541 pages, 315 orchid photos, 228 watercolours
Over ten years, the authors criss-crossed the Organ Mountain Range looking for fragments of original forest in an area which had been devastated by the coffee and railway booms of the previous centuries. What they found will fascinate orchid lovers and environmentalists alike. Small, inaccessible fragments - forest oases - still hold populations of plants that were abundant in precolonial times. And from the priceless comprehensive data they collected and present, the authors are able to reconstruct what the original pristine forest must have looked like when Darwin was there.
But the book covers so much more than orchids. It delves into the geological and social history of the Range which in biodiversity is one of the richest on the planet. It's also one of the most endangered, due to past and present human activity. The role of forest in water conservation and climate control, more relevant now than ever before, is explored.
It is an attractive, intelligent and important book which uses orchids - so called 'flagship species' - to highlight the plight of this magical yet fragile environment. With over 600 species lovingly photographed and described in their own habitats, it is a mine of useful information for growers. As a bonus, 200 beautifully detailed watercolours of the miniature group of Pleurothallids have been reproduced making identification of these difficult species easier.
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