Australians Can Join a National Orchid Research Effort

Posted March 12th, 2022 by Marc Cohen
Categories: Conservation, In the News

Citizen scientists can contribute a lot to orchid research. Australians can help by finding wild orchids and taking photos. First, choose an area to explore by checking the Atlas of Living Australia. Next, go into the wild, and be observant and curious. Take photos, not plants. Then, upload the pictures to iNaturalist Australia or Wild Orchid Watch. To help limit illegal plant poaching, it’s best to remove location metadata before posting online. Experts will verify the plant identity. Researchers and conservationists can use the records for their work.

Aussie orchids can be found all around coastal and inland areas, and there are even some desert species. Like much of its native wildlife, Australian orchids are fascinating and often bizarre. From Sun Orchids, Rock Orchids, and Donkey Orchids, to Greenhoods and Flying Duck Orchids, there are varieties which are showy, and others which don’t even look like flowers. Scientists hope to sequence DNA from every Australian native orchid species to understand and conserve them better.

More from Pacific Orchid Expo 2022

Posted March 6th, 2022 by Marc Cohen
Categories: Photos

Dendrobium Star King 'Irvine', orchid hybrid flowers, purple white and yellow flowers, Pacific Orchid Expo 2022, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CaliforniaDracula vampira 'Pandora', orchid species flower, almost black flower, unusual flower, pleurothallid, Pacific Orchid Expo 2022, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CaliforniaMasdevallia Pharoah, orchid hybrid flower, purple flower, pleurothallid, Pacific Orchid Expo 2022, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, California

Phragmipedium besseae 'Haven' x 'Smokin', Lady Slipper, Phrag, orchid species flower, close up of flower lip, red and yellow flower, Pacific Orchid Expo 2022, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CaliforniaBonatea speciosa 'Green Egret' AM/AOS, orchid species flower, unusual flower, green and white flower, green wood orchid, moederkappie, Oktoberlelie, Pacific Orchid Expo 2022, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CaliforniaPhalaenopsis Joy Fairy Tale, Phal, Moth Orchid hybrid flower, peloric flower, Pacific Orchid Expo 2022, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, California

Here are few more photos from last weekend’s big orchid show. The exhibit area and the sales area both featured wide varieties of species and hybrids. There was so much more than standard supermarket orchids. The flower colors, shapes, and fragrances inspired lots of superlatives. A few types, like the purple and white Dendrobium in the first picture above, had such strong scents that I could smell them through my mask. Whether it was the latest, showiest hybrids, or tiny, obscure species, there was something for everyone.

Laeliocattleya Cinnamon Sparkler, Cattleya orchid hybrid flowers with Cymbidium flowers in background, Pacific Orchid Expo 2022, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CaliforniaCattlianthe Tutankamen, Cattleya orchid hybrid flowers with award ribbons on plant, deep red flowers, Pacific Orchid Expo 2022, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CaliforniaClowesia Rebecca Northen 'Grapefruit Pink', orchid hybrid flowers with fringed lips, Pacific Orchid Expo 2022, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, California

Zygoneria Adelaide Meadows, Zygopetalum orchid hybrid flower and leaves, purple green and white flower, Pacific Orchid Expo 2022, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CaliforniaMaxillaria chacoensis 'Napa Valley', orchid hybrid flower, Pacific Orchid Expo 2022, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CaliforniaCymbidium Khan Fury 'Black Plum', orchid hybrid flowers, dark red and white flowers, Pacific Orchid Expo 2022, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, California

March Orchid Events

Posted March 1st, 2022 by Marc Cohen
Categories: Events

The orchid show schedule is picking up with spring. Events listed below have basic health precautions. Last-minute cancellations may happen, so it’s wise to double-check before attending.

March 4 – 6
Virginia Orchid Society Show & Sale, Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, 1800 Lakeside Ave, Henrico, Virginia
March 4 – 6
Orchid Society of the Ozarks Show & Sale, Botanical Garden of the Ozarks, 4703 N. Crossover Rd., Fayetteville, Arkansas
March 4 – 6
Central California Orchid Society Show & Sale, part of the Fresno Home and Garden Show, Fresno Fair Grounds, 1121 S. Chance Ave., Fresno, California
March 4 – 6
Central Vancouver Island Orchid Society Show & Sale, Nanaimo North Town Center, 4750 Rutherford Rd., Nanaimo, British Columbia, Canada
March 5
Cheltenham & District Orchid Society Show, Churchdown Community Centre, Parton Rd., Churchdown, Gloucester, UK
March 5 – 6
Wisconsin Orchid Society Festival, Milaeger’s Garden Center, 4838 Douglas Ave., Racine, Wisconsin
March 5 – 6
Tucson Orchid Society Show & Sale, Mesquite Valley Growers, 8005 E. Speedway Blvd., Tucson, Arizona
March 5 – 6
Mt. Baker Orchid Society Show & Sale, Christianson’s Nursery, 15806 Best Rd., Mt. Vernon, Washington
March 10 – 13
Exposición Nacional de Orquídeas, Jardín Botánico Lankester, 5 km (3,7 millas) al este de Cartago, carretera a Paraíso, Dulce Nombre, Cartago, Costa Rica
March 10 – 14
Rencontres Internationale d’Orchidées, L’Abbaye de Vaucelles, 59258 Les Rues des Vignes, Vaucelles, France

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An Orchid Masquerade

Posted February 26th, 2022 by Marc Cohen
Categories: Events, Growing Orchids in San Francisco, Photos

Cymbidium Strathdon 'Cooksbridge Fantasy', orchid hybrid flowers, peloric flowers, Pacific Orchid Expo 2022, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CaliforniaEpidendrum orchid hybrid flowers, colorful flowers, Pacific Orchid Expo 2022, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CaliforniaOrchid display with flowers, nametags and award ribbons, Pacific Orchid Expo 2022, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, California

Dave and I were thrilled to attend the Pacific Orchid Expo in San Francisco yesterday. After a two year break, the show is as superb as past events, and there are plenty of vendors to satisfy orchid shopping needs. This year’s theme is “Orchid Masquerade.” Taking advantage of the pun, exhibitors have displayed orchids with celebrations of this Tuesday’s Mardi Gras, and also have emphasized the mask requirements for attendance. The event continues today and tomorrow at Golden Gate Park’s County Fair Building, 9th Avenue and Lincoln Way, in San Francisco. These photos highlight a few of the show’s wonders. Don’t miss it!

Masdevallia MacInnes' Golden Heart, orchid hybrid flower, yellow flower, Pacific Orchid Expo 2022, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CaliforniaOrchid display with flowers, nametags and award ribbons, Pacific Orchid Expo 2022, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CaliforniaPaphiopedilum fairrieanum, orchid species flowers, Paph, Lady Slipper, Pacific Orchid Expo 2022, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, California

Cattlya orchid flowers, colorful flowers, Pacific Orchid Expo 2022, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CaliforniaRhyncattleanthe Ming Feng 'Dakini' HCC/AOS, Cattleya orchid hybrid flowers, Pacific Orchid Expo 2022, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CaliforniaOrchid flowers in County Fair Building, Pacific Orchid Expo 2022, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, California

Excitement Grows Ahead of the Pacific Orchid Expo

Posted February 21st, 2022 by Marc Cohen
Categories: Events, Growing Orchids in San Francisco, Photos

Paphiopedilum Bruno 'Model', orchid hybrid flower, Lady Slipper, Paph, Pacific Orchid Expo 2020, San Francisco, CaliforniaLaelia Canariensis 'Golden Glow', orchid hybrid flowers, yellow flowers, Pacific Orchid Expo 2018, San Francisco, CaliforniaDendrobium Mingles Sapphire x goldschmidtianum, orchid hybrid flowers, purple flowers, Pacific Orchid Expo 2017, San Francisco, California

Cymbidium Virginia Reyes Carreon 'Woodside' and other Cymbidiums, orchid hybrid flowers buds and leaves, Pacific Orchid Expo 2020, San Francisco, CaliforniaDendrobium mohlianum, orchid species flower, orange and purple flower, Pacific Orchid Expo 2020, San Francisco, CaliforniaLycaste orchid hybrid flowers, red pink and white flowers, Pacific Orchid Expo 2017, San Francisco, California
Excitement is growing ahead of the Pacific Orchid Expo, especially for me! I can’t wait to go to San Francisco’s first orchid show in two years, running from Friday, February 25th to Sunday, February 27th, with a special opening night on Thursday, February 24th. It will all happen at the County Fair Building, 1199 Ninth Avenue at Lincoln Way, in Golden Gate Park. Tickets are available online. Masks and proof of vaccination are required. These photos from the past few expos can only hint at the wonders to be found at this year’s show. See you there!

Sudamerlycaste locusta, orchid species flower, close-up of fringed flower lip, green flower, Pacific Orchid Expo 2019, San Francisco, CaliforniaSophrolaeliocattleya Jungle Treasure 'Mojave' HCC/AOS x Blc Waianiae Leopard 'Ching Hua' HCC/AOS, Cattleya orchid hybrid flowers, Pacific Orchid Expo 2017, San Francisco, CaliforniaMasdevallia Jaime Posada, orchid hybrid flower, orange flower with purplish-red stripes, pleurothallid, Pacific Orchid Expo 2019, San Francisco, California

Phragmipedium Noirmont, Lady Slipper orchid hybrid flower, red and yellow flower, Phrag, Pacific Orchid Expo 2017, San Francisco, CaliforniaRhynchostylis gigantea, orchid species flowers, deep purple and white flowers, Pacific Orchid Expo 2019, San Francisco, CaliforniaTrichopilia suavis, orchid species flowers, Pacific Orchid Expo 2020, San Francisco, California

Winter Is the New Summer

Posted February 15th, 2022 by Marc Cohen
Categories: Conservation, General Gardening, Problems

Over a dozen years ago, I was at an orchid show here in California, talking with a Hawaiian grower. I remember him saying that his orchids hadn’t gone dormant properly that year because they had a “hot winter.” That paradoxical phrase stuck with me. It seemed like an omen of climate change.

Now it’s 2022, and the SF Bay Area is having a hot winter. We live near San Francisco in Pacifica, a town known for cool, foggy weather. But early February has shown us repeated days that are just shy of 80°F (27°C.) While we’ve always had a mild climate, that’s much warmer than our winter norms. Historically, February is one of our rainiest months, but this year, there hasn’t been a drop for a month. We started our autumn rainy season with some heavy storms, but the weather returned to dry, warm drought conditions afterwards.

I’m certainly not one to complain about warm and sunny days, but it’s strange when winter seems like summer. It’s great that our furnace isn’t running, and that we’re wearing shorts instead of heavy coats and waterproof boots. But it’s yet another sign, along with a fire season which now spans the entire year, and other extreme weather events, that climate change is here. It’s already directly affecting our lives, and the lives of all the flora and fauna around us.

For my orchids, the warm temps and dry air means lots of watering. It’s a struggle to balance the dormant varieties’ need for a dry season with their need not to bake to a crisp. I don’t have any automated systems, but hand-water everything instead. That means that I have to water my plants daily, and spray down their leaves repeatedly to improve humidity. It’s much more watering than I usually do during summer. This weather also forces me to postpone any orchid repotting, since the warm, dry air is already stressing the plants. Now that winter is our new summer, what will our summer look like?

This growing catastrophe is especially infuriating because we have long known what the problem is, and how to fix it. The greed of powerful coal, oil, and gas companies prevents any effective actions. The longer we wait to tackle it, the worse it will be. We will require more extreme actions to change course. As we head off the climate change cliff, I’m afraid a very deep abyss awaits.

A Succulent Oasis at Ruth Bancroft Garden

Posted February 8th, 2022 by Marc Cohen
Categories: General Gardening, Photos

Agave victoriae-reginae, Queen Victoria Agave, variegated leaves with white stripes, succulent species, Ruth Bancroft Garden, Walnut Creek, CaliforniaBanksia flower, unusual yellow flower, succulent species, Australian Honeysuckle, Ruth Bancroft Garden, Walnut Creek, CaliforniaSpiral shaped cactus, cluster of small cacti, Ruth Bancroft Garden, Walnut Creek, California

In Walnut Creek, California, Ruth Bancroft Garden is a succulent oasis. We recently enjoyed a visit, and were awed by the astounding array of cacti, succulents, and trees suited for arid climates. Many of the blooms are colorful architectural masterpieces. On top of that, the incredible geometry of the plants themselves is some of Mother Nature’s best work.

Aloe schelpei, succulent species, orange and red flowers, Ruth Bancroft Garden, Walnut Creek, CaliforniaGroup planting of small cactus and succulent species, Ruth Bancroft Garden, Walnut Creek, CaliforniaChilean wine palm, Jubaea chilensis, palm tree species, Ruth Bancroft Garden, Walnut Creek, California

Cactus, cactus with silver paddles, Ruth Bancroft Garden, Walnut Creek, CaliforniaBoophone disticha, succulent plant species, fan shaped plant with wavy leaves, Ruth Bancroft Garden, Walnut Creek, CaliforniaGrevillea 'Kings Fire', red flowers and honeybee, Ruth Bancroft Garden, Walnut Creek, California

These plants are certainly well-equipped to handle California’s long drought. They make the most of every drop of water, with leaves and stems evolved to reduce moisture loss and withstand the sun. Sharp spines deter thirsty herbivores. Some are disguised as stones, until they loudly announce their presence with brilliant flowers. With shapes which seem to stretch the definition of what a plant can be, succulents are endlessly fascinating.

Succulent close up, green variegated succulent with thorns, Ruth Bancroft Garden, Walnut Creek, CaliforniaCactus and succulents, Barrel Cactus, Ruth Bancroft Garden, Walnut Creek, CaliforniaPrickly Pear Cactus fruit, ripening purple and green fruit, Ruth Bancroft Garden, Walnut Creek, California

Agaves and succulents, Barrel Cactus, Ruth Bancroft Garden, Walnut Creek, CaliforniaSucculent plant, starfish-like plant, Ruth Bancroft Garden, Walnut Creek, CaliforniaUnusual succulent flower, Ruth Bancroft Garden, Walnut Creek, California

The garden includes a nursery with a wide selection of plants for sale. We came home with seeds for native California Poppies in purple and cream colors, to add to our own little garden oasis.

Learn more about Ruth Bancroft Garden in this post about our previous visit.

February Orchid Events

Posted February 1st, 2022 by Marc Cohen
Categories: Events

February brings lots of orchid events. Check for last-minute changes or cancellations before attending. Only shows with health precautions are listed below. I’m especially excited about the return of San Francisco’s fantastic Pacific Orchid Expo at the end of the month, with mask and vaccination requirements to help ensure everyone’s safety.

February 4 – 6
Susquehanna Orchid Society Show, Milton and Catherine Hershey Conservatory, Hershey Gardens, 170 Hotel Rd., Hershey, Pennsylvania
February 4 – 6
Greater Cleveland Orchid Society Show & Sale, Cleveland Botanical Garden, 11030 East Blvd., Cleveland, Ohio
February 4 – 6
Salon Rêve d’Orchidées, La Salle Vergèze, 169 Rue du Charron, Vergèze, France
February 5 – 6
Venice Area Orchid Society Show & Sale, Venice Community Center, 326 S. Nokomis Ave., Venice, Florida
February 5 – 6
Kew Orchid Festival, Princess of Wales Conservatory, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, London, UK
February 11 – 13
Salon International de l’Orchidée & Plantes d’exception, Espace Culturel des Terres Blanches, Hôtel de Ville, Bouc-Bel-Air, France
February 11 – 13
Festival de Orquideas Escazú, Villa Deportiva de Escazú, Escazú, San Jose, Costa Rica
February 12 – 13
Illinois Orchid Society Spring Show, Chicago Botanic Garden, 1000 Lake Cook Rd., Glencoe, Illinois
February 12 – 13
Darlington & District Orchid Society Festival, Strikes Garden Centre, The Roundabout, Meadowfields, Stokesley, North Yorkshire, UK
February 23 – March 21
Mille & Une Orchidées, Grandes Serres du Jardin des Plantes, 57 rue Cuvier, Paris, France

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Hunt for Orchids at the Huntington

Posted January 25th, 2022 by Marc Cohen
Categories: Conservation, Misc

In San Marino, California, the Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens house over 10,000 orchids. It’s one of the largest and most diverse collections in the world, and just one reason why it’s worth visiting the Huntington. However, if you can’t visit in person, you can take a virtual tour of the Huntington’s orchids. There are lots of Paphs, Phrags, Cymbidiums, Cattleyas, Stanhopeas, and much more. Their website features gorgeous photos, interactive maps, and lots of orchid information. New pictures are added monthly. Scientists use the collection for conservation and research. The Huntington also keeps an array of historic hybrids which have become a big part of modern horticulture.

Donkey Orchids And Their Tricks

Posted January 16th, 2022 by Marc Cohen
Categories: In the News, Orchids in the Wild, Videos

In Perth, Australia, biologist Daniela Scaccabarozzi, PhD, uncovers the complicated lives of Donkey Orchids. Named for their petals which stick up like donkey ears, Donkey Orchids such as Diuris magnifica and Diuris brumalis don’t offer nectar. However, they resemble nearby flowers which do. This food mimicry tricks bees into visiting. Failing to find nectar, the bees involuntarily help with pollination. Check out the videos below for more.