Phalaenopsis violacea var. bellina Rchb.f., Gard. Chron., n.s. 22:262. 1884. TYPE: Origin unknown, Hort. B. S. Williams s.n. (HOLOTYPE: W).
Phalaenopsis violacea var. chloracea Rchb.f., Gard. Chron., n.s. 22: 262. 1884. TYPE: Origin unknown, Hort. Veitch s.n. (HOLOTYPE: W).
Sweet (1968-1969: 42) listed the variety chloracea as a synonym of the variety bellina, maintaining the latter as the correct name on the basis of priority. The priority referred to by Sweet concerns the dates at which the type material was prepared and not the dates of publication. Sweet's selec- tion of bellina over chloracea determined, however, the applicable name (ICBN, Art. 57.2). Though the variety murtoniana was described earlier than the variety bellina, we choose the latter because it represents the most common color phase of the species. Because names do not have priority outside of their rank (ICBN, Art. 60), the selection of the later variety bellina as the basionym for the species is not a problem.
It may be seen as unfortunate, from a horticultural viewpoint, to alter the name of the Bomean plants from P. violacea to P. bellina. Plants of P. bellina are more frequently grown than P. violacea and, with the exception of P. violacea var. alba, have been more widely utilized in breeding pro- grams. Phalaenopsis bellina has yet to make a significant contribution to commercial floriculture hybrids, due primarily to its sequentially few-flowered racemes, a trait that is frequently transmitted to its progeny. Discussion with several professional orchid breeders associated with the International Phalaenopsis Alliance shows a desire to have a separate name for the distinct P. bellina as a matter of convenience and precise communication.
It has been suggested that these two taxa be treated as subspecies of one species for horticultural convenience, thereby retaining the name P. violacea for most uses. This approach would be similar to the unscientific acceptance of both Paphiopedilum barbatum (Lindl.) Pfitz. and P. callosum (Rchb.f.) Stein, despite a general assessment that those species represent end points of one cline (q.v. Cribb, 1987; Seidenfaden & Wood, 1992: 42). This course, even if one is willing to accept a philosophy of convenience, does not apply to these two species of Phalaenopsis. Historic reports of the Bornean type plants from Peninsular Malaya have been confirmed with recent living collections (Grisebach, pers. comm.) although the floral fragrance of these Malayan P. bellina has not been analyzed. That these taxa are sympatric for part of their range rein- forces their treatment as separate species and eliminates the possibility of maintain- ing them as subspecies
As stated earlier, P. bellina is somewhat variable in its floral coloration. Following the work of Sweet (1980), three horticultural variants appear to merit recognition. There is no data available to suggest that these three color variants have either distinct geo- graphic ranges or occur frequently within any given population. Therefore, the fol- lowing three taxa are recognized as forms rather than subspecies or varieties: