president's message


May 2020

Photo of Erin MaxickDear Members,

Dear members, we did it! For the first time since the Orchid Society of Southern California first met in 1940, thanks to the myriad of incredible technological advancements over the years, we held our first monthly meeting online! We had nearly as many members tune in as attend in person, and even ex-president member, Steve Gollis in Hawaii was able to join in! While there were a few issues with sound and streaming here and there, I think all that attended would agree that it was worthwhile! Thanks to Peter Lin for his terrific presentation on the genus Brassavola.

Did you take advantage of Peter’s 10% off special for OSSC members at, or the 15% off with free shipping that Andy’s Orchids gave us at Since we aren’t attending shows, purchasing from our vendors on-line is a wonderful way to show our support and let them know we care, plus adding something new and beautiful to our collections gives us something pleasant to focus our energies on.

Thanks to all who sent in fabulous photos of your plants in bloom! Our online show-and-tell via Facebook was a hit. OSSC members and non-members alike were able to appreciate all of your exceptional blooms! I just love seeing the variety in our collections from Anne’s amazing orchids grown under lights, to Linda’s plants always displayed on her dining room table, to Charles’ outdoor specimens, and so many more. Well done all! This month we focus on the stalwart of the orchid world, the great Cattleya! Carlos Lopez of Sunset Valley Orchids will speak to us for the first time with his presentation “The Four Seasons of Cattleya.” I can’t wait! Once again we will be meeting online, details to come via direct email. Check your inboxes. As we weather this truly difficult storm, I’m wishing you all wellness of heart, body and mind. All of my best to you and yours,

All the best,


erin's fun fact

is it a cattleya or is it a swainson?

When I think of the early orchid hunters, those sweaty and determined men risking life and limb, trekking and tromping through dangerous territories making monumental botanical discoveries, I think … surely the orchids they found are named after them, aren’t they? This may be true in many cases but let’s investigate.

Is William Cattley the brave soul that first spotted the lauded “corsage orchid” growing wild in the jungles of northern Brazil? He is not! What would become one of the world’s most beloved orchids, the cattleya, was actually first collected in 1817 by the English ornithologist, malacologist, conchologist, entomologist, and artist William Swainson. New vocabulary word, anyone? The story goes that Swainson shipped the plants (thought to be parasitic) to the Glasgow Botanic Gardens for identification. He requested that a few plants be later sent to British merchant and horticulturist William Cattley, who was able to bloom one a full year before the plants in Glasgow. An alternative tale is that the unknown plants were simply thrown in the shipping box for use as packing material for other more important and exotic plants beings sent overseas.

Only the two Williams know the real story! Who deserves the name? The plant was named Cattleya labiata in 1824. As a side note, after the initial discovery, it was another 70 years before the plants were found again due to Swainson not recording where exactly he had found the original plants and then disappearing into the wilds of New Zealand! Well, here we are in 2020 growing, adoring, and appreciating our gorgeous cattleyas. I don’t know about you, but I think Mr. Swainson should get some credit! From now on when my cattleyas are in bloom, I shall think to myself, my “swainsons” are looking quite lovely today! Cheers to you, William Swainson!

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