Rob Griesbach

Phone: 301-596-9055 Email:

SpecialtiesOrchid Genetics, Orchid Biology, Orchid History
FormatOnline and in-person
Provides plants for sale?No


Dr. Rob Griesbach earned a Ph.D. in genetics from Michigan State University in 1980. The following year, he joined USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS) and retired in 2020. For his first 25 years, Rob conducted a broad-based research program in ornamental plant genetics. For the last 15 years, he served as the Deputy Assistant Administrator for Technology Transfer where he provided leadership for the management of the USDA-ARS’s intellectual property. He authored 151 scientific papers, as well as presented over 500 scientific seminars and popular talks. In 2006, the American Society for Horticultural Science elected Rob a Fellow for his research contributions to horticulture. In 2010, he received the American Horticulture Society’s H. Marc Cathey Award for his scientific contributions to gardening and horticulture. In 2012, he received the Secretary of Agriculture’s Honor Award for Excellence. Rob is a Past President of the American Orchid Society. He is currently an accredited AOS judge, chair of the AOS Research Committee, and member of the RHS Orchid Hybrid Registration Advisory Group.

Talks and Abstracts


Orchid Flower Color

This presentation will put together the many pieces of the complicated puzzle of what gives orchid flowers their color. Most people believe that different pigments are responsible for different colors. Pigments are only part of the story. Red roses and blue cornflowers have the same pigment. Specific shades of flower color can be explained by combination of pigments, co-pigments, certain minerals, and cell acidity.

Orchid Genetics

Hugo Freed was very astute observer during his career at Arthur Freed Orchids. In his book on orchid breeding, he states that “genes act in mysterious ways, particular those with which we are not well acquainted.” Genetics at first may seem too complicated to understand. However, it does not have to be a “mysterious” process. Genetics is quite easy to comprehend. This presentation will use orchid flower color to explain the “mysterious” ways in which genes act.

Orchid Biology

Orchid have evolved a unique combination of characteristics that are not found in other plants. The main difference between orchids other plants is the structural characteristics associated with their flowers and seed germination. This presentation will explore all the characteristics that make orchids unique among flowing plants.

Perfection: A Family Story

At the 1971 16th World Orchid Conference, Lewis Vaughn stated: “We had achieved perfection. It was difficult to tell one good cross of white phalaenopsis from another. We had form, we had substance, beautiful arrangement on the stem, and the judges were satisfied! Even the florists were satisfied! Where in the world would we go to improve phalaenopsis”? The history of the pedigree of white phalaenopsis has been told many times; however, the complete story involves more than pedigree history. It is a “family” story. This presentation will described the people and and their stories in creating the perfect orchid.