VC Historical Society desperately seeking ‘missing’ Valley Center orchid

They're pink, but they're in Thailand, so Robert Lerner and the Valley Center Historical Society must look elsewhere for the missing VC orchid.

The Valley Center Historical Society is hunting for an orchid that was developed more than two decades ago and was given the name “Valley Center Pink,” Valley Center historian Robert Lerner said Monday.  A preliminary search by local flower enthusiasts so far has not been fruitful, he said

The orchid was hybridized and grown in 1992 by Joseph P. Banando, a retired grocery supervisor who grew orchids at his Valley Center home.  Two years later, the Royal Historical Society in England, which maintains an international orchid database, recognized Banando’s orchid and registered it as “Valley Center Pink”.

Banando died in 2005 and the whereabouts of his files are unknown.Seeking help, the local Historical Society asked the Dos Valles Garden Club for assistance.  Its members broadened their search to include orchid societies elsewhere, but have been unable to find the missing orchid.

Jose Payan, who operates a wholesale orchid business on Valley Center Road, said he remembers Banando who often came into his orchid farm to chat about the flower.

Discovery of the orchid archive was made by historian Robert Lerner while recently moving files at the History Museum in preparation for the opening of a new wing.  He located relatives of Banando and hoped that they might have retained files or data on “Valley Center Pink”, but none has responded to requests for information.

Data at the History Museum showed that Banando frequently showed his orchids at the San Diego County Fair in Del Mar, and that many had won prizes.  In addition to “Valley Center Pink”, he also had  registered Dee-Litefull Pink and Epidendrum DeLoris, both apparently in honor of his wife Deloris.

For orchid enthusiasts, the Royal Historical Society identified the genus of “Valley Center Pink” as phalaenopsis, and its seed and pollen parentage as Ruby Nights and Marie’s Destiny. The Valley Center Historical Society also has a more detailed breakdown of the ancestry.

The goal of the local Historical Society is to find the orchid and, in partnership with other local organizations, declare it the Official Flower of Valley Center, Lerner said.

Valley Center Historical Society dedicates new wing on Dec. 6

Valley Center Historical Society dedicates new wing on Dec. 6

In other VCHS news:

The Valley Center History Museum has closed temporarily as the popular 12-year-old complex launches a major expansion project which will add 50 percent more space to its existing building.

Museum president Earl Brown said closure of the facility was necessary for safety reasons.  He pointed out, however, that the all-volunteer staff will still be available to respond to inquiries via telephone and e-mail.

The contractor, Pence Building Enterprises, estimates that construction may take up to 12 weeks to complete, with a re-opening anticipated in October.

Updates will be posted on the museum website, on Facebook, at its regular telephone number, and signage in front of the museum building.

Opened in 2003, the History Museum quickly outgrew its original building and has been forced to place many popular exhibits in storage, said Brown.

The new 700-foot wing will permit many of those displays to return to public view and will allow the addition of new exhibitions.

Since its opening, the museum has welcomed some 32,000 visitors from every state in the Union and from more than 40 countries.

To contact the museum during construction, e-mail staff at, visit, or telephone (760) 749-2993