High octane groups.
Since completion of both a warm and a cold greenhouse, I've immersed myself more than before in species. That is especially true for Bulbos and Dendrobiums on the warm side and the Pleurothallis alliance (cloud forest plants) on the cold side.
Over the last year I have joined 3 species groups:
The Southern California Species Society meets in my area, that one is a no-brainer.
In San Diego there is only one large orchid society with up to 700 - 800 members. They have a sub-group which only does species study and meets seperately every month. About 30 odd members attend, the meeting is Saturday morning. Since I have 4 kids living in San Diego and I always look for a reason to go down there, attending their meeting Sat morning and then hooking up with the kids for a BBQ or a beach brunch seemed a natural.
Then there is Northern California. I have a son and 2 grand-children in Redding and schlep up there at least once a month. The trip takes me through Sacramento. With a 2 hour detour, I was able to join the Pleurothallis Alliance which met this Saturday noon in Palo Alto and then continue on to Redding. A little far to go to a meeting (6 hour drive) but since I'm going there anyway to visit family, now it becomes a natural.
I am impressed with the depth of knowledge displayed by some of the people I meet at these 3 meetings. At our regular society we have 150 members, 80 or so active. A few of us, with hyper inflated egos, think we know a little more than the rest. That pales compared to the intense encyclopedic grasp of orchid taxonomy, name changes and other rare and obscure facts displayed by some of the members of these 3 species groups. To hear a Ron Parson discuss obscure name changes with Dr Stahl of Masd hybridizing fame is mind boggling. I sat there in all of my 70 year old glory and felt like a beginner.
Steven Hawkins once said that only about 20 people on earth truly understand e = mc2. Another 10,000 or so have a good grasp of the subject but do not truly grasp all the nuances. The rest of us think we know about it but that's as far as it goes. I guess with orchids it's the same, we seldom see the workings of the top echelons of the orchid universe. They come and give us talks at our society meetings but that is not the same as being in a room with some of the heavy weights of the orchid world and listening to their discussion.
A humbling but very interesting experience.