One in every seven flowering plants on earth is an orchid. Yet orchids retain an air of exotic mystery—and they remain remarkably misunderstood and underappreciated. The orchid family contains an astonishing array of colors, forms, and smells that captivate growers from all walks of life across the globe. Though undeniably elegant, the popular moth orchid—a grocery store standard—is a bland stand-in when compared with its thousands of more complex and fascinating brethren, such as the Demon Queller, which grows in dark forests where its lovely blooms are believed to chase evil forces away. There is the Fetid Sun-God, an orchid that lures female flies to lay their eggs on its flowers by emitting a scent of rancid cheese. Or the rare, delicate Lizard Orchid, which mimics the appearance of lizards but smells distinctly of goat.
The Book of Orchids revels in the diversity and oddity of these beguiling plants. Six hundred of the world’s most intriguing orchids are displayed, along with life-size photographs that capture botanical detail, as well as information about distribution, peak flowering period, and each species’ unique attributes, both natural and cultural. With over 28,000 known species—and more being discovered each year—the orchid family is arguably the largest and most geographically widespread of the flowering plant families. Including the most up-to-date science and accessibly written by botanists Mark Chase, Maarten Christenhusz, and Tom Mirenda, each entry in The Book of Orchids will entice researchers and orchid enthusiasts alike.
With stunning full-color images, The Book of Orchids is sure to become the go-to reference for these complex, alluring, and extraordinarily adaptable plants.
Darwin's Orchids: Then and Now
Edited by Retha Edens-Meier and Peter Bernhardt University of Chicago Press, 2014 Library of Congress QK495.O64D292 2014 | Dewey Decimal 584.4
For biologists, 2009 was an epochal year: the bicentennial of Charles Darwin’s birth and the 150th anniversary of the publication of a book now known simply as The Origin of Species. But for many botanists, Darwin’s true legacy starts with the 1862 publication of another volume: On the Various Contrivances by Which British and Foreign Orchids Are Fertilised by Insects and on the Good Effects of Intercrossing, or Fertilisation of Orchids. This slim but detailed book with the improbably long title was the first in a series of plant studies by Darwin that continues to serve as a global exemplar in the field of evolutionary botany. In Darwin’s Orchids, an international group of orchid biologists unites to celebrate and explore the continuum that stretches from Darwin’s groundbreaking orchid research to that of today.
Mirroring the structure of Fertilisation of Orchids, Darwin’s Orchids investigates flowers from Darwin’s home in England, through the southern hemisphere, and on to North America and China as it seeks to address a set of questions first put forward by Darwin himself: What pollinates this particular type of orchid? How does its pollination mechanism work? Will an orchid self-pollinate or is an insect or other animal vector required? And how has this orchid’s lineage changed over time? Diverse in their colors, forms, aromas, and pollination schemes, orchids have long been considered ideal models for the study of plant evolution and conservation. Looking to the past, present, and future of botany, Darwin’s Orchids will be a vital addition to this tradition.
Confucius called them the “king of fragrant plants,” and John Ruskin condemned them as “prurient apparitions.” Across the centuries, orchids have captivated us with their elaborate exoticism, their powerful perfumes, and their sublime seductiveness.
But the disquieting beauty of orchids is an unplanned marvel of evolution, and the story of orchids is as captivating as any novel. As acclaimed writer Michael Pollan and National Geographic photographer Christian Ziegler spin tales of orchid conquest in Deceptive Beauties: The World of Wild Orchids, we learn how these flowers can survive and thrive in the harshest of environments, from tropical cloud forests to the Arctic, from semi-deserts to rocky mountainsides; how their shapes, colors, and scents are, as Darwin put it, “beautiful contrivances” meant to dupe pollinating male insects in the strangest ways. What other flowers, after all, can mimic the pheromones and even appearance of female insects, so much so that some male bees prefer sex with the orchids over sex with their own kind?
And insects aren’t the only ones to fall for the orchids’ charms. Since the “orchidelirium” of the Victorian era, humans have braved the wilds to search them out and devoted copious amounts of time and money propagating and hybridizing, nurturing and simply gazing at them. This astonishing book features over 150 unprecedented color photographs taken by Christian Ziegler himself as he trekked through wilderness on five continents to capture the diversity and magnificence of orchids in their natural habitats. His intimate and astonishing images allow us to appreciate up close nature’s most intoxicating and deceptive beauties.
Sandra Knapp University of Chicago Press, 2021 Library of Congress QK495.O64K58 2021 | Dewey Decimal 584.72
Perching on tropical trees, partnering with fungi to reproduce, or deceiving birds and amorous insects to promote pollination, orchids fascinate. In the exquisitely illustrated Extraordinary Orchids, award-winning botanist and writer Sandra Knapp tells the stories behind some of the bizarre lifestyles and interactions that scientists have uncovered among many species of the orchid family.
Orchids deserve such a visual celebration: parts of the orchid flower have shapes unlike any other flowering plant, and the sheer number of species means they have a seemingly endless ability to create ever more fantastical forms. In fact, many orchid common names refer to the shape-shifting forms of their flowers—the “man-orchids” or “monkey-orchids” are so called because of their resemblance to the primate form. Orchids lend themselves to depiction, and botanical artworks of them abound. Who could resist painting or drawing such odd shapes?
Illustrated with stunning artwork, much from the archives of the Natural History Museum in London and never before published, Extraordinary Orchids includes depictions from celebrated botanical artists such as Ferdinand and Franz Bauer, Arthur Harry Church, and Sydney Parkinson, revealing the weird and wonderful lives of this most diverse of plant families.
Field Guide to the Orchids of Europe and the Mediterranean is a comprehensive manual that pairs thousands of color photographs with expert guidance, making it easy for readers to identify the varied orchid species of this region. The authors bring decades of field and research experience to this project and combine their first-hand knowledge with the latest scientific research, making this the most thorough and up-to-date book available.
The book covers orchids from Europe and the Mediterranean, as well as areas in Turkey and the immediate near east of North Africa and Macaronesia. It includes thirty genera and their species including Ophrys, Cypripedium, Orchis, Dactylorhiza, Epipactis, and Serapias, as well as seventy natural hybrids. The authors emphasize the natural variability that exists in many wild species and work to eliminate the confusion that can arise due to the morphological variation. Each species includes multiple images to illustrate this diversity as well as notes on distinguishing features and distribution maps. Common names and important synonyms accompany each species alongside notes on habitat, flowering times, and distinguishing features.
A continuation of “The Illustrated Flora of Illinois” series, this volume features Illinois flowering plants. This series is designed to provide a working reference for the identification and classification of all the plant forms found in the state. This series is the first of its kind, as no other study of this sort has been undertaken in any other state, and as such, is an unparalleled contribution to its field.
In his introduction to this volume, Mr. Mohlenbrock discusses some of the terms and procedures used in the identification and classification of the plants. He outlines the life histories and morphologies of some of the representative monocots, and also illustrates some of their habits and frequencies in Illinois. Since these volumes are meant to be used by the amateur as well as the professional botanist, the methods and terms used in the text are explained. The directions for the use of the various identification keys are given so that even the novice plant lover will be able to identify the species encountered. For the uninitiated, a glossary is provided which gives definitions for all terms that might be unfamiliar.
All necessary aids to identification are included in the text itself. The identification keys make it initially possible to classify the plants according to order, family, genus and finally, species and the identifying characteristics of each descending class are given in detail. The morphology of each species is outlined, along with data on frequency of occurrence, related soil and climate conditions and history of past collections, and history of past collections. An illustration showing the more important features of the species in detail is included with the description, as well as a map indicating its geographical locations in Illinois.
This book will be invaluable to students, teachers and professionals; particularly those who are interested in observing the plants in their natural habitat. Those who use it will find it possible to obtain a broad view of changing plant forms as they relate to soil and climate variations throughout the state. And it will provide a delightful diversion for all who enjoy viewing beautiful forms in nature. A walk through the forest will become an opportunity for discovery and appreciation.
Native orchids are increasingly threatened by pressure from population growth and development but, nonetheless, still present a welcome surprise to observant hikers in every state and province. Compiled and illustrated by long-time orchid specialist Paul Martin Brown, these pocket guides to grass-pinks and their companions form part of a series that will cover all the wild orchids of the continental United States and Canada.
Brown provides general distributional information, time of flowering, and habitat requirements for each species as well as a complete list of hybrids and the many different growth and color forms that can make identifying orchids so intriguing. For the grass-pinks and companions he includes information on 16 species, 2 additional varieties, and 7 hybrids.
Grass-pinks, with their showy pink to white flowers, are some of the most conspicuous wild orchids encountered in the prairies, bogs, and open wetlands of eastern North America. Most of these species are easy to identify based upon their general appearance, range, and time of flowering. Answering three simple questions—when, where, and how does it grow?—and comparing the living plant with the striking photos in the backpack-friendly laminated guide should enable both professional and amateur naturalists to achieve the satisfaction of identifying a specific orchid.
Orchid: A Cultural History
Jim Endersby University of Chicago Press, 2016 Library of Congress SB409.48.E64 2016 | Dewey Decimal 635.9344
At once delicate, exotic, and elegant, orchids are beloved for their singular, instantly recognizable beauty. Found in nearly every climate, the many species of orchid have carried symbolic weight in countless cultures over time. The ancient Greeks associated them with fertility and thought that parents who ingested orchid root tubers could control the sex of their child. During the Victorian era, orchids became deeply associated with romance and seduction. And in twentieth-century hard-boiled detective stories, they transformed into symbols of decadence, secrecy, and cunning. What is it about the orchid that has enthralled the imagination for so many centuries? And why do they still provoke so much wonder?
Following the stories of orchids throughout history, Jim Endersby divides our attraction to them into four key themes: science, empire, sex, and death. When it comes to empire, for instance, orchids are a prime example of the exotic riches sought by Europeans as they shaped their plans for colonization. He also reveals how Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution became intimately entangled with the story of the orchid as he investigated their methods of cross-pollination. As he shows, orchids—perhaps because of their extraordinarily diverse colors, shapes, and sizes—have also bloomed repeatedly in films, novels, plays, and poems, from Shakespeare to science fiction, from thrillers to elaborate modernist novels.
Featuring many gorgeous illustrations from the collection of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Orchid: A Cultural History tells, for the first time, the extraordinary story of orchids and our prolific interest in them. It is an enchanting tale not only for gardeners and plant collectors, but anyone curious about the flower’s obsessive hold on the imagination in history, cinema, literature, and more.
10-PACK IN A POP DISPLAYFrom 1843, when the first collections were made, until 1987, when an amateur botanist discovered the only known Iowa site for spring ladies tresses, thirty-two species of orchids have been recorded in Iowa. The state’s wild orchids range in size from the three-inch-tall delicately blossomed nodding pogonia of the eastern woodlands to the three-foot-tall floral spike of the western prairie fringed orchid and in color from whites and pale pastels to buttery yellows and passionate pinks. Flower shapes run the gamut, too, from the tight-lipped parsimony of the fall coral-root to the cheerful roundness of the yellow lady’s-slipper.Along with superb color photographs of all thirty-two species, this latest addition to Iowa’s series of laminated guides includes common and scientific names, habitat (prairie, woodland, wetland) and distribution, height, approximate time of blooming, status, and potential for hybridization. Bill Witt devotes a separate panel to species missing and presumed extirpated; photos of orchids from nearby states illustrate these lost species. Because orchids have highly specific requirements for germination, growth, and reproduction, the conversion of natural lands for agricultural development has resulted in such loss of habitat that all but a handful of orchid species are now considered threatened or endangered; two orchid species are now known to live in just one site each; and three species have likely been wiped out. Orchids in Your Pocket is a welcome reminder of the beauty and fragility of these native species and their prairie, woodland, and wetland homes.
Native orchids are increasingly threatened by pressure from population growth and development but, nonetheless, still present a welcome surprise to observant hikers in every state and province. Compiled and illustrated by long-time orchid specialist Paul Martin Brown, these pocket guides to the twayblades and adder’s-mouths form part of a series that will cover all the wild orchids of the continental United States and Canada.
Brown provides general distributional information, time of flowering, and habitat requirements for each species as well as a complete list of hybrids and the many different growth and color forms that can make identifying orchids so intriguing. For the twayblades and adder’s-mouths he includes information on 21 species, 1 additional variety, and 2 hybrids.
Most twayblades and adder’s-mouths are relatively small plants with tiny green flowers, but a few have richly colored blooms or particularly interesting habits that attract the native orchid enthusiast. Most of these species are easy to identify based upon their general appearance, range, and time of flowering. Answering three simple questions—when, where, and how does it grow?—and comparing the living plant with the striking photos in the backpack-friendly laminated guide should enable both professional and amateur naturalists to achieve the satisfaction of identifying a specific orchid.
In this book, Peter Bernhardt takes us on a grand tour of the botanical realm, weaving engaging descriptions of the lovely shapes and intriguing habits of flowering plants with considerations of broader questions, such as why there are only six basic shapes of flowers and why the orchid family is so numerous and so bizarre. Everyone from amateur naturalists and gardeners to plant scientists will find Wily Violets and Underground Orchids a lively guide to botanical lore.