5th Conference 2020

Proceedings WOSA 5 Conference 2020

 Following are summaries of the talks - as the full length papers are now completed after the conference they will be added with a link below each abstract.


Damian Lourens (Speaker), Andrew Hankey (Speaker), Marinus Kort (Vice Chairman & Audiovisual), Gavin McDonald (Speaker), Jimmy Pauck (Speaker), Dr Peter Ashton (Speaker)

Karsten Wodrich (President & Speaker), Prof Craig Peter (Speaker), Hendrelien Peters (Speaker), Hildegard Crous (Speaker), Prof Steve Johnson (Speaker)



  1. Opening address
  2. The 'HDC Capers' of the Cape Deciduous Orchids
  3. The epiphytic orchids from around the source of the Zambezi River
  4. Preliminary hybridising results within the genus Eulophia
  5. Newly discovered pollination systems in South African Orchids
  6. A win for the Albertina Sisulu Orchids
  7. Mycorrhiza in the genus Mystacidium
  8. Rhipidoglossum (Diaphananthe) millarii project
  9. Orchids along the KZN highway verges
  10. The genus Polystachya and its hybridising potential
  11. Field trips


1. Opening address

 Jimmy Pauck & Karsten Wodrich

Jimmy Pauck opened the Conference with a warm welcome to all delegates and speakers and handed over to Karsten Wodrich for the opening address:

I think it is fair to say that 2019 has been a difficult year – not only did we have upheavals from an economic point of view but in June last year we also lost the founder, stalwart and key executive member of Wild Orchid Southern Africa Bill Mincher. In 2014 Bill brought to life what we can now consider a world class conservation organisation Wild Orchids Southern Africa and he was the driving force behind the organisation right to the end. It has been a difficult seven months since then as the new executive and non-executive committee had to take over the task of organising this conference and coming to grips with the many aspects of what Bill did for WOSA.

Download the pdf Opening-Address-K_Wodrich-WOSA5-2020.pdf


2. The 'HDC Capers' of the Cape Deciduous Orchids 

Hildegard Crous

Hildegard Crous won the Kirstenbosch Scholarship in 1990 and this started her long association with South African flora including Disas which she maintained at Kirstenbosch for 10 years before leaving to start her own Disa collection and private laboratory at her home in Barrydale in the Western Cape. She has pioneered new methods for growing Disas, as well as breeding new hybrids, co-authored the book Grow Disas, and is actively involved in the Disa barbata conservation project. Married to Jean Crous, their country lifestyle enables them to enjoy hobbies such as riding, beekeeping, hiking and flying



Little is known about the lifestyle of Cape Deciduous Orchids. The "questionable activities" of these orchids necessitate a different approach for successful cultivation. HDC - Horticulturally Defined Categories - is a "new" classification description assisting in the cultivation of the Cape Deciduous Orchids.







3. Epiphytic Orchids from around the source of the Zambezi River

Dr. Peter Ashton

Dr Peter Ashton retired from the CSIR after over 36 years working as an Aquatic Ecologist. During this time his career has enabled him to visit 42 of the 48 mainland African countries. His special interest are the epiphytic orchids of Africa. 



The area around the source of the Zambezi River in north-western Zambia has a rich diversity of epiphytic orchids, with 69 species recorded to date, six of which are endemic to this area of Zambia. Two additional species, representing new records for the Flora Zambesiaca area, were discovered during personal surveys of the dense Miombo woodland of this portion of the country. Further detailed orchid surveys are needed across this remote area and these will likely reveal new and exciting finds!






4. Preliminary hybridising results within the genus Eulophia

Karsten Wodrich

Karsten has been growing orchids since he was 14 when he first found a colony of Eulophia ovalis ssp. bainesii in Robindale, Randburg. Whilst studying to become a Mechanical Engineer at the University of Stellenbosch he published a book entitled Growing South African Indigenous Orchids in 1996. After leaving university Karsten started both a family and a business, and orchids had to take a back seat. Now that both those undertakings have become firmly established he has returned to his love of orchids and is concentrating on propagating species and hybrids from seed. He is currently President of WOSA.



A few hybrids within the genus Eulophia have been registered since 1992 with many more expected to be registered in the not too distant future. Indications are that most of species within the genus Eulophia can be readily crossed. Limited success has been achieved with hybrids between Eulophia and Orthochilus.  There are now clear indications of how certain traits are inherited and which parents are preferred in a hybridising programme to improve plant vigour and make them less difficult to grow. Ultimately Eulophia hybrid availability should reduce pressure on natural populations.




5. Newly discovered pollination systems in South African Orchids

Prof Steve Johnson

Professor Steve Johnson’s research focuses on pollination biology, evolution, plant speciation, insect-plant relationships, and floral deception and mimicry.
He obtained a B.Sc. (Hons.) and Ph.D. in Botany from the University of Cape Town in 1994. He then worked as a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Haifa in Israel and at Uppsala University in Sweden before moving to UCT where he was a Smuts Post-doctoral Fellow. He is currently a full Professor at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, and holds the DST/NRF South African Research Chair in Evolutionary Biology. During the course of his career he has published or co-published more than 270 peer-reviewed scientific papers and book chapters, as well as four books: Table Mountain: a Natural History (1999), Cape Orchids (2012), Orchids of South Africa (2015) and Floral Mimicry (2017). He has served on the editorial boards of Oecologia, Arthropod-Plant Interactions, and Proceedings of the Royal Society: Biological Sciences and has acted as a reviewer for numerous other journals. He started working at Verloren Vallei in the mid 1990s. 



Steve explored the question of why pollination research was vital to understanding evolution, the ecology and the process of natural hybridisation of orchids with specific examples how how precise and complex some of these pollinating mechanism of our indigenous orchids are.

He then proceeded to present his latest, cutting edge and ground breaking research on the pollination of the rare Disa forficaria which was recently rediscovered in the Overberg area in the Western Cape. Work was done on a single flowering plant that flowered only for two seasons. Delegates were blown away by the spectacular photography, the research methodology and the results and we eagerly await the publication of this research.




6. A win for the Albertina Sisulu Orchid

Andrew Hankey & Belinda Cooper

Andrew is a Botanical Horticulturist and works for the South African National Biodiversity Institute at the Walter Sisulu National Botanical Garden where he is the Assistant Curator / Specialist Horticulturist. His principal duty is the overall co-ordination of entire Botanical Garden Operations and all that this entails.

Andrew and the Proteadal Conservation Association team including chairperson Belinda Cooper and Tony de Castro have been instrumental in pushing the conservation of the Albertina Sisulu Orchid into the public space.




In 2015 Belinda completed her Masters in Environmental Management.Her thesis focused on environmental threats and conservation opportunities in the Magaliesberg Biosphere.
She joined the Magaliesberg Biosphere initiative group in 2012, where she assisted in defining the Biosphere boundaries for UNESCO approval. Once the biosphere was designated in 2015, she helped to negotiate and organise the election of the biosphere management board. During this time she also represented MBIG on the National Man and Biosphere committee.
She feels this exposure has provided her with skills to support effective community based environmental action, which is her current interest and focus as chairperson of the Proteadal Conservation Association. The PCA was formed in response to ever encroaching unsustainable urban development on the West Rand Ridges of Johannesburg.
In her other life, Belinda runs her own business, procuring, designing and selling contemporary ethnic jewellery in the tourist retail sector.

Belinda Cooper is currently the chairperson of the Proteadal Conservation Association.



The conservation of the unprotected and largely unfenced areas where the Albertina Sisulu Orchid occurs would quickly become degraded due to increased pressure from the rapidly urbanisaton.  The Proteadal Conservation Association (PCA) was formed in 2012 for the purposes of protecting the remaining ridge habitats in which the orchid is found from being lost to urbanisation. Consequently on the ground, activities have largely fallen on the shoulders of volunteer members of the PCA. One of these major undertakings was the court case against the Record of Decision by the MEC. The decision to grant authorisation for the development of almost 3000 high density residential units on a portion of Mogale City property known as Proteadal, was set aside and made an order of the South Gauteng High Court on 31st July 2019. Andrew will give us a detail account of the monumental task of taking the MEC to court and give insight into how this battle was fought.



7. Mycorrhiza in the genus Mystacidium

Damian Lourens

Damian is a final year MSc Biological Sciences student at Rhodes University under guidance of Prof Joanna Dames and Prof Craig Peter. His master dissertation focuses on the variety of mycorrhizal fungi found in various life stages of the epiphytic orchid genus Mystacidium and analyses the potential role these fungi might play.



Because epiphytic orchids often face extreme conditions in tree canopies it is believed they have a strong dependence on mycorrhizal fungi throughout their life cycle, especially throughout the protocorm stage. This presentation analyses the various life stages of an epiphytic orchid, including protocorm, juvenile and adult stage, for mycorrhizal fungi and other potential mycobionts, and assess the diversity found in each stage of various species in the epiphytic orchid genus Mystacidium.






8. Rhipidoglossum (Diaphanthe) millarii project

Jimmy Pauck & Craig Peter

Jimmy is President of the Highway Orchid Society (formerly known as the Queensburgh Orchid Club), and has been growing orchids for over 30 years.  He is senior lecturer at the Durban University of Technology in the Chemical Engineering Department, and specialises in pulp and paper technology. Jimmy has a broad range of interests in the natural world, but has a particular passion for conserving orchids.





Prof Craig Peter is Associate Professor at the Department of Botany at Rhodes University. He is interested in a broad range of ecological and evolutionary questions associated with plant pollination biology. Craig is currently undertaking the pollination biology studies on the critically endangered orchid Brachycorythis conica subsp. transvaalensis and has proposed a seed propagation project for Rhipidoglossum millarii.



Prof Craig Peter has secured limited funding for the propagation of Rhipidoglossum millarii from the World Orchid Conference 23 team as part of their orchid conservation programme. This project now needs to be implemented but that is not a simple as it seems. Together with the KZN WOSA team led by Jimmy Pauck the project is just getting off the ground and both Jimmy and Craig expanded on the project in their presentation.





9. Orchids of the Greater Durban Highway Area

Hendrelien Peters

Hendrelien Peters originally qualified as a History, Geography and Physical Education teacher and has been growing orchids since 1982. She is a qualified South African Orchid Council judge. Hendrelien currently curates the orchid collection at the Durban Botanical Gardens and is the editor of Orchids South Africa. Her hobbies include photography and art.



Hendrelien took delegates through the unique habitat and show the orchids that are found around the  KZN's highways. Many orchids can be found around the KZN highways and the species found in these areas are linked to the elevation as temperatures tend to decrease at night the higher the altitude. 





10. The genus Polystachya and its hybridising potential

Gavin McDonald

Gavin McDonald has been growing orchids for over 30 years and maintains a mixed collection of species and hybrids from a wide range of genera. He is an accredited South African Orchid Council judge and an official Botanist to the South African Orchid Council. Gavin is Assistant Professor and Acting Head of the Department of Nature Conservation at the Mangosuthu University of Technology and has studied indigenous orchids as part of his research interest. This has led to the authoring and co-authoring of a number of new species within the Orchid family.



Gavin will take a look at the variable epiphytic genus Polystachya, represented by 11 species in South Africa. From a hybridising point of view results have been less spectacular than expected but continued perseverance with hybridising - in particuar by the Duckitts in Darling has now started to bear fruit. Once again by making hybrids available to the public - collecting pressure on species in the wild has been reduced.







11. Field trips

The field trips were scheduled for Friday afternoon 24 January 13:30-17:00 and Saturday morning 25 January 9:00-12:00 in order to ensure that at least the outing on Saturday was not potentially rained out by the typical afternoon thunderstorms that are encountered in the Berg.

The first outing resulted in 16 species being found in close vicinity the parking area. After a short rain storm the outings resumed in two groups. Amongst these were species such as Disa oreophylla ssp. oreophylla growing along the steep banks next to the river. Most of the species observed were close to the car parking area which literally allows one to step out of the car right into the orchids. For the more adventurous there are slightly longer (but still easy) walks as well as a few more strenuous ones were available.

Disa oreophylla Outing Friday 3 Outing Friday 2  Outing Friday

Species seen on the outings were amongst others:

Corycium dracomontanum
Corycium nigresens
Disa oreophylla ssp. oreophylla
Disa versicolor
Disa stachyoides
Eulophia ovalis ssp. bainesii
Eulophia zeheriana
Habenaria dives
Habenaria laevigata
Neobolusia tysonnii
Pterygodium magnum
Satyrium cristatum var. cristatum
Satyrium longicauda
Satyrium microrrhynchum
Satyrium parviflorum
Schizochilus flexuous



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