by Gwyn Headley
90% of our Support Team’s time is spent sending emails which say “make absolutely certain your resolution is set to 300 ppi and THEN you will be able to upload.”
So they were very pleased to get involved in a discussion about the naming of orchids. Something different for a change. They copied me in on the discussion, and to show how much care our members and we take over our photographs, I’m reproducing it here.
Firstly, you will recall that anyone looking at fotoLibra can comment or complain about any of the images on the site. The comments all go to Support, who distribute them as necessary.
So when this arrived, referring to a picture of an orchid:
It is a Cymbidium orchid, not a Lycaste!
our Support guy replied to the complainant:
Thank you very much for pointing this out. We’ve passed the information on to the photographer and asked him to correct his keywording.
and emailed the photographer:
We received the following comment about your image FOT361437:
It is a Cymbidium orchid, not a Lycaste!
If you agree, are you happy for us to change your keywords?
The member was understandably slightly concerned (as I would be) and replied as follows:
I was a bit surprised to receive your comment regarding my orchid name.
This plant was bought a few years ago from a very well established and reputable orchid nursery – it was named as a Lycaste. I am not an expert on orchid nomenclature but I had no reason to disbelieve the name given to the plant. It is always possible of course that there was a mistake (anything is possible!) but I would not be happy changing the name unless your contributor has a very good reason for thinking it to be a cymbidium. Perhaps you would ask him (or her) to give reasons for their comment?
so we asked the complainant to account for himself, and he answered:
I have been growing Lycastes for 50 years, hold the National Collection of them in the UK, was Chairman of the RHS Orchid Committee for 10 years, am President of the Orchid Society of Great Britain, have lectured on Cymbidiums to the Cymbidium Society of America, have written hundreds of articles on Lycastes, judged Cymbidiums at international orchid shows, from Europe to Japan, USA, Australia, Taiwan to South Africa, for 20 years; been chairman of the Advisory Panel for Orchid Nomenclature, advised on the International Code of Nomenclature for cultivated plants in respect of orchids; am Research Associate in Orchid Science at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew; Research Associate to the Singapore Botanic Gardens (re orchids) and I am the appointed botanical/taxonomic advisor on Lycastes to the American Orchid Society and am just publishing the definitive monograph on Lycaste, Ida and Anguloa – 450 pages, 1,400 photos, 200,000 words (I published a smaller one on Lycaste alone in 1993).
That should do it!
and the member graciously replied:
I don’t think I can argue against that! I can only apologise for misleading you, and any other people who may have seen it on the fotoLibra site.
The only explanation I can think of is that the plant had been inadvertently mislabelled before being sent out to me. I’m sure the nursery in question would not knowingly mislabel a plant, and I’m sure they would agree with what your correspondent says. They have been in the business for countless years, exhibited many times as Chelsea and won many prizes – as well as producing numerous reference books on the subject.
In the circumstances I would obviously be quite happy for you to change the appropriate key words on my image.
To which the expert responded:
Thanks – I have known the owner of those Nurseries for abut 40 years and I agree with your member, he would not have mislabelled it deliberately. I am still puzzled by this – Lycaste have huge wide leaves and Cymbidium have long narrow leaves and he would not have mistaken one for the other even if it was out of flower. Come back to me if any queries arise. Otherwise, just ‘thank you’ for looking after my query so kindly.
I always liked orchids myself, and now I know I like the people who work with them.
How civilised an exchange!
What pleasant people we work with!