Art by Alexander Vasiljev, Copyright © 2015

Monday, October 12, 2015


This orchid was first scientifically described as Orchis falcata by the Swedish botanist Carl Peter Thunberg, who was the first European to study flora of Japan in 1775. Since than the species undergone many name changes. Below is a full chronological list of its botanical names:

Orchis falcata Thunb. in J.A.Murray, Syst. Veg. ed. 14: 811 (1784).
Limodorum falcatum (Thunb.) Thunb., Trans. Linn. Soc. London 2: 326 (1794)
Angraecum falcatum (Thunb.) Lindl., Coll. Bot.: t. 15 (1821)
Oeceoclades falcata (Thunb.) Lindl., Gen. Sp. Orchid. Pl.: 237 (1833)
Vanda falcata (Thunb.) Beer, Prakt. Stud. Orchid.: 317 (1854)
Aerides thunbergii Miq., Ann. Mus. Bot. Lugduno-Batavi 2: 205 (1866)
Oeceoclades lindleyi Regel, Gartenflora 15: 70 (1866)
Vanda pygmaea H.Laurentius, Nursery Cat. (H.Laurentius) 40: 20 (1868), nom. superfl
Angorchis falcata (Thunb.) Kuntze, Revis. Gen. Pl. 2: 651 (1891)
Angraecopsis falcata (Thunb.) Schltr., Orchideen Beschreib. Kult. Zücht.: 601 (1914)
Finetia falcata (Thunb.) Schltr., Beih. Bot. Centralbl. 36(2): 140 (1918).
Neofinetia falcata (Thunb.) Hu, Rhodora 27: 107 (1925).
Nipponorchis falcata (Thunb.) Masam., Mem. Fac. Sci. Taihoku Imp. Univ. 11(4): 592 (1934).
Holcoglossum falcatum (Thunb.) Garay & H.R.Sweet, Bot. Mus. Leafl. 23: 182 (1972).

Important to note here, that in 1925 the orchid was classified as Neofinettia falcata by the Chinese botanist Hu Xiansu, with the name that became widely used and still is. In addition to Neofinetia falcata there were two more species included to form a small genus - Neof. richardsiana and Neof. xichangensis.

In 2012, after published in Phytotaxa new combinations for the genus Vanda by the British botanist L.M. Gardiner, this species officially became Vanda falcata, as it was proposed by the Austrian botanist J.G.Beer in 1854.

Despite the reasoning, non-botanists and non-taxonomists alike are reluctant to keep up with such often changing nomenclature. Thus Vanda falcata will still be more often than not called Neofinetia falcata among hobbyists and growers.

In my opinion, there is no right or wrong to call it either way considering that "nothing is written in stone" in taxonomy and nomenclature of orchids. For those of us botanically savvy Vanda will be the choice. For those of us more possessive of a good old name, Neofinetia will remain. And better yet, for those of us appreciators of this charming orchid, it will always be called FUURAN and FUUKIRAN, in respect to Japanese aficionados, who elevated this orchid to the state of art.

I will be using Japanese names - FUURAN, the name for the species and FUUKIRAN, the name for its selected cultivars. Also, despite being a botanist, I will keep using the name Neofinetia falcata for the time being.

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