At the outbreak of World War II, curators of museums across Europe scrambled to pack up their priceless artworks, artifacts, and prized collections to protect them from potential harm. Meanwhile botanists in Europe were also pondering ways to preserve rare and precious plants as conservatories and greenhouses were being torn down for scrap metal.
Stuart Low Company, a plant hybridizer in Great Britain, sent one of its prized plants to their closest ally: the United States. This paphiopedilum would end up changing the way Americans bred Bulldog Slipper Orchid hybrids. Two cultivars—“Indomitable” and “Redoubtable”—went on to win First Class Certificates from the American Orchid Society, the highest awards an orchid could receive. In 1951 it was registered with the Royal Horticultural Society and named Paphiopedilum Winston Churchill.
The Huntington is proud to have original divisions of this plant in its orchid collection. Just as any book can tell a story, so too a plant.
Brandon Tam is The Huntington’s orchid specialist.