Even though S. Robert Weltz is no longer with us today, he is still receiving awards on his prestigious orchid collection that his family donated after his passing in March 2010. The most recent awards came from the American Orchid Society (AOS) at the 10th Annual Orchid Digest Speaker’s Day on July 7, 2012. The AOS is one of the most widely recognized societies, with a rich history and influence among orchid growers in the United States and around the world, promoting education, conservation, and research. Plants including Anguloa cliftonii, Paphiopedilum Lady Isabel, Paphiopedilum Gloria Naugle, and Paphiopedilum Kemp Tower all garnered an Award Merit, the second highest award a plant can receive from AOS. The Paphiopedilums were pulled from the Weltz collection, whereas the Anguloa came from Dylan Hannon, curator of the conservatory collections at The Huntington.
The American Orchid Society gives out three major awards. The third highest award is the Highly Commended Certificate, for a plant that receives a score ranging from 75 to 79 points on a 100-point scale. Second highest is an Award Merit, for a score between 80 and 89. The highest award is a First Class Certificate, for the rare score of 90 and above. Judges assess the form, size, texture, and color of the flower while also considering substance, stems, and floriferousness of the plant itself.
The AOS has many judging locations across America, where orchid hobbyists and enthusiasts can bring in their plants for scoring. The Huntington just happens to be one of those locations. The society was formed in the 1920s and has grown in number over the years. It also publishes a monthly magazine. It does its best to increase the knowledge and appreciation of orchids throughout the world by funding scholarships. It is one of the leading organizations on maintaining standards and expectations for judging criteria.
The AOS makes its home at the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden in Florida, a great partnership created between a botanic garden and a society that will further our advancement and understanding of plants.
Brandon Tam is The Huntington’s orchid specialist.