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Vol. 8(4), pp. 14-15The McAllen International Orchid Society JournalApril 2007

Orchids of Europe, North Africa and the Middle East

Paul Martin Brown

Pierre Delforge. Portland, Oregon: Timber Press, 2006. 640 pp.; 1270 color photos plus several line drawings and watercolors; hardcover, 5 x 7.5 in (190 x 125 mm) $39.95. ISBN-13: 9780881927542; ISBN-10: 0881927546.

Fig. 1. Cover, Orchids of Europe, North Africa and the Middle East

Delforge's previous works have always been well received as they should be. His work is meticulous and although limited to brief entries for each species, as complete as space permits. The gallery of photographs is mind-boggling. This current book is no exception. It combines the best of all of his other books and presents a single volume that is both an update of previous works and much new material as well as needed revisions both taxonomically and nomenclaturally. Technically a 3rd edition of his original work of the same name it has more than 200 additional pages than previous French editions.

Introductory chapters on basic orchid information--anatomy, life cycles, reproduction and orchid identification are detailed and easy to understand with many excellent graphics. The following chapters of species accounts are broken into four chapters and arranged by subtribes and the genera arranged systematically. Although this arrangement is excellent for the botanist it does make it difficult to find a specific genus or species quickly without consulting the index. Because of the large geographic area covered by the book one must read through the descriptions very carefully to find those species that might occur where the reader is exploring. This is not necessarily a negative aspect of the book but does force the reader into review many more species.

A few synonyms are given with each species entry and fortunately they are in the index as well. Several taxonomical and nomenclatural points should be mentioned.

The genus Listera is nested into Neottia, Pseudorchis into Gymnadenia; although Coeloglossum is maintained in its own genus rather than in Dactylorhiza. Hybrids are treated extensively as are aberrant and unusual forms such as albinos, white-flowered forms and other various color variants.

The largest genera treated--Epipactis, Dactylorhiza, Orchis, and Ophrys are as complete as they can possibly be with extensive illustrations to help sort out the oft-confusing species and forms. Ophrys alone has over 250 pages devoted to the genus!

Pierre Delforge has studied orchids, observed the evolution of their habitats, and protected them for more than 35 years in Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East and is an expert on European orchids for the IUCN -- the World Conservation Union.

I can recommend this new work with no reservations and at $39.95 it is one of the best buys in orchid literature available!

NOTE: This title has been published in Great Britain by A & C Black (ISBN 9780713675252) and cooperatively with Timber Press in the North America. They have different cover images but the body of the books is the same.

Copyright © 2007 Paul Martin Brown