The Book of Orchids: A Life-Size Guide to Six Hundred Species from Around the World.
By Professor Mark Chase, Dr Maarten Christenhusz, and Tom Mirenda
Published by The Ivy Press
Comprised of six hundred and fifty-six pages and weighing in at 2.3kg, The Book of Orchids is a substantial book that’s jam packed full of interesting information about orchids!
The book’s introduction is engaging and informative, piquing the reader’s interest in an explanatory narrative, which defines what actually makes a plant an orchid and highlights the recognisable features of an orchid flower. The authors summarise the evolution of orchids, discussing the orchid’s countenance, focusing on a number of adapted forms of mimicry that are used by particular orchid species to achieve successful pollination. The symbiotic relationships and associations with fungi that orchids rely on, both to germinate their seeds and to receive nutrients before the plants are able to photosynthesise and produce nutrients for themselves, are explained next, followed by a glimpse of the real and colossal threats that this beguiling plant family are currently facing from over collection and deforestation.
The orchid plant family are the largest plant family in the world, so this book’s authors, Professor Mark Chase, (Mark is the Director of the Jodrell Laboratory at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew), Dutch Botanist Dr Maarten Christenhusz, (Maarten has worked for the Finnish Museum of Natural History in Helsinki, the Natural History Museum in London, and also at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew), and Tom Mirenda, (Tom is the Orchid Collection Specialist at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington), have naturally condensed the number of orchids that feature in this book, focusing on a mere six hundred orchid species, selecting a fabulous array of plants, which cover all of the orchid subfamilies, their tribes and subtribes, to give a real insight into the extraordinary, bizarre, and fascinating world of the orchid family.
There are a great selection of orchids inside The Book of Orchids. You’ll find information on orchids of all sizes, from miniature to mammoth. Orchids from various environments are featured. The authors depict orchids with differing growth habits, from epiphytic orchids, which live on trees and shrubs, lithophytic orchids, which grow on rocks, to terrestrial orchids, which grow on the ground. The Book of Orchids demonstrates the amazing diversity of plants within the orchid genus.
The information provided for each orchid is comprehensive, with each plant profiled one to a page, to include the particular orchid’s subfamily, tribe and subtribe, alongside information of the orchid’s native range, its habitat, information on the orchid’s flowering time and conservation status.
The main text for each orchid profiled, forms a further explanatory narrative, which is informative and engaging, anecdotal at times, often providing further information on the particular orchid’s habitat and pollinator, the scent of the orchid’s flowers, and other distinguishing features that the particular plant presents. One of the aspects I love about The Book of Orchids is that the information is real, the authors have united to convey fascinating information about real orchids, and how they grow in their natural environment in the wild.
The particular size of an orchid plant, together with the measurements of its flower, are given in both metric and imperial for each orchid species featured in The Book of Orchids. Alongside this written information, The Book of Orchids features beautiful photographs, which have been especially printed to display the orchid’s flower as life-size, so readers can gain a genuine appreciation of each orchid’s real and actual size. This clear, accurate representation of each orchid species offers a great advantage for readers, allowing an easier understanding and a greater connection to each orchid species shown.
The Book of Orchids is written in an easy to follow, uncomplicated language, with botanical terms explained in a useful glossary at the back of the book. Orchid buffs will be grateful for the book’s concentration solely on orchid species rather than hybrids. Readers will, I am sure, find the information provided to be intriguing and enchanting, each orchid species is presented in a clear and attractive manner. The Book of Orchids will make a useful reference book for all orchid enthusiasts, it’s a book for everyone!
The Book of Orchids is an ambitious book, which is beautifully presented; it must have been a true labour of love for its authors. I hope that this delightful book, The Book of Orchids will inspire its readers to go on to discover and learn more about orchids. I also hope that this book will evoke a genuine respect of orchids, so that the human race will begin to comprehend the real and immediate need for increased funding for orchid conservation and to start to understand, and wherever possible correct, the destruction that humans have caused to this alluring and enchanting plant family by over collection, human expansion, logging, and deforestation.
The Book of Orchids would make a super gift for both novice and experienced orchid enthusiasts. This is a wonderful book to read, whether you’ve only a minute to spare and want to quickly find information on a particular orchid, or if you’re lucky enough to have the time to while away the evening by the fire with a good book to relax and discover more about orchids. The Book of Orchids will surely fuel your interest in this extraordinarily fascinating and diverse plant family.
To find out more about The Book of Orchids: A Life-Size Guide to Six Hundred Species from Around the World by Professor Mark Chase, Dr Maarten Christenhusz, and Tom Mirenda, please click here.
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