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.
"In this captivating overview, she covers the biology of both terrestrial and epiphytic (tree-dwelling) orchids and explains how epiphytes are adapted to living in trees, even using a special form of photosynthesis. . . . The heart of the work is its collection of stunning full-color drawings, many from the archives of the Natural History Museum in London, including illustrations depicting beautiful flowering orchid plants and scientific illustrations showing the anatomy of the plants. . . . Orchid fanciers will relish the gorgeous color plates; readers new to orchids will appreciate the information on orchid biology, culture, and history."
"Meticulously researched—as one would expect from Knapp, a senior research botanist at the Natural History Museum—this book is also lavishly brought to life with an abundance of artwork by a roll call of great botanical illustrators. . . . Full of captivating surprises and interesting information about this immense, diverse family of flowering plants."
"Stories behind Dracula orchids, rattlesnake plantains, fairy orchids, and other fantastical forms come together in this beautiful tome. . . . Striking a balance between informatively captioned illustrations and essays, this is as much a visual treat as it is an academic one."
"Extraordinary Orchids delves into the weird and wonderful lives of this most diverse and exotic of plant families. . . . Stunning."
“Orchid lovers, old and new, are sure to enjoy this stunning celebration of the world’s largest flowering plant family—their bizarre partnerships, their amazing beauty, their pollinators, their diverse habitats, and their wonderful coloration and shapes.”
Meg Lowman, executive director, TREE Foundation, and author of "Life in the Treetops" and "It’s a Jungle Up There"
“Knapp is a terrific scientist and an excellent communicator of science to broad audiences. This book pairs her entertaining prose with the all-time greats of botanical illustration. Readers will also be delighted by the orchids themselves and their astonishing biology.”
Sir Peter Crane, president, Oak Spring Garden Foundation
“An internationally acclaimed botanist and taxonomy expert, Knapp presents the legend and the lore, the data and the details . . . highlighted by exceptional, never-before-published treasures from the museum’s extensive archives.”
Booklist, on Knapp's "Plant Discoveries"
“Scientific, historic, and cultural perspectives on plants that have been gathered from around the globe.”
Science, on Knapp's "Plant Discoveries"
Table of Contents
Life in the air
Roots of love