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The books
on the right are reference
Encycolpaedias, whch are all

of Cultivated Orchids

What orchid is That ?

Manual Of Cultivated Orchids Species

Golden Guide

Orchid Digest

Home Orchid Growing

 The New Zealand Native Orchid Group
has excellent information on these orchids and a number of informative publications. These are listed on another page click here

It is intended that a number important and significant orchid books and publications will be listed on this page.

Material will be added over the next few months. The articles will be based on a series intended to be run in the Magazine of the Capital City Orchid Society.

Susan Orlean


Recently there has been published (1998) a book that will appeal to all who enjoy a good story, and also to those interested in orchids.

The Orchid Thief tells the story of John Laroche, an orchid grower and collector of Florida USA. While telling his story the author also narrates the story of orchid growing, a story that all orchid growers will identify with. It tells much about orchids, their history, collecting, pollination, growth, nurseries and nurserymen, but it tells more about the people and personalities involved with these plants. While these personalities are mostly American, growers like Bob Fuchs of R.F Orchids who have visited this country will be recognised, and their story read with special interest.

The 'hero' John Laroche may not be the sort of person most would respect, his story is, however, interesting and well told, and most orchid growers will identify with some of his statements actions if they are truly honest.

This book is an easy way to learn about many fascinating aspects of orchid growing, and also it is a good story, easily readable. It does have some mistakes,
the cover picture is upside down - either by choice to get attention or error, and the name of the plant appears invalid, and the story of Paphiopedilum fairrieanum is told, but the plant is spelt without the 'f'. It is also stated that orchids grow where 'the seeds find a fungus for food', whereas in fact the fungus and orchid join in a mutually beneficial symbiotic relationship. These errors are comparatively minor compared with the scope and content of this publication.

Published by Vintage and available in NZ for $24.95, it certainly would make a good addition to the Society library. If you collect books, you will find it a good and satisfying addition to your personal collection of orchidaceous books. It should be widely available internationally.


by Rebecca Tyson Northen


This book is one of the 'bibles' of many orchid growers. Now in its fourth edition it still gives the best general introduction to the intricacies of orchid growing, and the plants etc. available.

The book covers topics such as -

orchids as a hobby
basic habits and structures
Care of adult cattleyas
genetics and breeding
seedlings from flask to bloom
details of the main orchid families
problems diseases and pests
housing your orchids

Written primarily for American audiences, it does concentrate on cattleyas, but much of that information is of general application, and the other sections provide help for all growers. This slant does not detract from the value of this book.

This book has long been recognised as one of the 'greats' of orchid growing, and all growers will find much of interest and assistance within its pages.

The fourth edition was published in 1990 by Prentice Hall Press, ISBN 0-13-395138-3. The first edition was published in 1950. New copies should still be available, and second hand copies, for the third edition ( illustrated)or fourth edition , are often available. Earlier editions are collectors items.



There are a number of encyclopedias on orchids, three of which are reviewed below.


Encyclopaedia of Cultivated Orchids

by Alex Hawkes


Alex Hawkes produced this book which was first published in 1965 and reprinted a number of times since then.Apart from those published during the 19th Century, this was for many years the best and most comprehensive book available.

The culture is based on osnumda, a widely used material for repotting when the book was published, but one now not available, and replaced by widely by bark based media. Also, the nomenclature, the naming and classification of the plants, has considerably changed. But nevertheless the book still remains very valuable because of the number and scope of the work. It by far is the most comprehensive in the number of species listed, with a brief description of each plant and flower, its flowering period, natural habitat country, and temperature requirements plus list of synonyms.

It contains a number of line and black and white illustrations, plus some colour plates to help with identification, but use of alternative illustration sources such as The Orchid Digest is useful.

An example of the scope is seen in the following table

The changed taxonomy can affect the following figures to some degree
but it does broadly indicate the differences in coverage.




Bechtel Cribb and Launert

















While this book has its faults, those seeking detailed information on orchids will find it an excellent addition to a library. While I often use the more modern texts, I still use this book frequently because of the greater scope of the work.

Published by Faber and Faber Limited, London 1985 and reprinted ISBN 0 571 06502 3


What Orchid Is That?
Edited by
Alex Pridgeon


This can be described as a fully illustrated Hawkes, but without the same coverage of the number of species.

It has a good introduction to orchids, then has an alphabetical listing. Each genus is introduced and representative species are described, many of which are illustrated with generally excellent photographs. If you want to see what a particular genus looks like, this book is excellent, but its limited coverage restricts species identification. Published in 1992, its nomenclature is that accepted at that time. I often find that this book at that by Hawkes (above) can often be used in tandem when the genus and species of a specimen is being sought.

New growers will be fascinated by the range of orchids illustrated, and more advanced growers will appreciate the information and taxonomy.

Published by Kevin Weldon and Associates Australia 1992
ISBN 0-86302 194 9

The Manual of Cultivated Orchid Species

by Helmut Bechtel, Phillip Cribb Edmund and Launert


This book produced in the United Kingdom was first published in 1980 in Germany, and 1981 in the UK. has been subsequently updated in a new edition.

It has good introductory sections on the morphology of orchids, the life of orchids, history of cultivation, artificial hybridisation, endangered orchids , orchid nomenclature and classification, which are both interesting and useful.

Each genus is introduced, the typical plants described, distribution, derivation of name, taxonomy, type species and cultrue discussed,with then a number of typical species described, including detailed distribution, history and synonyms. The information is excellent. There are a number of line drawings, and an excellent extensive colour section with many species illustrated in colour which assists in identification. .

Published by Blandford Press, Poole Dorset 1981
ISBN 7137 1097 7


A Golden Guide

by Floyd S. Shuttleworth, Herbert S. Zim and Godron W. Dillon


How often have you gone to a show and seen a plant on the sales table with an interesting description, but not in flower. This small, inexpensive guide may be the answer. It is basically just a book of pictures of orchids, not photographs but drawings, although it does have a brief introduction to orchids.

The drawings are small, but reliably accurate, and are all in colour. Obviously not all species are described, but there is a good range of at least the more commonly grown ones. - some 30 dendrobiums and a similar number of oncidiums, spread over some 160 pages, each with some 2 to 5 species shown.

First published in 1969 it was revised in 1989 by Alex Pridgeon to reflect taxonomic changes, and may have been revised more recently. The publication was produced in association with the American Orchid Society from whom copies may still be available.

For only a few dollars, this little book should be in the pocket of every orchid grower, especially those attending shows and looking to purchase new gems.

Published by Western Publishing Company Inc. 1969 and 1989

. ISBN 0-307-24027-4




The American Orchid Digest Corporation, a non profit organisation, publishes this quarterly magazine devoted to orchids with an international perspective. This long established publication is one of the great magazines which has maintained a very high editorial quality including an impressive range of articles of interest to a wide range of orchid growers. It is also known for its high quality colour photographs of orchids, probably consistently the best seen in any such magazine in the world.

A subscription currently (2001) costs in US dollars $26 to US addresses and $31 outside the United States. 2 year concessions and Air Mail delivery is also offered. .

A feature in recent years has been the major reviews of certain genera, - copies of which can be obtained by non subscribers as special publications, covering Paphiopedilums, Anguloa, Phragmidedium, Dracula, Cattleya warneri, Phychillus and Encyclia as examples. These range in cost from $US7 to $US20 direct from the Orchid Digest Corporation.

The latest issue (December 2000) contains a Checklist of the Genus Paphiopedilum by Harold Koopowitz and N. Hasegawa with photos of all paph species they recognise. In addition the issue contains a short history on paph hybridising. This is comprehensive, well illustrated and interesting even if you are not a paph fancier. Cultural recommendation for paphiopedilums , plus three other articles make up this particular issue.. This issue alone makes the year subscription a bargain.While this particular magazine covers paphs in detail, a wide range of genera are covered during the years other issues for the widest possible appeal.

Of all the magazines I read, this consistently gives the most satisfaction, and the only one I currently personally purchase. . I still refer back to issues published in the 1970's and 1980's as that material is still some of the best information available on a number of topics.

The illustration on left reproduces a typical page from the magazine, this particular image illustrating a number of paphiopedilums from the Paph article noted above


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