Australian Orchid Foundation

Award of Honour for 2016 granted to:

Philip John Spence


In your lifetime involvement with orchids you have gained an international reputation as an outstanding grower and hybridiser of orchids. Your reputation is well documented and recognised by the many publications in local and international journals, and by your participation in specialist orchid conferences. 

Your early interest in in vitro propagation of orchids, from both seed and tissue culture, has provided a sound basis for commercial operations in both pot plant and cut flower orchid production.  This has been an exemplar to others. 

You have championed the enormous commercial potential of the poorly understood orchid flora of New Guinea, and have provided practical cultural insights into the ecology of this little known, but valuable group of plants. 

In 1997 you were appointed Director of the Research Centre of the National Capital Botanic Gardens, PNG. This was a dynamic period with advances in orchid research, expeditions to collect and catalogue new and poorly known species, and a hybridizing program. A library, laboratory and herbarium were also established. The Gardens were landscaped and soon became an attraction to tourists and locals alike. 

You have taken a leading role in introducing PNG orchid species and hybrids to Australian and international growers, while respecting conservation in this region.

 Over the years you have made a most valuable contribution to international orchid science.  You have actively assisted many researchers in the field, through your personal correspondence and in your many published papers in leading international journals.  You were invited to become an Honorary Research Associate of the Herbarium of Sydney Botanic Gardens. You have been a leader in the production of new orchid hybrids, especially among Dendrobium spp. sens. lat.