March 2018 – Thomas Mirenda

Thomas MirendaThomas MirendaWe are happy to welcome back Thomas Mirenda of the Hawaii Tropical Botanic Garden.  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 "Herding Catts: A Beautiful Walk through a Difficult Phylogeny" a talk which overviews the most popular orchids, the cattleyas and their relatives. The cattleya alliance has recently undergone a very confusing and unpopular revision by taxonomists. Tom's talk will seek to clear up some of the controversies on this interesting class of orchids.

Tom's visit is being co-hosted by POS and the SDCOS. Accordingly, he will speak on "The Big Island Orchid Scene!" on Tuesday, March 6 to SDCOS in Balboa Park. POS members are welcome to attend this talk as well. The plant table will be supplied by one of our local orchid vendors.

In September of 2017, Tom accepted an exciting new position as the Director of Horticulture, Education and Outreach at the Hawaii Tropical Botanic Garden on the Big Island of Hawaii.  For the previous 17 years, Tom was 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 was 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 13 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.

Wed, 03/07/2018 - 6:30pm - 9:30pm