Guest Author - Susan Taylor
Eric A. Christenson has written the first taxonomic update on the Phalaenopsis since 1969. This popular orchid species is described in detailed descriptions, drawings and photographs.
As is the case in most books of this type, author Christenson begins with chapters about the history, ecology and distribution of the Phalaenopsis. The ecology section is especially helpful in describing the native habitats for different groups of Phalaenopsis plants. It is important for an orchid grower to learn as much as possible about the common growing conditions of any orchid they are considering for addition to their collection. A separate chapter entitled Morphology describes the various plant parts in a general way.
Each subgenus of plants is then detailed in the following chapters. Leaves, flower parts and inflorescences are all precisely described by shape, size and color. Common areas of distribution, naming origins and publication information on available illustrations in included for most of the plants.
Eric Christenson's wealth of information about Phalaenopsis shows through the entire book. As a taxonomist with laboratory experience, he has held a variety of positions with botanical gardens doing field work and propogation. This experience in several aspects of orchid work would seem to give him the background to write a book that will appeal to hobbyists, scientists and those growing Phalaenopsis commercially.
The chapter on cultivation lists specific recommendations for potting media, containers, the mechanics of repotting, fertilizers, temperature, humidity and watering. Prevention and treatments for pests and diseases such as bacterial rot are also covered. The final chapter gives information about Phalaenopsis hybrids and the seven classes of flowers that are commonly recognized.
Minor quibbles about the quality of some of the photographs and the shortage of pictures of the actual plants aside, I can recommend this book to any serious Phalaenopsis lover. The publication values from Timber Press are at their usual level of high quality.
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