reported. But there could be a good reason for this. Looking at all of the Award photos, all of the flowers award were in the beginning stages of opening - before the petals reflux back behind the sepals which is part of the natural and expected progression of the opening of the flower. As a Judge though, I would not insist on the flat display of the petals because that is related to the stage of the flower opening. But the record seems to reflect a possible bias to newly opened flowers because this presentation has a full, flat stance which is favored by the judging standards.

The species intermedia, also tends to be multi-floral (2-5 flowers between 7-9 cm NS), pale yellow, also with deep orange suffusion basally at juncture of the lip segments to tepals without any spotting on the tepals but some stipling on the hypochil portion of the lip and as reported by Jenny between 7-9 cm NS. There are only 2 awards to Stanhopea intermedia, an HCC and CBR, both of which had 7 flowers on 1 inflorescence and ranging in the 10-11 cm NS size. Both awarded flowers are pale yellow with no or slight visible spotting. The CBR, 'Juquilla Mixes' shows the typical recurve of a fully opened flower but the other clone, 'Diana Rose' is more open and less advanced in its petal position, again potentially signaling a bias towards newly opened flowers for purposes of a flower award in this genus. (If I had more time, I'd explore that potential bias further - a very quick visual review of the record seems to bear this trend out to some extent though there are awards to flowers that are fully opened.) Certainly, a newly opened flowers has a form more closely aligned to traditional judging standards but when understanding the trait of the genus and stages of the flower opening progression, I do not find this, a necessary criterion to an award quality flower.

As the candidate is a primary hybrid, it can also be helpful in judging something less known to see what other primary hybrids have been made with each species and what the results were. The only awarded primary hybrid using saccata is a cross with Stanhopea wardii: Stanhopea Memoria Pedro Glucksmann 'Joe's Pride' AM 82, CCM 84 with 6 flowers, 13 buds on 5 inflorescences. While the description of this award is a bit confusing as to the flower count per inflorescence, the photos show multiple flowers (at least 4-5) on the open inflorescences and the flower photo shows a newly opening, flat flower. Stanhopea intermedia has not been widely used in breeding and none of its hybrids have been awarded.

Looking at the candidate at hand, we are lucky to have a series of pictures showing the progression of the opening of the flower. The moment when the petals would have been fully flat was not captured but enough can be observed to see that the petals are a bit narrow and crenulated with a pleasing yellow coloration and orange stippling over the proximal half. The sepals look fairly consistent with one another in form and size and in the gophering of the anterior edge. When Stanhopea flowers age, the flower edges tend to curl and wave more. The sepals are slightly more saturated in the same pale yellow coloration. The central magenta mask and burnt orange overlay at the proximal point of the lip are very dramatic and pleasing in coloration - and more pronounced that in either of the parents. Overall, I find the flower pleasing in its presentation and by the statistics presented, of large size. However, on this inflorescence, there are only two flowers - and one is still at the bud stage. As can be seen in the photos, other inflorescences have held several more flowers.

Overall, on this particular inflorescence, I would not nominate it for a flower quality award due to the low flower count (considering both parents are multi-floral and not bi-flowered species) and due to some of the potential form issues - which if the plant was seen in person, may or may not be an issue. Also, there appears to be a color shift as the flower ages - so depending upon when the flower was exhibited, the color maybe optimal (more saturated before losing substance). With more flowers open (or opening) on a single inflorescence though, I think there is potential to get it into a flower quality range if the plant was seen in person. If it had a species that was known to throw only 2 flowers at a time, I would reconsider my position but that is not the case here.

Deb Bodei (Associate Judge, Northeast Judging Center)

Stanhopea (saccata x intermedia)

First, it is a joy to see this plant. There are not many hybrids for this genus and any successful cross is a great opportunity. Even with only one flower, this blooming must be impressive in person. The bud in and of itself is beautiful and resembles a ballet slipper en pointe to me.

I find the overall form and color of this cross very pleasing and the size good. The flower itself is balanced, has very nicely held wide sepals with the petals held back behind the other segments, not uncommon for the genus. The species saccata brought color and slight spotting and also the deeper mahogany color to the lip hypochile which is very attractive, while intermedia looks to have brought the architectural shape of the mesochile and epichile in a synchronized twist which I find very attractive. The substance appears to be heavy with a shiny texture that gives the lower portion of the lip the appearance of carved porcelain with a high shine.

I would have to nominate this plant for a JC because there was only one flower and consistency couldn't therefore be determined. I sincerely hope to see this plant back again on the judging table with more blooms open at the same time so it could be considered for a flower award next time. I do see improvement over the parents in this cross.

Thank you,


Exhibitor - Kristen Mason, OH (Accredited Judge, Cincinnati Judging Center)

Grower's Advice

This is the first time I have bloomed this plant.

I bought it a year ago from little frog farms. It had 3 blooms when I bought it. They were smaller but I didn't measure them. I give it good light and water well once or twice a week. Top dress with a small amount of rabbit droppings and crushed egg shells.

I would like to share my judging comments as well:

I like the depth of color, the refinement of the spotting on the petals, the richness of the markings in the lip (although there is a chance this indicates a different parentage). Excellent overall size and increased width in the dorsal petal, lip and sepals. I like the overall shape and presentation of the petals although would like to see them slightly flatter along the outer lower margin. Slight reflexing on dorsal sepal. Reflexing and rolling on the sepals is suboptimal. Under flowered. I would pass on this flowering.