Orchids of Tropical America

Orchids of Tropical America: An Introduction and Guide

Joe E. Meisel
Ronald S. Kaufmann
Franco Pupulin
Foreword by Phillip J. Cribb
Copyright Date: 2014
Edition: 1
Published by: Cornell University Press,
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    Orchids of Tropical America
    Book Description:

    "The authors of this introductory text are acknowledged experts on tropical American orchids with decades of combined experience of orchids in both the wild and culture. You could not find a better trio of enthusiasts and specialists to introduce you to the wonderful and occasionally bizarre world of tropical American orchids."-from the Foreword by Phillip J. Cribb

    Orchids of Tropical Americais an entertaining, informative, and splendidly illustrated introduction to the orchid family for enthusiasts and newcomers seeking to learn about more than 120 widespread orchid genera. Joe E. Meisel, Ronald S. Kaufmann, and Franco Pupulin bring alive the riot of colors, extraordinary shapes, and varied biology and ecology of the principal orchid genera ranging from Mexico and the Caribbean to Bolivia and Brazil. Orchids, likely the most diverse family of plants on earth, reach their peak diversity in the tropical countries of the Western Hemisphere, including, for example, more than 2,500 species in Brazil and 4,000 in Ecuador. The book also highlights reserves in the American tropics where travelers can enjoy orchids in the wild.

    Whether you journey abroad to see these unique plants, raise them in your home, or admire them from afar, this book offers fascinating insights into the diversity and natural history of orchids. Beyond the plant and flower descriptions,Orchids of Tropical Americais packed with informative stories about the ecology and history of each genus. Pollination ecology is given in detail, with an emphasis on how floral features distinctive to the genus are linked to interaction with pollinators. This book also features information on medicinal and commercial uses, notes on the discoverers, and relevant historical data.

    The easy-to-use identification system permits quick recognition of the most common orchid groups in Central and South America. Genus descriptions are given in plain language designed for a nonscientific audience but will prove highly useful to advanced botanists as well. Descriptions focus on external morphology, and great care has been taken to ensure the guide is useful in the field without reliance on microscopes or dissections. Equally valuable as a field guide, a desktop reference, or a gift,Orchids of Tropical Americawill make an excellent addition to any orchid lover's library.

    Visit the website for this book at www.orchidsoftropicalamerica.com.

    eISBN: 978-0-8014-5492-9
    Subjects: Botany & Plant Sciences

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Foreword
    (pp. ix-x)
    Phillip J. Cribb

    In the spring of 1971, I was fortunate enough to visit the ruins of Machu Picchu in Peru in the company of César Vargas, best known as a prolific contributor to the Flora of Peru project and an expert on the native orchids, which he collected for Charles Schweinfurth, the author of the Flora’s orchid account. My outstanding memory of the trip was walking with him up the zigzag road to the ruins and being astounded by the quantity and diversity of orchids growing along the roadside. These impressions were colored by my total lack of knowledge of tropical American...

  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-8)

    Before the first glow of morning crawls through the dense fog, you wake to the whistles and croaks of hidden birds echoing off the steep mountain slopes. A light breeze carries the sounds of insects, the crackling of wings and scraping of leg-on-leg, along with the musical burble of a rocky stream and the distant roar of a plunging waterfall. The air, still cool from a starry night amid the peaks, delivers a rich texture of fragrances to your nose, exhaled from the damp earth, growing vegetation, and nocturnal flowers. You slip on your boots, step out into the morning,...

  6. Orchid Ecology, Diversity, and Conservation
    (pp. 9-30)

    Orchids have been a source of amazement, amusement, and scientific discovery for more than 500 years. Early explorers and collectors were captivated by the shapes, colors, and species diversity of this beguiling family of plants. Later researchers, such as Joseph Hooker and Charles Darwin, spent countless hours studying the intricacies of flower development, pollination, and germination. Pioneering orchid expert John Lindley eloquently summarized the allure of orchids: “Whether we consider general elegance of individuals, durability of blossoms, splendid colours, delicious perfume, or extraordinary structure, it would be difficult to select any [family] superior to Orchideae in these respects, and few...

  7. Orchid Identification
    (pp. 31-54)

    Nearly all orchids can be recognized by visible, external characteristics. Although modern taxonomy relies heavily on genetic analysis, most orchids can be distinguished by the shape, arrangement, and texture of their various parts. The broad diversity of forms exhibited within the family gives us the keys to their identification. Precise shape of the lip is particularly helpful, and whether its edges are smooth, lobed, or frilly. Flower orientation also is informative, with blossoms of a minority of species presenting their lip uppermost, above the column, rather than lowermost. Whether stems are swollen into pseudobulbs, or sprout directly from roots, represents...

  8. Orchid Genus Accounts
    (pp. 55-216)

    This guide includes 122 of the most common, widespread, and eye-catching genera of orchids in the American tropics. Each genus account provides a text description of the plant and its flowers, relates pertinent aspects of its ecology and history, and presents a selection of photographs to illustrate characteristic features and the range of shapes and colors of its species. Below, we explain the structure of the genus accounts and clarify the terminology used therein.

    Each of the following accounts begins with a one-sentence encapsulation of the key distinguishing features of the genus, succeeded by a more detailed description of flower...

  9. Where to See Orchids: Nature Reserves and Conservation Sites
    (pp. 217-232)

    Orchids are arguably best viewed in their natural setting, where mossy branches and emerald fronds form perfect frames and backdrops. While you are enjoying wild orchids in bloom, you may happen upon a troop of monkeys, a flock of iridescent birds, or a stunning panorama—experiences that will remain with you forever. Numerous destinations throughout tropical America provide visitors the opportunity to appreciate orchids in their native habitat, from rainforest to cloud forest, and we urge you to undertake a trip to some of these sites. Local reserve managers and tourism operators earn their livelihood through such tours, and the...

  10. Bibliography
    (pp. 233-246)
  11. Index
    (pp. 247-260)