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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.

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?SFOS-Orchid-Feb-2017-3

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 lea
st 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 SFOS Meetings

  • February 2017: Steve Beckendorf – Why are there so many orchids? Opportunity table to be provided by Cindy Hill and Steve Beckendorf.

Current Newsletter

February 2017 SFOS Newsletter (PDF)