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Welcome to the San Francisco Orchid Society

Welcome to the San Francisco Orchid Society web site. We are lucky to reside in one of the best parts of the country for the cultivation of orchids in the home, greenhouse, and garden. It is our hope that our site, our meetings, and our members will spark your enthusiasm to give this most satisfying hobby a try!

San Francisco Orchid Society Meetings

The San Francisco Orchid Society meets on the first Tuesday of every month.

Located at San Francisco County Fair Building (Hall of Flowers), adjacent to the San Francisco Botanical Garden at Strybing Arboretum (at Ninth Avenue and Lincoln Way, San Francisco).

Plants submitted for American Orchid Society Judging must be entered between 6:30 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. The meeting will start at 7:30 p.m.

Contact SFOS at

Next Meeting: February 7, 2017 – 7:00 p.m.

February Speaker: Steve Beckendorf, PhD (Professor Emeritus of Genetics, Genomics and Development at UC Berkeley, Director of Orchid Conservation Alliance and AOS judge) - Why are there so many orchids?

Steve Beckendorf started growing orchids in the early 1980s and quickly became fascinated by Odontoglossums and their close relatives because of their beauty and variety. They had a glamorous past as the most sought after plants in the orchid frenzy that gripped Europe in the 19th century. In addition, excellent hybrids were available from growers and hybridizers on the West Coast.

He soon realized that few of the species in this group were readily available and began collecting them for propagation and use in hybridizing. His attempt to find unusual or lost species has led to many trips to the cloud forests of Mexico & South America.

As a geneticist and developmental biologist at the University of California, Berkeley, Steve has worked on the mechanisms that define tissues and organs in early animal embryos. Because of this background, he has been interested in several of the scientific aspects of orchids, including molecular taxonomy and deceptive pollination strategies.

Steve is passionately involved in orchid conservation and is a director of the Orchid Conservation Alliance (OCA) and a member of the Conservation Committee of the American Orchid Society. He is also an accredited AOS judge.

Why are there so many Orchids?

Orchids are the largest family of flowering plants, with about 30,000 species. How did they become so successful? Recently, a combination of molecular analyses and orchid fossils has made it possible to estimate the rate of orchid evolution. The results show that orchid evolution has sped up at least three times since the most primitive orchids appeared. These accelerations produced not only the huge increase in the number of orchid species, but also the extravagant diversification of shape, color, and pollination mechanisms that fascinate us. I’ll describe some of the genetic and environmental changes that allowed these accelerations.

A Volunteer Chair Meeting is scheduled for 7:00 pm (in lieu of the Skill Session) prior to the General meeting in February.
The meeting will highlight the change of location and provide detailed information for the Chairs and their volunteers.

Upcoming Meetings

  • January 2017: Ron Midgett – Beyond Sc. Beaufort: A 25 Year Odyssey in Cattleya Breeding
  • February 2017: Steve Beckendorf – Why are there so many orchids? Opportunity table to be provided by Cindy Hill and Steve Beckendorf.

San Francisco Orchid Society Newsletters

San Francisco Orchid Society Membership (New Members and Renewals)

Membership Cost

(tax deductible)
$25/year (with Email Newsletter Option)
$45/year (with USPS Mail Newsletter Option)

How to Apply and Pay

You can apply and pay two ways:

Electronically via PayPal (PayPal account is not required)

For both new members and renewals, please complete our online member application, and then submit your payment with a debit or credit card via PayPal.

With a Check and Printed Application

Please print & complete our membership application and send it with a check (made payable to: SFOS) and for the appropriate amount to:

SFOS Memberships
P.O. Box 27145
San Francisco, CA 94127

SFOS Member Handbook

SFOS By-Laws

Members can volunteer to help the society prepare for the Annual Pacific Orchid Exposition, held at Lower Fort Mason. The creativity and enthusiasm of our members help make the show a success. Join now and see how you can get started.

San Francisco Orchid Society Library

Literature is available for SFOS members on orchid-related topics at each month’s meetings. For a list of what’s available, please download a copy of our book list below.

—SFOS Librarian Chuck Chan


Volunteers Needed!

For the 2017 Pacific Orchid & Garden Exposition

The San Francisco Orchid Society needs a lot of volunteers for a variety of positions. Help us out and have FUN at the same time. If you volunteer for a shift, you will get a badge that gives you unlimited entry to the show for all three days (Feb 24-26).

The Story of Orchids - Flowers that defy all expectations

SFOS Officers

Gary Turner, President
Mary Gerritsen, Vice President
Valerie Mountain, Secretary
Jack Ryder, Treasurer

For any SFOS related questions, contact

Support Businesses
That Support the SFOS

The San Francisco Orchid Society wishes to thank the following sponsors for their major, ongoing support. Their participation has helped make our show an international event. We encourage you to visit their site.

International Orchid Tours Available

Lady Slipper Species.. My fav..🌸🌸🌸 ...

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Since the turn of the millennium, the SFOS has donated over $50,000 in support of local horticultural education and botanical gardens, botanical research, and international conservation efforts.  Many of the organizations the SFOS support include Orchid Conservation Alliance, the Helen Crocker Russell Library of Horticulture, SF Botanical Garden, UC Berkeley Botanical Gardens, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo Horticulture Department, the Conservatory of Flowers in Golden Gate Park and many more.