Book Reviews

Schuiteman, A. and de Vogel, E. 2000. Orchid Genera of Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam. Nationaal Herbarium Nederland, Leiden. Price: NLG 50.00 (NLG: 25.00 from southeast Asian countries). Thai/English ISBN: 90-71236-44-7. Lao/English ISBN: ISBN 90-71236-42-0. Khmer/English ISBN 90-71236-43-9. Vietnamese/English ISBN 90-71236-41-2.

This new, attractively priced orchid flora of southeast Asia is a highly commendable milestone, mostly for the fact that it has been translated into Thai, Lao, Khmer, and Vietnamese by native speakers, enabling local residents to access information on orchid identification in their own languages. Publication was made possible by a partnership between the CY 99 Environment Component of the World Bank and the Netherlands Partnership programme through the IUCN Regional Biodiversity Programme for South and Southeast Asia. The implications for education and conservation in the four countries are obvious, which helps to explain why the Worldwide Fund for Nature supported a 10% larger press run. This is in fact only one of 20 such projects funded by the World Bank and IUCN to produce multilingual editions to expand awareness of biodiversity in southeast Asia.

For those with no botanical training, there are bilingual, easy-to use keys to the 174 genera of the area along with a bilingual glossary and illustrations of orchid floral structure. Each of the 174 genera treated is described with information on distribution, habitat, and diagnostic features. Most genera are also illustrated by one or more superb color photographs, four to a page.

I applaud the authors, translators, and contributors for publishing not only a worthwhile orchid flora of the Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam (and surrounding countries) but also field guides that should actually have an significant, local impact on preservation of species under pressures imposed by the most destructive species on the planet.

Alec Pridgeon

Szlachetko, D. L. and P. Rutkowski. 2000. Gynostemia Orchidalium 1. Acta Botanica Fennica 169: 1-380. Finnish Zoological and Botanical Publishing Board, Helsinki. 380 pages, 435 line drawings. Price unknown. ISBN 951-9469-63-X.

In 1995, Darius Szlachetko published Systema Orchidalium, a new classification of the orchids, apostasioids and cypripedioids based upon his detailed morphological analyses on their flowers. It laid out his new classification which recognised these three groups as distinct families and divided the Orchidaceae into eight subfamilies: Orchidoideae, Thelymitroideae, Spiranthoideae, Tropidioideae, Neottioideae, Vanilloideae, Epidendroideae, and Vandoideae. Three of these, Thelymitroideae, Tropidioideae, and Vanillioideae were newly recognised by him. In addition, he recognised many new tribes and subtribes, several new genera, and made many new combinations in them. Systema Orchidalium has not been particularly well received nor widely accepted, mainly because it lacked the detailed evidence to support the new classification. His new publication Gynostemia Orchidalium, written with Piotr Rutkowski, seeks to remedy that by providing detailed illustrations of the gynostemium morphology (column including androecium and gymnoecium) of every orchid genus that the author has managed to examine. In truth this is an impressive number, including many that have not been illustrated or well illustrated before. The drawings of orchid columns in the book are excellent, clear, and well labelled and are certainly a welcome addition to the orchid literature.

The introductory chapters cover materials and methods (flowers preserved in spirit have been the main source for the drawings), terminology, and a review of gynostemium structure. The main text comprises detailed treatments of each subfamily, tribe and subtribe that includes keys, nomenclature, illustrations and morphological observations of the gymnoecium and sometimes of other characters of the flower and plant.

The concentration on the gynoecium is, however, the major weakness of the classification proposed in Systema Orchidalium and elaborated here. There is no question that gynostemium morphology contains important clues to relationships, a fact apparent to Lindley, Reichenbach, Bentham, Pfitzer, and the many others who have contemplated orchid classification and phylogeny. However, we now know that there is evidence from many other sources, such as chemistry, cytology, anatomy, and particularly DNA, that reveals so much more.

Nevertheless, I am pleased to see this detailed account of the orchid column which brings together for the first time so many first-class illustrations of the many complex structures have evolved in the promotion of effective out-crossing. Using the book will, no doubt, be easier when volume 2 is published because volume 1 lacks an index.

Phillip Cribb

New Books

Nelson's Orchis

Erich Nelson (1897-1980) was well known for his monographs and iconographies of European orchids, especially Serapias, Loroglossum (=Himantoglossum), Barlia, and Dactylorhiza. Now, by advance subscription only and at cost, an appreciative volume with a hinged box of 44 exquisite reproductions (280 ´ 375 mm format) of his watercolours of Orchis will be available in the autumn of 2001. The text volume of 128 A4 pages, mostly in German but some in English, will comprise chapters by various authors on Nelson's contributions to science, descriptions of the plates, memoirs of his wife Gerda, and an assessment of the modern phylogenetic treatments of Orchis. By advance subscription before 30 April 2001 the work will cost CHF 155.00/ DM 200.00. To reserve a set, write to:

Kuratorium der Dr. h.c. Erich Nelson-Stiftung

Stadt- und Unversitatsbibliothek Bern

z.h. Herrn William Liebi

Munstergasse 61, Postfach 58

CH-3000 Bern 7, Switzerland

Orchids of New Guinea. Vol. I. Illustrated Checklist and Genera

This is a CD-ROM written and compiled by André Schuiteman and Ed de Vogel of the Nationaal Herbarium Nederland, Leiden branch (formerly known as the Rijksherbarium). It contains about 2000 images, 132 generic descriptions, a checklist covering some 5400 names, tools for identification, a hyperlinked glossary with over 500 terms, references, notes on habitats, and much more, all relating to the orchids of New Guinea.

About half of the images are reproductions of original pencil drawings by J. J. Smith, who next to Rudolf Schlechter was the most prolific author on New Guinea orchids. Many of these drawings have never been published before and several represent taxa not illustrated elsewhere. The remaining images are in full colour; they were made after colour slides contributed by well-known photographers and institutions. For almost all taxa, nearly 3000 at current count, a brief indication of cultural requirements is provided, which, together with the very large number of illustrations, should make this CD-ROM a tremendously useful source for orchid growers.

It is the first volume in a series, which, pending additional funding, will eventually cover all orchid genera and species of southeast Asia. The second planned volume will treat the New Guinea Dendrobiinae in detail.

The current CD-ROM will be available around February 2001 for the very reasonable price of 50 Euro. For ordering information send an e-mail to: or write to: Publications Department, Nationaal Herbarium Nederland, PO Box 9514, 2300 RA Leiden, The Netherlands, or send a fax: +31 71 5273511.

Title Page
Recent Orchid Literature

January 2001.
Copyright The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.