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Orchids of Tropical America: An Introduction and Guide

Field / Identification GuideIdentification Key

By: Joe E Meisel(Author), Ronald S Kaufmann(Author), Franco Pupulin(Author), Phillip J Cribb(Foreword By)

260 pages, 488 colour photos, 38 b/w line drawings, 1 map, 1 table

Cornell University Press

Paperback | Nov 2014 | #205898 | ISBN-13: 9780801477683
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NHBS Price: £19.95 $27/€22 approx
Hardback | Nov 2014 | #214486 | ISBN-13: 9780801453359
Temporarily out of stock: order now to get this when available Details
NHBS Price: £46.50 $63/€52 approx

About this book

Orchids of Tropical America is an entertaining, informative, and splendidly illustrated introduction to the orchid family for enthusiasts and newcomers seeking to learn about more than 120 widespread orchid genera. Joe E. Meisel, Ronald S. Kaufmann, and Franco Pupulin bring alive the riot of colors, extraordinary shapes, and varied biology and ecology of the principal orchid genera ranging from Mexico and the Caribbean to Bolivia and Brazil. Orchids, likely the most diverse family of plants on earth, reach their peak diversity in the tropical countries of the Western Hemisphere, including, for example, more than 2500 species in Brazil and 4000 in Ecuador. Orchids of Tropical America also highlights reserves in the American tropics where travelers can enjoy orchids in the wild.

Whether you journey abroad to see these unique plants, raise them in your home, or admire them from afar, Orchids of Tropical America offers fascinating insights into the diversity and natural history of orchids. Beyond the plant and flower descriptions, Orchids of Tropical America is packed with informative stories about the ecology and history of each genus. Pollination ecology is given in detail, with an emphasis on how floral features distinctive to the genus are linked to interaction with pollinators. This book also features information on medicinal and commercial uses, notes on the discoverers, and relevant historical data.

The easy-to-use identification system permits quick recognition of the most common orchid groups in Central and South America. Genus descriptions are given in plain language designed for a nonscientific audience but will prove highly useful to advanced botanists as well. Descriptions focus on external morphology, and great care has been taken to ensure the guide is useful in the field without reliance on microscopes or dissections. Equally valuable as a field guide, a desktop reference, or a gift, Orchids of Tropical America will make an excellent addition to any orchid lover's library.

"The authors of this introductory text are acknowledged experts on tropical American orchids with decades of combined experience of orchids in both the wild and culture. You could not find a better trio of enthusiasts and specialists to introduce you to the wonderful and occasionally bizarre world of tropical American orchids."
– from the Foreword by Phillip J. Cribb


- Introduction to the guide
- What is an orchid?
- Key characteristics for identifying orchids
- Illustrated glossary of orchid characteristics
- How to identify orchid groups
- Easy-to-use orchid identification system

Orchid Diversity, Ecology & Conservation
- Introduction to orchid biology and ecology
- Why are orchids so diverse?
- Fooling flies, duping lovers & other ecological tales
- Collectors & bandits, a history of orchids and the people that pursued them
- Threats and conservation:  what is being done to save orchids?

Field Guide and Genus Descriptions
- Detailed description of each group, from stem to sepal
- How to distinguish from similar groups
- Photographs of each group's most commonly seen & ecologically important species
- Distribution & diversity
- Biological stories, ecological oddities, medicinal uses, human history & other wild tales
- Where to See Orchids
- Orchid-centered reserves in Central & South America

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Dr. Joe Meisel is vice president of the Ceiba Foundation for Tropical Conservation, and has worked for over a decade in Ecuador conducting research, teaching field ecology, and working with local landowners and communities to protect orchid habitat.

Dr. Ron Kaufmann is a professor at the University of San Diego, a long-time orchid grower, founding member of the Orchid Conservation Alliance and chair of the San Diego County Orchid Society's Conservation Committee.

Dr. Franco Pupulin is the orchid curator of the Lankester Botanical Garden in Costa Rica, editor-in-chief of Lankesteriana, and frequent contributor to scientific journals on the subject of orchid taxonomy.

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