January 2017 – Thomas Mirenda

Thomas MirendaThomas MirendaWe are delighted to welcome Thomas Mirenda of the Smithsonian Institute, Washington, D.C., as our first speaker of 2017.  Tom is a highly sought after orchid specialist who is very knowledgeable on many facets of orchid biology as well as on numerous classes of orchids. Tom will be speaking to us on “The Mysteries of Orchid Pollination” focusing on the various adaptations that orchids have developed as pollination strategies, including food, brood site, pollen, and mating deceptions, pseudo-copulation, co-evolution with pollinators, and other methods of species isolation. 

For the last 16 years, Tom has been the Orchid Collection Specialist at the Smithsonian Institution, caring for and curating an extremely diverse collection of orchid species and hybrids from all over the world. He has been active in developing and producing huge educational exhibits using the collection plants and visited by hundreds of thousands of visitors.

Tom was trained originally as a Marine Biologist, but made the switch to plants and orchids in his late 20s while living in Hawaii. Since then he has worked with orchids at the NY Botanical Garden, Brooklyn Botanic Garden and an extensive private collection at Greentree Estate in Long Island. Tom was also the floor manager at the New York International Orchid Show for many years during this period. For the last 11 years, Tom has contributed two columns each month for ORCHIDS magazine, the bulletin of the American Orchid Society, and he is developing a new book based on those writings. 

Tom travels frequently around the US and internationally, making presentations to diverse audiences, from scientists to the general public, about orchid ecology, pollination biology, and strategies for orchid conservation. He is passionate about seeking collaboration between the worlds of Botanic Gardens, the hobbyist community, commercial growers and scientists to work together toward the goal of protecting orchids and their habitats. Currently working on a project to coordinate and centralize North American orchid conservation efforts, Tom hopes to extend the influence to other parts of the world where orchids are imperiled.

Tom’s visit is being co-hosted by POS and the SDCOS. Accordingly, he will speak on “Phalaenopsis Species, Ecology Informs Culture!” on Tuesday, January 3 to SDCOS in Balboa Park. POS members are welcome to attend this talk as well. 

Wed, 01/04/2017 - 6:30pm - 9:30pm