Cattleya Bethune

Week 89: December 4, 2022

Cattleya Bethune

(Cattleya Mattie Shave


Cattleya Elizabeth Off)

New candidate for this month is a Cattleya Bethune 'Mendenhall' (Cattleya Mattie Shave x Cattleya Elizabeth Off).

Cattleya Bethune was originated and registered by Carter and Holmes in 1979. Cattleya Mattie Shave is the cross between Cattleya Zada Fields and Cattleya Dark Emperor. Second parent, Cattleya Elizabeth Off is the cross between Cattleya Dinard and Cattleya Fred Sander. This cross has many Cattleya species in the background - C. dowiana, C. labiata, C. trianae, C. warscewiczii and many other.

Previous Awards:

There are 2 AOS awards for this cross: first is for Laeliocattleya Bethune 'Mendenhall' AM/AOS 85 pts, received by Barney and Aileen Garrison in 2000 and second is for Sophrocattleya Bethune 'Indigo' AM/AOS 86 pts, received by Barney and Aileen Garrison again in 2006.

Exhibitor noted that our candidate is a division of Cattleya Bethune 'Mendenhall' from Carter and Holmes.


The candidate has 3 flowers on one 14 cm inflorescence (27 cm flowers included). Plant height is 30 cm and growing in 16 cm plastic pot.

Flower Measurements:

NS H - 14.5 cm; NS V - 15.0 cm;

Dorsal Sep. W - 3.5 cm; Dorsal Sep. L - 8.0 cm;

Petal W - 7.5 cm; Petals L - 8.0 cm;

Lat/Sepal W - 3.5 cm; Lat/Sepal L - 9.0 cm;

Lip/Pouch W - 6.0 cm; Lip/Pouch L - 8.0 cm.

Photos in natural light

Judges' Comments

Al Messina (Accredited Judge, Northeast Judging Center)

Three concolor, lovely royal purple flowers on one erect, crowded inflorescence; central flower is best but displays incurving/recurved petal margins, with suggestion of fenestration inferiorly, medially; lateral flowers deformed and vertically asymmetric, likely related to considerable crowding. Central flower might qualify for HCC, but since one judged an entire inflorescence, I must pass on this bloom.

The next bloom might result in success

Keith Davis (Keith Davis Orchids, NC)

It was exciting to see such a well grown plant in bloom as this Lc. (C.) Bethune ‘Mendenhall’. Kudos to the grower. The flowers are well displayed and is a true showstopper, even in the photos. I am sure that if there had not been a previous award with 4 blooms, this would deserve to receive an AM. However, the previous award with 4 blooms basically had all measurements larger than this flowering as well as one extra flower. So I would have to pass on giving it an up-grade but take plenty of time to admire such a treasure and its rarity.

I wanted to share a bit about this cross. It was registered in 1979 and created by Mr. Bill Carter. Bill loved to name many of his crosses for local areas of interest in South Carolina and special friends. Bethune is a small town in the county of Kershaw consisting of less than 500 folks. It sits at the crossroads of Hwy. US 1 and SC 341 and is the county seat. But to Bill, it was also the home town of his wonderful wife, Mary Ellen Carter. To me, as not only an orchid grower, but a collector, I love to discover the significance of an orchid’s name. Many of the grex or clone names do have a special meaning. I like to note this on my tag if I can find information on it. In my book, the hunt for such information is part of the joy and experience of orchid collecting.

The parents of Bethune are two oldies, but very good stud plants, rarely seen in collections any more. I have attached a photo of one clone of Mattie Shave that came out of the collection of Fennell’s Orchid Jungle down in Homestead, Fl. This clone was awarded an AM of 82 points in 1980.

The other parent of Bethune is Elizabeth Off ‘Sparkling Burgundy’ FCC/AOS. It received its FCC way back in 1964. This grex has to date 61 F1 generation offspring, the first in 1958 and two registered this year. That is a long time to still be producing quality offspring. This photo I show is the first time I have seen a photo that accurately represents the true color of this magnificent flower. Thanks to my friend, Kurtis Iwata, for sharing. Both photos are from original mother plants, not mericlones, thus the colors are what the judges saw when these were awarded. When you look at Bethune ‘Mendenhall’, one can certainly see both the parents’ influence. Sadly, it is not uncommon for many judges to have never seen the parents of the subject they are looking at. And many times, if there are photos, the photos do not do them justice.

Again, what a treasure this week’s subject is to have as our example to look at and study. Thanks to everyone involved.

Lc Mattie Shave 'Orchid Jungle' AM/AOS

Lc Elizabeth Off 'Sparkling Burgundy'

Here is this year’s blooming on one plant of Bethune ‘Indigo’. Just a single flower, but the color never disappoints. The large number of gloomy days over the last few months probably had something to do with the low flower count.

Seems to vary just a bit from year to year in color, but not much. Took about 25 shots with different exposures and backgrounds to nail the color exactly as it looks in the sun. It has such smooth texture that it indeed looks like a fine true velvet that glows. I put pollen from Bethune ‘Vinnie’ onto this, so we will see what comes from that.

An interesting thing that Gene Shared with me is that the small town of Bethune, SC, is the home town of Mary Ellen Carter.

Lc Bethune 'Indigo' AM/AOS

Pam Noll (Student Judge, Alamo Judging Center)

Three flowers on one inflorescence, subject flower in the center. Plant is said to be a division of the ‘Mendenhall’ clone. All three full flowers are an attractive purple color with deep gold stripes in the throat. The flowers are clustered somewhat closely together, possibly contributing to the other two flowers’ petals being more reflexed than the subject flower. The subject flower is well presented; the ruffled petals are evenly shaped and slightly reflexed. The lip is uniformly ruffled and held down, the side lobes curve around the column, and there are eye-catching gold markings in the throat. The NSH & NSV measurements of this flower are not quite as large as the AM/AOS awarded ‘Mendenhall’ clone, however, attributes of this particular flower are consistent with improvements over the original parents of this cross. I feel that it shows quality and is worthy of consideration.

Thanks for letting us see these beautiful flowers.

Pamela Noll

Deb Boersma (Student Judge, Great Lakes Judging Center)

This is a large, gorgeous flower that really has some stunning color with nice striations on the throat of the lip. The ‘Mendenhall’ cultivar has previously been awarded an AM of 85 points. When I compare the awarded cultivar with our candidate the one thing that does appear to be much better on our candidate in the flat dorsal sepal compared to the reflexed dorsal on the awarded plant. However our candidate is not as floriferous and it is a smaller flower and even though the dorsal shows better form, I would have a hard time pointing it higher than 85 points. Had there been no previous awards to ‘Mendenhall’ I would definitely have nominated it for a quality award.

Ken Jacobsen (Accredited Judge, Pacific Central Judging Center)

I looked at this, and I’m sure it’s a clone. I would say on this blooming it is worthy of an AM, but I can’t see any way this could be raised to an FCC. Both the flower count and size are less than the previous AM, and it would be hard to make up those lost points.

Deb Bodei (Associate Judge, Northeast Judging Center)

Cattleya Bethune (C. Mattie Shave x C. Elizabeth Off

What a Christmasy looking Cattleya, that is a joy to see!

The first thing I see when I look at the plant is the attractive uniform ruffling of the petals and lip of that center flower. The other two flowers have it as well, but a little less noticeable due to some twisting and crowding of the segments. If the flowers were spaced a bit more, the form on the other two may have improved the issues we see especially in the positioning of the petals. We have one flower with a nice stance in the center, but all the flowers lack that overall symmetry we look for in hybrids because of the lip drooping. The prior awarded of this cross and the parents all had pretty good overall form in comparison.

The color saturation looks good, but I am distracted by a spotted concentration of color centrally in the sepals and the lower portion of the lip. Otherwise, the lip on this cross has attractive markings as expected from the parentage that includes dowiana.

Overall flower size and segment size is good. Floriferousness is as expected and arrangement is very good with a strong, unstaked stem. The plant looks like it is grown well among many other cattleyas in the collection surrounding it, which is fantastic to see.

As pleasing as it is to see a lovely cattleya like this, I was not able to come up with enough points to nominate for an award on this flowering.

Thank you,


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

I really love the striking intense color of this exhibition shaped Cattleya. Despite being hybridised over 40 years ago, it can still hold itself well against the current crop of complex Cattleyas.

I'm looking for a good circular flower outline, petals that are relatively flat (best if they touch or even overlap slightly) and the whole flower having a slightly concave stance.

I rate the color highly. Unfortunatley the petals of the left and right flowers are crimped. This detracts from the overall presentation. On this basis, I can not recommend it for a higher award.

Sergey Skoropad (Associate Judge, Northeast Judging Center)

Cattleya Bethune 'Mendenhall'

Beautiful royal purple flowers nicely presented on one inflorescence!

This cross was created in 1979, but still looking good by the modern standards!

The biggest challenge is the original award, which was granted in 2000 and scored 85 pts!

If this is a division (or mericlone) of awarded plant we need to compare our candidate to awarded one and take modern standards into consideration as well!

Our candidate has 3 very fine flowers. For me, the best flower is the middle one, flowers on the left and right have some issues. Size of the flowers of our candidate is a little smaller in all segments compared to the awarded one. Also, awarded plant has 4 flowers on one inflorescence compared to the candidate which has a 3 flowers on one inflorescence.

Unfortunately, I can’t elevate previous award to the new level (when previous award was scored at 85 pts I expect to see a WOW factor in order to elevate to FCC (90 pts.). I would pass this time but I would like to ask exhibitor to grow this plant to the perfection and bring it in with the several inflorescences.

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

Cattleya Bethune ‘Mendenhall’ AM/AOS

A beautifully flowered specimen of this well-known, awarded clone. Gorgeous, deep magenta color with an exceptional shape for a hybrid of the 70s, but not award quality today since judging standards are now considerably higher.

Jurahame A. Leyva (Accredited Judge, Hawaii Judging Center)

Your candidate is quite interesting and I spent a solid 40 minutes doing research and considering the candidate.

Firstly- I love the clear, clean color and also the spacing (or presentation) of each flower on the inflorescence. Each flower has enough space to hold its own and I consider that important, especially for the larger standard-type Cattleyas.

The segments are full and ruffling (where present) is pleasing and adds to the charm of the flower. I do wish the lip was ~20% fuller, but this is only a couple points off in my opinion. Proportionality between the petals and lip are always desirable in Cattleyas and this one mostly has it. If the lip was as wide as the petals… That would be FCC territory for me!

The original award to ‘Mendenhall’ lists 4 flowers about 15% larger overall. That being said… While I like this flower and believe it is award quality, because it is previously awarded with more and larger flowers- I would not feel comfortable upgrading the existing 85 pt AM on this flowering.

It is interesting to note that this flower, compared with the original award photo, seems to have fuller, more rounded segments. Color is always hard to judge in a photograph- but this flower has tremendous color. I’d be very happy to have this in my greenhouse!

This plant may be a division -of a mericlone of the original plant- but I’m reluctant to say they are the exact same. There is definitely something different about this flower compared to the original!

Happy New Year,

Jurahame A. Leyva

The OrchidFix Nursery, Inc.

Bob Winkley (Accredited Judge, Northeast Judging Center)

Thank you for sending along this beautiful flower and lovely flowering. Since Cattleya Bethune 'Mendehall' already has an AM/AOS of 85 points we need to evaluate this flower in light of the previous award to the cultivar, regardless of the fact that the prior award was received by the Aileen and Barney Garrison and not Carter and Holmes.

The relatively easy comparisons are that the current candidate has three flowers on a single inflorescence whereas the same cultivar when it was awarded 22 years ago had 4 flowers on the inflorescence. Overall size of the candidate's flowers is about 15% smaller that was seen when the cultivar was awarded. Even with a smaller size, the candidate's flowers appear a little crowded; the award description indicates that the 4 flowers were 'evenly spaced'. Saturation of color is very good for the candidate which is in its favor.

What's interesting about the current flowering is that the conformation of the petals is very different. When it was awarded, the petals were relatively flat. On this flowering they appear to be a little floppy at the apices, but that does contribute to a slightly rounder flower. Since we are not given a sense of texture and substance for the candidate it's hard to know if the conformation if a function of substance or just a different expression due to cultural factors.

It's interesting to note that the original award was from September 2000. Do you know if the candidate is in bloom now or are these images from earlier last Fall?

All this being said, I don't see this flowering as an improvement over the award flowering and would not consider rescoring for a possible upgrade.

All the best -

Bob W.

Exhibitor - Bayard Saraduke, NJ

Grower's Advice

I grow my Cattleya Bethune with my other Cattleyas in a south facing attached greenhouse.

30-40% shade in Winter and 50-60% in Summer.

I use large Monterey Pine bark mixed with large perlite in plastic pots.

I water with Reverse Osmosis and fertilize with MSU for pure water at 50ppm.

I supplement with Nutricote 13-11-11 added to the top of the mix.

I use an evaporative cooler and misting fan to both cool and humidify. Minimum 70% humidity.

Lots of air movement with fans.