Guest Author - Susan Taylor
In December I told you about a new software program called OrchidWiz Encyclopedia, an orchid research software package. The first version was a real treat to review and version 2.0 adds much functionality as well as providing much more information on species orchids. This software is easy to use. It's not one of those things that you can't figure out -- everything is intuitive. The search criteria are set up in drop down menus with choices clearly defined. Most search pages that I tested had text searches with exact matches and partial text choices which are great when you're not sure of spelling.
The new lookup features for species is impressive. The number of species listed has increased from 8,871 to 26,902. You can now search by continent, region or even country. It is now be possible for a grower to search species in various sizes, growing conditions, etc., so that he or she can match their growing environment with what will grow well in their area. This should provide a great guide for us to increase in situ conservation of some of the rarer species which are not well known.
What I like the most is the ability to see the pictures of the genealogy of the flowers. It is an amazing lesson in genetics to take one parent and see all its progeny or to look back from one hybrid at its parents and grandparents. If you are interested in one specific genus of orchid hybrids, such as Cattleyas, or Phalaenopsis or Cymbidiums, this is the place to go. One choice is to see all the progeny of a specific orchid and it is wonderful information to use for a breeder. Of the approximately 125,000 hybrids listed, over 51,000 have at least one picture of the parent and 12,000 have both parents pictured.
Of course this latest version is updated with the latest awards from the American Orchid Society (AOS) and registrations of hybrids from the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS). Of interest to orchid judges and those hobbyists interested in showing their plants, the awards information on almost 50,000 AOS awards is included. Expanded information in this version details separately the number of flowers, buds and inflorescences to better allow the exhibitor to compare his plant with previously shown plants.