DO NOT MISS the 120 page book compiled by Michael Bishop:
The Orchids: An Illustrated Reference
Orchids in the Corpus
The complete listing from Michael Bishop
(but do not miss the illustrated book—click the link above!!)
(in chronological order of book publication)
"I set out to make Julie an album containing a picture of each of the orchids mentioned in the NW stories. Found out lots of interesting things, such as some possibly imaginary names, erratic spellings, and lots of other flora names.
"Anyway, one of the most challenging tasks in trying to complete the album was to find a complete list of the orchids mentioned in the Stout works. So, of course, that meant I had a challenge to do it up right.
"I am sure that some of the more enthusiastic Wolfeans will find it interesting. And of course, I would like to know if I missed any orchids or made any mistakes. Michael Bishop
[Novellas are bold/italics/indented; books (novels & novella collections) are bold/underscored.Books containg novella collections indicate the number of novellas included in the volume in parenthesis following the collection's book title.]
The League of Frightened Men
The Rubber Band
The Red Box
Too Many Cooks
Some Buried Caesar
Over My Dead Body
Where There's a Will
Black Orchids (2)
Not Quite Dead Enough (2)
The Silent Speaker
Too Many Women
And Be a Villain
Trouble in Triplicate (3)
Before I Die
Help Wanted, Male
Instead of Evidence
The Second Confession
Three Doors to Death (3)
In the Best Families
Curtains for Three (3)
Murder by the Book
Triple Jeopardy (3)
The Golden Spiders
Three Men Out (3)
The Black Mountain
Three Witnesses (3)
Might As Well Be Dead
Three for the Chair (3)
If Death Ever Slept
And Four to Go (4)
Champagne for One
Plot It Yourself
Three at Wolfe's Door (3)
Too Many Clients
The Final Deduction
Homocide Trinity (3)
The Mother Hunt
Trio for Blunt Instruments (3)
A Right to Die
The Doorbell Rang
Death of a Doxy
The Father Hunt
Death of a Dude
Please Pass the Guilt
A Family Affair
Death Times Three (3)
by Peter Darrell
|Cattleya tianae||Rubber Band||Ch10||"As I was going out I stopped where Theodore Horstmann was turning out some old Cattleyas trianae and growled at him: ‘You're going to get shot in the gizzard.' I swear to God he looked pale."|
|Laeliocattleya Lustre||Rubber Band||Ch11||"A couple of boards had been laid along the top of long low wooden box which was filled with osmundine, and on the boards had been placed 35 or 40 pots of Laeliocattleya Lustre."|
|Vanda petersoama||In the Best Families|
|Cymbiduim Doris||Blood Will Tell||Ch1||"He had put a spray of Cymbiduim Doris in the vase on his desk and got his personal seventh of a ton disposed in his oversized custom-made chair, and was scowling at the dust jacket of a book, one of the items that had been addressed to him, when the phone rang and I got it."|
|Cypripedum Lord Fisher||Murder by the Book|
|Dendrobium cybele||Murder by the Book||Ch7||"No Cypripedum Lord Fischer, no Dendrobium Cybele, no---."|
|Cattleya Dionysius||Murder by the Book||
|Cattleya Katadin||Murder by the Book|
|Cattleya peetersi||Murder by the Book|
|Brassocattleya Calypso||Murder by the Book|
|Brassocattleya fourniearae||Murder by the Book|
|Laeliocattleya barbarossa||Murder by the Book|
|Laeliocattleya Carmencita||Murder by the Book|
|Laeliocattleya St. Gothard||Murder by the Book|
|Oncidium forbesi||Murder by the Book||Ch7||"I needed forty-eight, three apiece, but took a few extra because some were not perfect, mostly Cattleyas Dionysius, Katadin and peetersi, Brassocattleyas Calypso, fournierae and Nestor, and Laeliocattleyas barbarossa, Carmencita and St. Gothard."|
|Oncidium varicossum||Murder by the Book||Ch7||"Look at this Oncidium varicosum," he grumbled. "Dry rot in April. It has never happened before and there is no explanation."|
|Paphiopedilum lawrenceanmu hyeanum||Some Buried Caesar|
|Calanthe veitchi sandhustiana||Too Many Clients|
|Lycaste delicatissima||Too Many Clients|
|Dendrobium nobile||Murder is Corny||Ch2||"I went to Wolfe's desk and got the vase of orchids, Dendrobium nobile that day, removed the flowers and put them on my desk pad, went to her, got fingers under her chin and forced her head up, and sloshed her good."|
|Miltonia roezli||Counterfeit for Murder||Ch5||"It isn't easy to pass down the aisles of those three rooms without stopping, even in an emergency, but that time I stopped only once, where a group of Miltonia roezlis were sporting more than fifty racemes on four feet of bench. It was the best crop of Miltonias Wolfe (and Theodore) had ever had."|
|Odontoglossum pyramus||Death of a Demon||Ch6||"In the morning Wolfe came down from the plant rooms at eleven o'clock as usual, and as usual I had the mail opened and the dusting done and fresh water in the vase on his desk. He went first to the front of the desk to put a spray of orchids in the vase, Odontoglossum Pyramus, then circled around to his chair."|
|Maltonia Sanderae (Miltonia Sanerae)||Doorbell Rang|
|Odontoglossum Pyramus||Doorbell Rang||Ch9||"He sat, forked a mussel to his mouth, used his tongue and teeth on it, swallowed, nodded and said, ‘Mr. Hewitt has bloomed four crosses between Maltonia Sanderae and Odontoglossum Pyramus. One of them is worth naming.'"|
|Phalaenopsis Aphrodite||Doorbell Rang|
|Oncidium flexuosum||Doorbell Rang||Ch11||He told Wolfe he was extremely sorry, he apologized, but he would be able to include only twelve Phalaenopsis Aphrodite in the shipment instead of twenty, and no Oncidium flexuosum at all.|
|Angraecum sesquipedale||Fer-de-Lance||Ch2||"He said without looking up, ‘Pray for this side, Archie. If it's this one we shall have an Angræcum sesquipedale for Christmas.' "|
|Brassocattlaelais truffautianas||League of Frightened Men||ChXVI||
"No. Fritz has aired it, and the heat is on; it has been properly prepared, even to brassocattlaelais truffautianas in the bowl."
(This is the first and only mention of orchids in the south room and the first and only mention of a bowl for an orchid in the brownstone.)
|Dendrobium chrystoxum||Final Deduction||
|Laelia purpurata||Final Deduction||Ch6||"Dendrobium chrysotoxum for Miss Gillard and Laelia purpurata for Doctor Vollmer."|
|Miltonia vexillaria||Final Deduction||Ch2||"That day's orchids were a raceme of Miltonia vexillaria brought by him as usual when he had come down from the plant rooms at eleven o'clock."|
|Oncidium marshallianum||Final Deduction||Ch3||"Wolfe had come down from the plant rooms and gone to his desk, put a spray of Oncidium marshallianum in the vase, torn yesterday from his desk calendar, and gone through the mail, and was dictating a long letter to an orchid collector in Guatemala."|
|Miltonia roezli||Final Deduction||Ch11||"It was nearer fifteen minutes than ten when the sound came of the elevator, and Wolfe entered, a spray of Miltonia roezli in his left hand and the Sunday Times under his right arm."
|Laelia gouldiana||Gambit||Ch6||"He entered, with the days desk orchids as usual, said good morning, went and put the branch of Laelia gouldiana in the vase, sat, glanced through the morning mail, focused on me and demanded ‘Where is she?' "|
|Phalaenopsis Aphrodite||Gambit||Ch6||"I went up the three flights and through the aluminum door into the vestibule, and the door to the warm room, where the Miltonia roezli and Phalaenopsis Aphrodite were in full bloom."|
|Vanda caerulea||Gambit||Ch3:||"Some guy on Long Island wanted to know if we could let him have three plants in bloom of Vanda caerulea."|
|Laelia gouldiana||Murder Is No Joke||Ch1||He opened his eyes. ‘I'm quite aware of it,' he growled. ‘Confound it. Bring me the records on Laelia gouldiana.'|
|Renanthera imschootiana||Fourth of July Picnic||Ch?||"Afraid, by heaven, afraid to go into the tropical room to look over the Renanthera imschootiana!"|
|Cypridium lawrencaenum hyeanum||Mother Hunt||Ch4||
"As I approached he turned his head and growled, 'Well?'
He is supposed to be interrupted up there only in an emergency.
'Nothing urgent,' I said. 'Just to tell you that I'm taking a Cypripedium lawrenceanum hyeanum -- one flower. To wear. A woman phoned about buttons, and when I meet her at twelve-thirty it will mark me.' "
|Cattleya mossiae reineckiana||Before Midnight||Ch7||"Up in the plant rooms on the roof it was Cattleya mossiae time. Of Wolfe's fourteen varieties of mossiae my favorite was reineckiana, with its white, yellow, lilac and violet."|
|Miltonia roezli||Omit Flowers||Ch8||"Wolfe was in the intermediate room inspecting some two year Miltonia roezlis."|
|Laeliocattleya luminosa aurea||Red Box|
|Miltonia roezli||Right to Die||Ch5||"When he entered the office, naturally he didn't offer a hand, since he knows that Wolfe is not a shaker, but before he lowered his fanny onto the red leather chair he uttered a polite greeting and actually made a try at being sociable by asking, 'And how are the orchids?'
Wolfe's brows went up. 'Passable, thank you. A pot of Miltonia roezli has fourteen scapes.'
'Is that so?'"
|Phalaenopsis Aphrodite||Right to Die||Ch9||"It was useless to try to start conversation until he had put a spray of Phalaenopsis aphrodite in the vase and glanced through the mail."|
|Vanda suavis||Right to Die||Ch12||"He put a raceme of Vanda suavis in the vase, sat, and started looking through the mail, no hurry. 'Take your time,' Cramer said, icy. 'Take my time. We've got all day. . .'"|
|Dendrobium bensoniae||Second Confession||Ch2||"Of course I saw it every day, and I had business on my mind, but even so I slowed up as I passed a bench of white and yellow Dendrobium bensoniae that were just at their peak."|
|Odontoglossum harryanum||Second Confession||"Finally Wolfe got to where a dozen Odontoglossum harryanum, his current pride and joy, were kept.|
|Ch?||"By God," I said when I could speak, "he brought you an orchid." "Brassocattleya Thorntoni," Wolfe purred. "Handsome."|
This is a list the of orchids named for corpus characters as found on the Royal Horticultural Society's list of named hybrids.
Phalaenopsis Nero Wolfe
Seed Parent: Phalaenopsis Jean McPherson
Pollen Parent: Phalaenopsis Sidney Wittorf
Registrant/Originator: Zuma Canyon
Date of registration: 01/11/81
Pleione Nero Wolfe
Seed Parent: Pleione praecox
Pollen Parent: Pleione bulbocodioides
Date of registration: 01/01/85
Brassolaelia Nero Woolf
Seed Parent: Laelia xanthina
Pollen Parent: Brassavola glauca
Date of registration: 01/01/76
Epidendrum Archie Goodwin
Seed Parent: Epidendrum megalanthum
Pollen Parent: Epidendrum dichromum
Date of registration: 11/04/91
Pleione Archie Goodwin
Seed Parent: Pleione bulbocodioides
Pollen Parent: Pleione yunnanensis
Date of registration: 01/01/88
Sally Colt Phal.
Lin Jessica x Dtps. Elmore's Sweetheart A.Pickrel (Breckinridge)
Saul Panzer Phal.
Fortune Buddha x Dtps. Taisuco Melody A.Pickrel (Breckinridge)
Life Magazine, 15 September, 1963
by Archie Goodwin
When people ask me why Nero Wolfe grows orchids I ask them which they are interested in, orchids or him. If they ask what difference that makes, I say it makes all the difference. If they are curious about orchids, the best and simplest answer is to take them up to the plant rooms, but if they're curious about Nero Wolfe, there are a dozen different answers and they are all complicated."
Wolfe's flowers go all they way from the showiest to the shyest. He has a Cattleya hybrid, bred by him, which threw it's first flower last year, that is twice as gaudy as anything you ever saw in a florist shop, and he has a Cymbidium hybrid, ensifolium x Sanderae, bred by him in 1953, so coy that it makes one little flower each year: off-white, the size of a dime, hidden down in the foliage. Once I saw him scowling at it and muttering, "Confound you, are you too timid or too proud?"
If he ever talks to himself he keeps it strictly private, but I have often heard him talk to orchids. He'll cock his head at a bench of Miltonias in full bloom and say distinctly, "Much too loud. Why don't you learn to whisper?" Not that he ever whispers.
Wolfe started on orchids many years ago with a specimen plant of Vanda suavis, given to him by the wife of a man he had cleared on a murder rap. He kept it in the office and it petered out. He got mad, built a little shed on the roof and bought 20 plants. Now the plant rooms are 34x86, the size of the house. He hasn't bought a plant from a commercial grower for 10 years, but he sells some --- a hundred or more a year.
Of the four hours a day he spends up in the plants rooms --- 9 to 11 in the morning and 4 to 6 in the afternoon --- not more than 20 minutes is spent looking at flowers. First he makes a tour through the aisles, which are 30 inches wide instead of the usual two feet --- the tropical room, the intermediate, and the cool --- and then on to the potting room. He nods to Theodore, the gardener, and says, "Well?" Theodore says either, "Well enough," or something like, "A pod of Coelogyne will be ready in two days."
Then work. It may be real work, like bringing a dozen old plants from one of the rooms for dividing and repotting, or opening a bale of osmunda fiber and inspecting it; or it may be merely getting a tape and going to the cool room to measure the panicles of Odontoglossums. It can be any of the thousand chores that orchids take --- mixing fertilizer, labeling, presoaking new pots, checking ventilation and humidity, adjusting shade screens, stripping bulb sheaths, chipping charcoal, and so forth, forever and ever with no amen. Except spraying. Wolfe hates it, and Theodore does it when he's not there.
Of course, most of the chores are for breeding, not growing. Buying a dozen or so orchid plants and keeping them going and blooming in a house or apartment is no trick at all, but hybridizing is a career. Usually an orchid flower is both male and female, so deciding on father and mother is up to Nero Wolfe. Having cross-pollenated, he waits seven months to a year for the seed pod to mature and ripen. A large pod will have a million or more seeds. They are among the smallest of all plant seeds.
The preparations in a hospital operating room for an appendectomy are nothing compared to the fuss of planting a batch of orchid seed. What Wolfe has to keep out is fungus. If one microscopic fungus cell gets in a bottle with the seed, it goes to work on the nutrient jelly in which the infant flower is planted, and goodbye seed. If he does it right and is lucky, in nine or 10 months he scoops the tiny half-inch seedlings out of the bottle and plants them in community pots. A year later he transplants them to individual three-inch pots and in another two years to 4½-inch pots, and crosses his fingers. Then five or six or seven years since the day he put pollen to stigma, he sees an orchid no one ever saw before. It is different from any orchid that has ever bloomed, including those in the Garden of Eden. The differences may be very slight, or there may be flaws, but about once in every five times his orchid will be worthy of dad and mom, and there is one chance in ten thousand that it will be a absolute stunner. Since he has seen only a fraction of the many thousands of named and listed hybrids, he can't be sure until the day some grower takes a long hard look at his baby and says casually, "Interesting little plant. I'll give you $400 for it." Then he'll know that in a few years orchid catalogues will list one more named for him, or at least by him.
In the past twenty years Nero Wolfe has had that happen 14 times, and he has on his benches a total of 112 unnamed varieties bred by him and good enough to keep. Okay, that's very satisfactory, and it's one of the reasons he grow orchids; but it's not the main one. He grows orchids chiefly for the same reason that he wears bright yellow shirts: for the color.
I said he spends only 20 minutes of the four hours looking at flowers, but that's a lot. Anyway he gets some special kind of kick from color. He says you don't look at color, you feel it, and apparently he thinks that really means something.
It doesn't to me, but maybe it does to you and you know exactly how he feels as he opens the door to the plant rooms and walks in on the big show. I have never known a day when less than a hundred plants were in bloom, and sometimes there are a thousand, from the pure white of dainty little Dendrobium nobile virginalis to the yellow-tan-bronze-mahogany-purple of big and gaudy Laelia tenebrosa. It is unquestionably worth a look --- or, if you react the same way Wolfe does, a feel.
One question I don't know the answer to and can only guess at is why he cuts the ones he brings down to the office every morning for the vase on his desk. Why not bring the plant, since then the flowers would be good for another week or more? Because he would have to take it back up again? No; he could just add that to my daily chores. Because he thinks that particular spike or raceme has been around long enough? No; sometimes it will be a very special item, like the dwarf Vanda with green dots that a commercial grower offered him $1,200 for. Because he hates to carry things? That could be, but he carries plenty of them from the growing rooms to the potting rooms and back again. The best guess is that he doesn't want to give a plant a shadow of an excuse not to go on blossoming at peak efficiency. If a Zygopetalum has a cluster of eight flowers this year, and next year only six, it could blame it on the day in the office --- not enough light and the temperature and humidity wrong; and although you can say pfui to an orchid plant, and Wolfe often does, there's no real satisfaction in it.
How does he decide each morning which one he will cut for his desk vase that day? I have had various theories, but none of them has stood up. One was that it depended on the bank balance. If the balance was high, say 50 grand, he would pick something extra flashy; if it was low, down to four figures, it would be something subdued like a brown speckled Dendrobium. That theory lasted three days. When I told him about it he grunted and said, "The flower a woman chooses depends on the woman. The flower a man chooses depends on the flower."