The Plant Detective
Broken, faded or simply lost labels are a nuisance to the collector. Here are some tips that I use to ID flowers of lost label plants. First, the best way to ID a flower is to match it while it is in bloom with another plant that flowering in the same conditions. Second, if comparing a picture, the lip coloration is the ultimate tell. Always photograph the flower in good light with a close up of the flower and a photo that shows the plant and bloom for size reference. It is also helpful to know the date, when it flowered. Next, show the picture to a veteran or professional orchid grower and see if perhaps they can ID it on the spot or suggest something close. Then take that info and plug it into a Google image search and compare the picture for yourself. Remember that slight color differences can occur, due to the exposure of the photograph or the conditions the plant flowered in. If the flowers are close, but not quite correct, then research the parents of the near miss sometimes it is a hybrid that is similar in makeup. If you have an orchid database (ie Wildcat, Orchidwiz, ect.) they can be helpful as well in looking up parents, crosses or even using their photo databases. Finally, preventive maintenance is key, attach labels securely with copper wire, write label with unfading ink or #2 pencil, and have the label positioned in the plant for easy reading so that it will not be bent or removed when someone tries to read it. My work here is done.
The Acme Plant Detective Service