A regional monograph of the orchids of the Cape Floristic Region

William R. Liltved and Steven D. Johnson

Sandstone Editions proudly announces publication of The Cape Orchids, a new regional monograph in two volumes. The work encapsulates a comprehensive overview of what is currently known about the classification and ecology of all 241 orchid species, both terrestrial and epiphytic, of the 24 genera native to the Cape Floristic Region of South Africa. An area of prodigious biodiversity, this region has been declared a World Heritage Site and is recognised as one of the top International Biodiversity Hotspots.

The publication of this work comes at an opportune time for global conservation awareness. Habitat destruction has severely reduced populations of many orchid species, so that it is poignant to note that these volumes could offer a ‘final look’ at a number of highly endangered or virtually extinct species. Orchids are one of the most treasured elements of the Cape flora and this book is intended as a fitting tribute to their magnificence.

As the majority of Cape orchids are fire-dependent and many remain dormant for long periods, some spectacular species will rarely be seen in flower. Significant aspects of their natural history, biology and distribution have thus, until recently, remained poorly documented. The Cape Orchids forms a scientifically important archival record, combining the literature of nearly four centuries with contributions from many well-known botanical authorities of today, making it an indispensable reference work. With a strong focus on natural history, photographic imagery and botanical art, it presents a living herbarium of these fascinating plants. The authors’ holistic approach extends well beyond the traditional treatment of taxonomy and plant descriptions to cover a wider spectrum, encompassing biological, ecological and evolutionary aspects.

Features of the work include:
  • More than 2000 photographs, depicting the Cape orchids with astonishing clarity, including a major contribution from Herbert Stärker of Vienna
  • Reproductions of numerous historical paintings and of exquisite watercolour illustrations by renowned botanical artist Fay Anderson
  • Accounts of the various expeditions undertaken by the authors and their colleagues, from 1990 to 2012, to study the orchid species, including the discoveries of several new taxa
  • An introduction to the Cape Floristic Region, its flora, biomes and vegetation, its geology and fossil plants, its orchid flora and the conservation of orchids and their habitats
  • A history of botanical exploration, including biographical and anecdotal information on the numerous botanists and naturalists associated with southern African orchid discovery and research over the last four centuries
  • A centenary celebration of the life of Dr Harry Bolus, amateur botanist and artist, whose beautifully illustrated orchid monographs have inspired generations of botanists
  • The morphology of Cape orchids, including composite photographic plates recording the seasonal phases of the species, their growth habits, underground organs, leaves, inflorescences, flower and seed structure, and colour mutations
  • The relationship between Cape orchids and fire, with special reference to orchid life-history strategies that enable survival in fire-prone vegetation
  • Pollination of Cape orchids by butterflies, moths, flies, bees, beetles and birds, covering previously unknown pollinators, as well as deception and mimicry by the orchids, self-pollination and natural hybridisation
  • Information on the cultivation and artificial hybridisation of Cape orchids
  • Full species accounts, with plant name derivations, synoptic descriptions, flowering period, history and relationships, distribution, field notes and biology, of all the Cape terrestrial and epiphytic orchids