Guest Author - Susan Taylor
Once you have gotten into orchids you will eventually want to know the parents of your hybrids. Many times it is important to verify the actual name of a hybrid. Sometimes you will purchase a hybrid with only the parents listed and it will become necessary to look up the registered name. Some nurseries discard the original tags from the grower when ordering orchids and hand write the names on their own tags. Often the correct name of the plant is compromised in the process. If you are ever to show your orchids, it is important to have the correct name.
If you have access to the World Wide Web the place to go is the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) site. They are the official registration authority for orchids around the world and have provided a handy look up system at The International Orchid Register. Read down to about the middle of the page where it has a subtitle of "Searching the International Orchid Register." There you will find two links to the search engine, Parentage name search and Grex name search. (A Grex is the name given to every orchid produced by a particular cross of two parents.)
Parentage Name Search
Choosing this link will take you to a page where you can input the names of the parents of your hybrid. This is what you will use if the tag you have has only the parents' names, but no registered name. Under "Genus" it is probably better just to leave it blank unless you are looking up a species. Under "Grex" either put in the full name of the parents, eliminating the part in single quotes and the awards, or just part of the name with a percentage sign if you are not sure how to spell it. (The percentage sign is called a wildcard and the search engine will look for anything that starts with the same letters you have put before the wildcard.) Sometimes it will be necessary to try reversing the order of the parents in order to get a registration.
Grex Name Search
If you have the grex name and want to find out when it was registered and what the parents were, this is where you will go. So let's say that you want to look up Oncidium Sharry Baby. This is an interesting one to use because it is sold as both "Shary Baby" and "Sharry Baby." In the "Grex" type in either "Sharry Baby:" or "Sharry". You will find that the cross was made in 1983. If you type in "Shary" instead, there will be no matching results, so the proper spelling is actually "Sharry Baby."
There are, of course problems, as with any search engine. If the name has an apostrophe in it, the search engine seems to have a recognition issue. You will need to type the full Genus name in the first parameter and then the beginning of the name without the apostrophe in the second. Then use the wildcard character (%). This will bring up a listing of all grexes that have the name included and you can choose the correct one. This is also a good idea with any name that has unusual punctuation such as an accent of any kind.