Sonoma County Orchid Society

Our purpose is to foster the growth and preservation of native and hybrid orchids in Sonoma County and around the world.

The Society is open to hobbyists and professionals, novice to expert, all are welcome. We are here to learn, share and have fun!

We meet on the second Tuesday of each month at the Veterans Memorial Building, 1351 Maple Avenue, Santa Rosa.

Doors open at 6:30pm with plant sales and skill sessions (if any) starting at 6:45. The meeting ends between 9:00 and 9:30pm.

Members may attend all meetings and guests are always welcome.

Upcoming Meetings & Events:

February 14th General Meeting:

“Darwin’s Sexy Orchids: First Case Study On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection

Join us for Harvey Brenneise’s Valentine to English naturalist and geologist, Charles Robert Darwin (1809 – 1882).  Most people do not know that Darwin’s first book published after Origin of Species was on one of his favorite topics–orchids as exemplars of his ideas about adaptation and the co-evolutionary relationship of plants with their pollinators in what we now know as the general theory of evolution.


The book itself, published in England in 1862 during the American Civil War, has a typically Victorian elaborate title: On the various contrivances by which British and foreign orchids are fertilised by insects, and on the good effects of intercrossing, influenced botanists, and revived interest in the neglected idea that insects played a part in pollinating flowers. Although the general public showed less interest and sales of the book were low, it established Darwin as a leading botanist. Orchids was the first in a series of books on his innovative investigations into plants.

This presentation includes discussion of the voyage of H.M.S. Beagle and the orchids Darwin found during that 5-year voyage as well as Darwin’s lifelong interest in orchids and his publications about them, including the (in)famous Angraecum sequipedale and its predicted insect pollinator.

About Harvey

Harvey Brenneise has grown orchids for most of his life, starting with a wonderful clone of Cattleya trianae given to him by an experienced local “orchid lady.” His dad then traded a playhouse for a small greenhouse for Harvey to use as a boy in what is now called Silicon Valley.

He is a retired professional librarian, and has worked in various academic and public libraries, including Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden and Seattle Public Library. Most recently was Associate Dean for Research Services at the University of Southern Mississippi.

Harvey has grown orchids in greenhouses (Michigan and California), under lights–including sodium vapor, fluorescent and LED (Michigan and Mississippi) and windowsill (Nebraska and Washington). He has received 6 AMs and 2 HCCs (mostly on slipper orchids), and is past chair of the American Orchid Society library committee. He has grown a wide variety of orchid genera. He co-authored an article with Rob Halgren on “growing orchids in mud” for Orchids magazine. Harvey has been a member of a number of orchid societies, including the AOS, Mid-America Orchid Congress, and the Michiana, Dunes-Kalamazoo, Greater Lansing, Riverside-San Bernardino, Gulf Coast, and Northwest orchid societies.

February’s Opportunity Table

The plant table will be provided by Dale Martin of Austin Creek Orchids. The selection will include some choice Angraecums. For just a few dollars you have chance to acquire some special plants for your collections.

January Skill Session

Preparing your plants for the Spring Show-  Please join award winning growerJudy Carney at 6:45  for tips and techniques on how to prepare and groom your plants to show. 

Upcoming Presentations you do want to miss:

March 14th: Ron Parsons – “An Orchid Adventure in Colombia”

April 10th: Alan Koch