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Good Reads  Botany  Vascular Plants  Orchids

The Orchid Outlaw On a Mission to Save Britain's Rarest Flowers

By: Ben Jacob(Author)
314 pages, 8 plates with colour photos and colour illustrations; b/w illustrations
Publisher: John Murray
The Orchid Outlaw
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  • The Orchid Outlaw ISBN: 9781399802284 Paperback Apr 2024 In stock
  • The Orchid Outlaw ISBN: 9781399802260 Hardback May 2023 In stock
Selected version: £19.99
About this book Customer reviews Biography Related titles

About this book

Ten years ago, Ben Jacob turned outlaw to save our rarest flowers. this is his story.

Obsessed by orchids since childhood, Ben spent years travelling to far-flung jungles to see them in the wild. Then a chance encounter set him off on a journey of discovery into the wonderful, but often forgotten, world of Britain's fifty-one native species. These include the Bee which looks (and smells) so much like one that even bees are fooled, the Ghost which exists without sunlight, and Autumn Lady's Tresses which gave Darwin the proof he needed for his theory of evolution.

But our orchids are in desperate trouble. Many species are facing extinction. Decimated by changes in land use and climate, inadequately protected by environmental and planning laws, their habitats are disappearing fast. Determined to act before it was too late, Ben broke into building sites in the dead of night to rescue threatened plants, and turned his kitchen into a laboratory, his fridge into storage for hundreds of baby orchids, and his back yard into a plantation. But doing all that put him on the wrong side of the law. . .

At once a memoir, a natural history, and an inspiring call to action, reintroducing us to Britain's most endangered flowers, The Orchid Outlaw shows us how we can all save the world, one plant at a time.

Customer Reviews


University lecturer by day and clandestine ecologist by night, Ben Jacob lives with his family (and a small plantation of native orchids) at an undisclosed location deep in the West Country. This is his first book.

By: Ben Jacob(Author)
314 pages, 8 plates with colour photos and colour illustrations; b/w illustrations
Publisher: John Murray
Media reviews

– Longlisted for the Wainwright Prize
– Shortlisted for the Richard Jefferies Award

"If this doesn't turn into one of the most talked about nature books of the year, I'll eat my hat. Brilliantly written, urgent and brave"
– Lee Schofield, author of Wild Fell

"A brave, timely and inspiring example of how to exercise our moral obligation to care for the non-human beings we share the world with. The Orchid Outlaw is an empowering tonic to the environmental despair evoked by the lack of leadership from our lawmakers"
– Leif Bersweden, author of Where the Wild Flowers Grow

"A vivid love letter to Britain's wild orchids [...] Ben Jacob breaks all the rules with enormous success"
– Francis Pryor, Time Team and author of The Making of the British Landscape

"A daring, delightful and galvanising call to save the world, one plant at a time"
The Bookseller, editor's choice

"It's noble work in a time of great change. The Orchid Outlaw urges us to look closer and tread more carefully"
– Alice Vincent, New Statesman

"Unorthodox and precious [...] The Orchid Outlaw [...] offers captivating descriptions of pre-dawn forays on to private land where housing developments will soon obliterate colonies of precious orchids"
Financial Times, Best new books on climate and the environment

"One man's fascinating mission to save the great British orchid [...] The book is written with a skip and drama, and will leave you furious that these strange and delicate plants have been so neglected"
Mail on Sunday

Country Life

"A fearless battle and a lifelong passion [...] find out why Ben Jacob has risked heavy fines and even prison to save our endangered orchids"

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