Amoana kienastii


Dimensions 38 × 58 cm
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This orchid was previously known as Encyclia kienastii 

First Edition 50

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 height  58 cm  x  width 38 cm

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Stock Reference: V04
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                                                                                                                                                                                                  I was shown these specimens growing in the orchid collection of the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew and of course immediately fell in love. I painted them sitting at my scruffy, overloaded formica table wedged    into a corner of the gardener’s mess room at the Lower Nursery.
   Periods of intense quiet regularly erupted into life as hungry gardeners – who had been sweating over and expertly caring for their fragile and often endangered charges in steamy greenhouses – swung in, grabbing mugs of tea, exchanged fascinating though often incomprehensible pieces of horticultural lore, conveyed hot travel tips for the next lucky person’s field trip and joked about lovers and other important issues of the day. Someone always had an encouraging or appreciative word for me, no matter how unfinished the painting was.  
 Just as suddenly, everyone flooded back out to work, peace returned and I was able to continue my silent communion with this charming plant, marvelling at how the delicate lilac flowers age into a range of pink and coral hues. The species seems to me to have a wayward, dancing quality so I composed the painting to try to convey that.

As the previously named E. kienastii differs so much from the other Encyclias with which it had been grouped, it was moved into the new genus, Amoana Encyclia kienastii had been first described by Reichenbach in the Gardener’s Chronicle. Hooker had placed it as an Encyclia in 1878. During the 1890s, a Swiss Consul named Kienast-Zolly lived in Orizaba where he was known for his love of orchids. It was named for him and is locally called Orchidea de Kienast. The need for a move into the new genus Amoana, was identified by Leopardi and Carnevali and named by them in appreciation of the herbarium work done at the Associacion Mexicana de Orquideologia {AMO }, the pre-eminent global location for the study of Mexican orchids. The new name was accepted at the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew in 2012.

This orchid, as with so many other life forms, is competing unsuccessfully with human activities. In this case, mainly with the growing of a range of foods collectively known as milpa in “cleared” forests. Its natural range used to be partly in Mexico. Unfortunately for hope of avoiding future extinction, this orchid needs high altitude oak and pine cloud forest in a narrow band of between 1500-1900 metres. It enjoyed growing at elevations above 1800 metres in areas such as Oaxaca, where it is endemic and where it is only known to grow in very small clusters in four locations on the Pacific slopes of the Sierra Madre del Sur – none of which are so far ?  in protected areas. It is believed to already be almost extinct in the wild. If this huge loss is allowed to occur, pollinators may never be known. At the moment, bees have been proposed or else that this species is cleistoglamous [ self-pollinating in an unopened flower ]. My own guess is that hummingbirds may be involved.

Mexico has been recently ranked as second only to Ecuador for having the highest number of endangered species globally, of which this Encyclia is one of over two thousand six hundred species of Mexican flora and fauna that may soon disappear for ever.

© Frances Livingstone 2018

error: © Frances Livingstone 2018