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Judging Tools

Here are some tools we use while we judge orchids and some additional research resources we can utilize to help us better score and describe the flowers and plants!




Orchid Pro – The AOS database has flower photos, descriptions and measurements of of over 100,000 AOS awards granted since 1932, plus awards from several other international judging organizations.   We use this data to compare the plant on the judging table to all of the prior awards to that species or hybrid (and sometimes the hybrid’s parents), so that we can determine whether or not the current entry is an improvement.  Orchid Pro is now available on the AOS website to all AOS members.



This commercially available database includes award information from the AOS and numerous international organizations, although it is missing many of the photos.  It is particularly useful for resolving the imprecise nomenclature issues we frequently encounter, and it has many specialized search features that are very helpful.



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These subjects can be very complex and controversial.  The AOS maintains uniformity across the judging system by following the classification systems of highly respected international authorities.

World Checklist of Selected Plant Families: The AOS only grants awards to the species accepted by the WCSPF.

International Orchid Register: The AOS only grants awards to hybrids that have been registered with the Royal Horticultural Society.


Internet Orchid Species Photo Encyclopedia (Web) – IOSPE is a free, highly useful database of over 24,000 orchid species, including photos, culture information, habitat information, lists of synonyms and references.

Orchids Magazine (Web) – The AOS began publication of Orchids in 1932, and all issues from the first to the most recent are available to members and searchable online at  This is a treasure trove of 90 years of “all things orchid.”

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Description Template 


Botanical Award Description Worksheet:
This is a description template for cultural awards, Certificate of Botanical Recognition, and Certificate of Horticultural Merit



Description Template for Quality and Miscellaneous Awards:
This is a description template for quality awards and other miscellaneous awards

Diagrams of Shapes and Marking

These diagrams illustrate terminology used to describe flower segments as well as other plant parts.  They are examples of the diagrams available in the three Flip Card files under the Resources tab in Orchids Pro.  Orchids Pro can be accessed from the Members Account drop down box at

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AOS Judging Handbook

The Handbook on Judging and Exhibition is the "bible" of AOS orchid judging. All standards and procedures for evaluating and awarding orchids are described in detail. The handbook is in continual revision.

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