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Vol. 13(12), pp. 17-19The McAllen International Orchid Society JournalDecember 2012

Contemplating plants which maintain their species integrity by very different mechanisms

Greig Russell

Some of the many different definitions of the word 'species' include phrases which suggest that these are low-level taxonomic units that are unable to make fertile hybrids with related taxa. Whereas this may apply quite strictly within the animal kingdom (consider mules), amongst plants, and especially amongst the orchids, fertile hybrids are met with quite often. Sander's List of Orchid Hybrids bears testament to this, where hybrids containing the genetic input of a large number of species, stretching over many generations, can be found. Such sexual promiscuity is a noted feature of our beloved Orchidaceae.

Fig. 1. Oxalis lutea, growing in the author's garden. Noted by author's brother as unique to the lower slope of Slangkop, location of the author's home. Digital photo 000-0031.jpg; Sun-20Jul-08; modified Thur-04Sept-08.

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Copyright © 2012 Greig Russell