NABOKV-L post 0010942, Wed, 19 Jan 2005 17:37:53 -0800

Fw: ada orchid

----- Original Message -----
From: Jansy Berndt de Souza Mello
To: don barton johnson
Cc: Vladimir Nabokov Forum
Sent: Tuesday, January 18, 2005 1:00 PM
Subject: Fw: ada orchid

Chapter One of Ada describes a list with, among other things:

"Petal of orchid, one of 99 orchids, if you please, mailed to me yesterday, Special Delivery, c'est bien le cas de le dire, from Villa Armina, Alpes Maritimes. Have laid aside ten for Aqua to be taken to her at her Home. Ex en Valais, Switzerland. 'Snowing in Fate's crystal ball,' as he used to say. (Date erased.)" and a little further, Ada comments on it: " 'I can add,' said the girl, 'that the petal belongs to the common Butterfly Orchis; that my mother was even crazier than her sister; and that the paper flower so cavalierly dismissed is ..."

Carolyn Kunin has made a link between Armenia and Villa Armina ( in Ada), besides several other references which she might be interested to bring up again for us.
My point is: if the "Butterfly Orchis" is a variant of the"Ada" orchid ( an Oncidium ) and if ( there are sooo many "if" here!) we can confirm the reference to Ada, Artemisia II and Mausolos in Anatolia to the choice for the orchid´s name, then there would be little doubt that VN was stressing his knowledge about Queen "Ada" in Halicarnassus. That´s how I see at the moment the meaning of "Armenia" in VN´s text. .

Unfortunately I could not discover if the Butterfly Orchis could be a variant of the Ada orchid.
I found out that "For many years this species was listed as Oncidium papilio and some of you still may find some a specimen with a tag that lists it as an Oncidium. It was finally officially placed into the Psychopsis genus which was originally recommended in 1838 by Rafinesque. There are five species currently found in this genus; kramerianum, papilio, sanderae, versteegiana, and limminghei. (the valid inclusion of limminghei is still debated). The change in this genus has been slow, so many of these are still referenced under Oncidium. Another related ( and often confused genus) is Psycopsiella. Maybe some day everyone will agree where these butterflies belong"
The observarion above came from the internet and was written by Linda Fortner when writing about " A Special Butterfly" ( Aug. 2000), "The Butterfly Orchid," or Psychopsis papilio . According to her ... "The species are naturally wide spread from Trinidad to Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador and Panama. The foliage of these species is very different from other orchids. The leaves look like donkey ears. They are very stiff, rough in texture, and are dull red or grayish green in color. The inflorescence can reach heights up to 150 cm tall, are jointed and flat. These spikes can remain active for many years producing one flower at a time in succession, a dream of every one that grows orchids. The spectacular flower is the reason it is called "The Butterfly Orchid." It looks like a butterfly with a large brightly colored body, very long antennas, and wings barred with yellow and rust brown.

I hope our list offers various orchid experts and historians that could confirm, deny or enrich this link.