Ron Parsons

Phone: 650-476-9476 Email:

SpecialtiesWestern Australia, China, Ecuador, Philippines, Dendrobium, Stanhopeas and much more.
FormatOnline and in-person
Provides plants for sale?No


Ron Parsons has been growing orchids for nearly 49 years, and has been interested in the species for most of that time. He loves to photograph orchids and other flowers whenever he can, and does so as often as possible. Ron has more than 100,000 digital images, most of which are of orchids, and still retains a slide library that exceeds 100,000 botanical images. He has given more than 500 talks on various botanical topics, and has nearly 6500 published photos. Ron has co-authored four books on botanical subjects, all with Mary E. Gerritsen. The first two, published by Timber Press, are Masdevallias, Gems of the Orchid World and Calochortus, Mariposa Lilies and their Relatives. Their third book, a two-volume set, A Compendium of Miniature Orchid Species was published by Redfern Natural History Productions in January 2014. In 2019 The American Orchid Society Guide to Orchids and their Culture was released, and is on its third printing. They have recently completed a fifth book, a much-revised second edition of A Compendium of Miniature Orchids Species. It is now in four volumes with 3100 photos (1800 of those are new), including those of more than 500 species not in the first edition. The set was released in early October, 2021.

Talks and Abstracts


Springtime in Western Australia

The southwest corner of Australia has one of the world's few Mediterranean climates, the other being the Mediterranean region itself, most of coastal California, Chile, and the Southwest Cape of South Africa. A Mediterranean climate is one in which the winter is cool and wet while the summer is hot and dry, usually lacking any precipitation. Most of the orchids of this area are endemic, with just a handful also being found in southeast Australia, Unlike the orchids of the southeast, all are terrestrial here. This talk will feature some of the country's most incredible and bizarre flora.

Orchids of Sichuan, China

In June of 2012 I was fortunate enough to attend a tour in the province of Sichuan, China led by the late Holger Perner and his wife, Wenqing to see Cypripediums and other native orchids in habitat. We traveled through the northern reaches of the province, seeing some of the most spectacular scenery and wildflowers I have ever seen. We visited two World Heritage Sites of such natural beauty, and traveled through different ethnic regions (although most of the people in this area are Tibetan), and our tour of six visitors had a truly incredible adventure. I had such a fantastic time I joined the tour for a second visit in 2013!

Back to China

In 2013 I made my second trip to the province of Sichuan (known to most Americans as Szechwan) in China. In 2012 I went with my co-author, Mary Gerritsen on a tour led by the late slipper orchid specialist Holger Perner and his wife, Wenqing, to see various Cypripedium species (the temperate species of slipper orchids, found only in the northern hemisphere, and generally in colder climes) from June 09-23. I enjoyed that trip so immensely that I asked Holger if he could arrange the next tour in 2013 but visit at least a few new sites. He said he definitely could, so we signed up again for the 2013 tour, this time from June 17- July 01! We saw a number of rare and beautiful orchids as well as numerous other amazing flowers and stunning scenery. This talk will feature the diversity of Sichuan, China seen on this trip.

Botanizing in Southern Ecuador

Ron loves to travel, photograph orchids and other wildflowers in situ, visit botanical gardens and personal collections almost more than anything else. This talk is aboput his first trip to South America, an Ecuadorean orchid adventure with Ecuagenera, consisting of the guide Gilberto Merino, Mary Gerritsen, Laurent Minet (from Belgium), Peter Hottewitzsch (from Germany) and Ron. They traveled through quite a bit of southern Ecuador to such beautiful and orchid-rich areas as the Cordillera del Condor, Cajas National Park, Podocarpus National Park, etc where approximately 125 species of orchids were seen in bloom. This talk features the highlights of this wonderful trip.

Orchid Hunting on the Island of Rhodes

In the early spring of 2010, I traveled with my co-author Mary Gerritsen and three German friends throughout the island of Rhodes. Although Rhodes is a Greek island, you can clearly see Turkey at 11 miles away at the north end. We covered as much ground as we could, driving on as many roads to as many orchid localities as possible to locate these beautiful flowers. The main genera to be found are Ophrys, Orchis and Anacamptis, but we found several other species in different genera for a total of 30 species. Although it had been a dry winter, and we did not see huge numbers of many species, the season had sped up, revealing some typically later species that we would not have seen otherwise. This talk features the orchids seen, as well as a number of other wildflowers, and the spectacular scenery of this lovely Greek isle.

Orchids of Southeastern Australia

For five weeks of the austral spring of 2011, from early October to mid-early November, I traveled through southeastern Australia. My trip started on the island state of Tasmania (the north and northwest) where friends took me out to see and photograph orchids I would not have found on my own. From there I traveled to Victoria where I was taken to Grampians National Park in the west, the Anglesea Peninsula west of Melbourne, and Wilson’s Promontory to the southeast of Melbourne, where again many exciting orchids were found. Next stop was Canberra for a few days, then to areas both north and south of Sydney in New South Wales where many fantastic ground, lithophytic and epiphytic orchids were seen. My incredible trip ended back in Tasmania where several days were spent on beautiful Bruny Island. It's location rests southeast of Hobart, the capitol of Tasmania…an island off an island off an island!

Stanhopeas and their Relatives

This group of approximately 300 Neotropical species has some of the most amazing and wonderful flowers in the orchid family. The often-ephemeral flowers have fantastic shapes and colors, with sometimes powerful fragrances, that are used to attract their pollinators in sophisticated and unbelievable manners. The talk covers nearly all of the 20 or so genera, with some cultural info.

An Orchid Adventure in Colombia

In 2014 I was fortunate enough to travel to Medellin, Colombia to attend the most beautiful orchid show I’ve ever seen. The variety of orchids and other flowers as well as the venue were incredible. I also visited the famous orchid nursery “Colomborquideas” run by the Posada family as well as “Orquifollajes” owned by Francisco Villegas, getting to see and photograph many orchids new to me. The first wild place visited was a reserve owned by the Medellin Botanical Gardens, and the last days of my trip were spent at Tatamá National Park, a seven-hour drive south of Medellin, and a most fantastic place to see wild orchids! Colombia is such a wonderful country that I plan to return again and again.

Spring Orchids of Mallorca

In the spring of 2013, I traveled with my co-author Mary Gerritsen to the Balearic island of Mallorca, Spain to meet up with my German friends to see the beautiful orchids and other wildflowers there. They have been there many times, and knew many sites to visit! The native orchids were often plentiful, with many different species of Bee and Tongue orchids often forming large colonies. There were other beautiful flowers there, including the rarest of Peony species, the endemic Paeonia cambessedessii, and the scenery was reminiscent of a tropical island. It is an amazing destination in itself, but made even more spectacular by the flowers.

The Lure of Miniature Orchids

Small orchids have long held an appeal to many people, particularly for their delicate beauty and fascinating variety. These days miniature orchids are taking on a new desirability as collections downsize and electrical costs increase. New species continue to surface and that appeals to collectors as well. This talk focuses on a nice cross-section of attractive and popular species that can fit in any collection. In 2014 Ron and co-author Mary Gerritsen published a two-volume set of books called “A Compendium of Miniature Orchids Species”, with a four volume, highly revised second edition released in 2021. This presentation is meant to complement these releases.

An Orchid Adventure in the Philippines

Some years ago, I was asked by my Australian friend, Jim Cootes to meet him in the Philippines to go looking for native orchids. Jim has written a couple books on orchids of this country, so I thought it was a great idea. We traveled to the islands of Mindoro, Leyte, Samar, Cebu and Luzon, seeing wonderful sites and flowers, and traveled around with some of Jim’s knowledgeable local friends. It is an incredibly populated country, and it was hard to be too remote in the places we visited, but my talk presents the beautiful things I saw there.

The Genus Dendrobium

The Australasian genus Dendrobium is one of the largest genera in the most species-rich flowering plant family of the world. More than 1800 species have been described (with likely many more to be discovered), and they are found anywhere from the lowland tropics to cold, high elevations. They occur from Japan and China in the north, to Australia in the south, and from India in the west to some of the islands of the south Pacific in the east. They occur in a vast variety of habitats too but they tend to generally grow as epiphytes and lithophytes with comparatively few growing as terrestrials. My talk is a brief synopsis of this amazing genus that nearly every orchid enthusiast grows.

Madagascar, A Land of Many Contrasts

The vast island nation of Madagascar, is a land that should be visited sooner than later. It is home to many hundreds of native orchid species, most of which are as unique as the other flora, and the fauna of this fourth largest island in the world. Unfortunately, much of the land is environmentally devastated, but the wild areas are home to some of the most incredible experiences a person can have. I may not have had great initial impressions upon arrival and for the first several days, but as the trip progressed my feelings changed. I am filled with indelible and wonderful memories, and a longing to return.

Bulbophyllum, A Study in Diversity

One of the largest genera, if not the largest genus in the orchid family with nearly 2000 species, it is also one of the most diverse in many ways. Known for their often, not so appealing floral “fragrances”, strange and bizarre floral forms, and often fly-pollinated flowers that usually have hinged labellums, there is a range of shapes, colors and sizes that is unrivaled in the orchid family. This talk features some highlights of this incredible group of orchids!

The Genus Cymbidium

One of the largest genera, if not the largest genus in the orchid family with nearly 2000 species, it is also one of the most diverse in many ways. Known for their often, not so appealing floral “fragrances”, strange and bizarre floral forms, and often fly-pollinated flowers that usually have hinged labellums, there is a range of shapes, colors and sizes that is unrivaled in the orchid family. This talk features some highlights of this incredible group of orchids!

Crete: Isle of Orchids

I have made two trips to this magical place, the largest of the Greek islands, in search of the vast array of terrestrial orchids found there. The first trip there was also my very first to Europe, spurred by international friends who told me of the diversity and numbers of orchids that could be seen. Having a love of all flowers, I also wanted to see the endemic peony and various tulip species as well as the beautiful scenery and archaeological treasures…I was not disappointed!