I've never heard of that species ... what does it look like?

Well, if it's a Dracula, I can tell you. If it's a Masdevallia, I can probably help. Beyond that, your fastest option is to search on-line for photographs. Here are some websites that can be pretty helpful (I'd like to hear your suggestions of sites I should add):

 

The Pleurothallid Alliance - Lynn O'Shaughnessy maintains this website for the Pleurothallid Alliance, and she catalogs photographs for many many Masdevallia, Dracula, Lepanthes, Pleurothallis, Restrepia, etc., species.

 

Internet Orchid Species Encyclopedia - A comprehensive site that also gives some cultural comments for a lot of species. The photographs are not always right (but there is continuous effort to improve upon questionable IDs), so double-check.

 

Flickr - This is a massive searchable database of photographs uploaded for public viewing, and there are lots of orchid photographs to be found. Again, not all of them are properly identified but you can write to the owner of the photograph and get information or suggest IDs. I strongly encourage you to submit your photos here as this site can become an important tool for the exchange of orchid information!

 

Ron Parson's orchid photographs -- Ron is a world renowned orchid photographer and has an encyclopedic knowledge of orchid species.  A Bay Area native, he has a long history of photographing in Bay Area collections and shows and thus has a large number of the species we sell depicted on his website.

 

Eric Hunt's orchid photographs – Eric spent many years in the Bay Area photographing orchids at shows, meetings, and in private collections.  He has since moved to Arkansas, where his photo subjects have changed by necessity.  Still, his website remains an important catalog of many orchid species.

 

 

Books:

Many of the photographs in the Colombian Orchid Species volumes were photographed in the collection of my supplier, so you can be confident that they are the plants you'd be receiving. I know this series is not likely to be found in your local library; I have relatively easy access to it at the Strybing Arboretum, so I can look something up for you if you really need to know. The same thing goes for the Icones Pleurothallidinum volumes.

 

A good book for Masdevallia photographs is Masdevallias: Gems of the Orchid World (Gerritsen and Parsons, Timber Press, 2005). It's available on Amazon.com and well worth the purchase. Buy it!