This section deals only with flower shape. Various colour forms are available within each shape, these are discussed elsewhere. Pictures are shown only in black and white to emphasis that the names here apply to shape only.
The ‘natural’ shape, exhibited by most plants, has a lip with three lobes: the two side lobes point down, and are smaller than the middle lobe.
Desirable cultivars have larger flowers than common plants, as well as a strong and distinctive colour pattern.
As it is the normal state of things, this name is often assumed and so missed out when describing colour and pattern.
The side lobes of the lip are much more prominent, often overlapping the middle lobe and, in many cases, they resemble ears. The ears vary in size and can be as large as the central lobe as well as mimicking its colour pattern. Only one form is shown.
A large selection of outstanding, differently coloured NIOH forms is available, and it is probably the most beautiful of the flower shapes.
The side lobes are integrated into the middle lobe, thus many cultivars appear to have no lobes at all, but a wide, rounded, entire lip, as wide as it is long.
This shape is relatively rare, and therefore it is still comparatively expensive.
Different colour patterns exist within this shape from self coloured to white or bicoloured clones.
This name refers to plants that have an asymmetrical flower. Imagine that the flower faced you, and was then cut in half, top to bottom, through its centre. In flowers of the Shishizaki shape, the two resulting halves would not be mirror images.
The group is diverse but one example is Himiwa – a clone in which the petals have strongly ruffled or crinkled edges, so that the two halves in the example could not be the same.
This funny name is a catch-all name for all plants that cannot be placed into the other shapes. It contains plants which consistently develop monstrous flowers.
Also grouped here are peloric forms, ones in which the side petals have mutated to resemble the lip, as in the picture.
Finally the group includes any flower that is simply ‘odd’ and does not fit into the pattern of the other shapes.
Contained within the loose group are some of the most most spectacular and highly esteemed plants, as well as some of the the most expensive.
Text, content and pictures © P.J. Christian, BSc Phd 2015