ACEO, an association that brings Cattleya labiata “in its blood”
Associação Cearense de Orquidófilos (ACEO) was founded on October 26, 1977, being one of the pioneer entities in the North and Northeast of Brazil in its segment.
The North American Arthur Peterson was the founder of the then Cearense Society of Orchidists. He was given the role of grouping people interested in orchid cultivation and leading the work of setting up the new entity.
The first meetings took place at his house. In these meetings, they talked about cultivation techniques, new plant acquisitions and eventual collection expeditions in the humid mountains of Ceará. There were no exhibitions and, according to the late Waldir Lima Leite, one of the founding partners, who would later preside over ACEO, “we were not concerned about who had the most beautiful plant”.
In a statement to journalist Italo Gurgel, for the ACEO website, Waldir commented that, at the time, it was common to find people selling Cattleya labiata on the streets of the Capital. Large quantities of “parasites”, as the plants were called, were displayed, hanging by strings, on the two ends of a pole that the seller balanced on his shoulders.
Little by little, the Society contributed to the dissemination of knowledge and beautiful nurseries began to appear. Waldir Leite himself collected around 10,000 plants.
The beauty of the labiatas from Ceará, smaller than those from other regions of the Northeast, but with better shape and beautiful color patterns, would soon attract the attention of collectors from other states.
Reproducing what had already happened in the 1940s and 1950s, the 1990s witnessed the deplorable extermination of entire populations of C. labiata in the Maranguape and Urubueretama mountains. The demand came from collectors in Fortaleza but, above all, from those in the Center-South of the country.
It was not uncommon to find, in the backyards of some houses, dozens of individuals rotting together, as a result of irrational collections, without the proper resources to keep the plants healthy, before exporting them.
Gradually, the Association lost strength, reaching the point of completely suspending its activities for a few years.
On April 21, 2007, thanks to the efforts of a small group of new collectors, the entity was restructured and renamed Associação Cearense de Orquidófilos.
A calendar of regular meetings was started and exhibitions were organized, which attracted up to 20,000 people, being honored by the presence of great names of national orchidophilia, invited to give lectures and fraternize with Ceará's orchid lovers.
Thanks to the vision of the new leaders, ACEO began to publicize the idea of fighting the illegal orchid trade. To discourage the purchase of “bush orchids”, collective purchases were organized in judicious commercial nurseries.
Gradually, the collections were enriched, while investment was made in the knowledge and dissemination of modern cultivation techniques. One of the results of this work: contrary to what happens in several cities, in the ACEO exhibitions there is no deplorable presence of “mateiros”.
Strongly impacted by the Covid 19 pandemic – as, indeed, all other orchidophile entities in the country – today ACEO takes care of regrouping its members, having returned to meet, once a month, at Casa de José de Alencar, a beautiful facility culture of the Federal University of Ceará.
It also promotes raffles, with a generous distribution of plants, and has already held an informal meeting in the orchid nursery of one of the associates, as well as a small exhibition, in a mall in Fortaleza, seeking to enchant the public with the beauty of orchids again.
ACEO, whose symbol is a stylized representation of Cattleya labiata Lindl., has among its objectives, in addition to bringing together people interested in orchidophilia: to fight for the preservation of orchids in their natural environment, to support the research of native species, to share technical information with related activities, encourage the publication of technical-scientific works, survey and reconstruct the history of orchidophilia in Ceará and promote exhibitions, fairs, courses, lectures, seminars, symposia and other events that contribute to publicizing the responsible cultivation of orchids in Ceará.