Publication details

The Cape Orchids: a regional monograph of the orchids of the Cape Floristic Region
W.R. Liltved and S.D. Johnson

The Cape Orchids is finally in print. This monograph in two volumes of 1048 pages includes some 2000 colour photographs and paintings. At 6.7 kg (owing to the special fine-art paper used), it may also qualify as one of the weightiest botanical monographs ever published.

Publication of The Cape Orchids sees the culmination of a mammoth botanical project that began 22 years ago, and presents an authoritative account of the taxonomy and ecology of the 241 orchid species native to the Cape Floristic Region. The final product reflects the considerable advances in digital photography and printing over the past decade, along with all the developments in botanical knowledge that have taken place during this period.

As the majority of the Cape orchids are fire-dependent and many remain dormant for long periods, some spectacular species are only rarely seen in flower. Significant details of their natural history, biology and distribution have thus, until the publication of this work, remained poorly documented. Forming a scientifically important archival record, it collates the literature of nearly four centuries with additional contributions from numerous well-known botanical authorities of today. In addition, by combining natural-history information, photographic imagery and botanical art, this book serves as a pictorial herbarium of these fascinating plants.

A dazzling array of photographs, many by Herbert Stärker, as well as historical paintings and the watercolours of botanical artist Fay Anderson, illustrate the species accounts. These include plant name derivations, synoptic descriptions, flowering periods, history and relationships, distributions, field notes and biology. Introductory chapters reflect the authors’ holistic approach. A broad spectrum of subjects ranges from the history of botanical exploration and a centenary celebration of the life of amateur botanist Dr Harry Bolus, to the evolution and morphology of Cape orchids and the intriguing stories of their pollination by butterflies, moths, flies, bees, beetles and birds. The secrets of deception and mimicry, self-pollination and natural hybridisation are revealed, and information is also provided on the conservation of orchids and their habitats, and on their cultivation and hybridisation.

The Cape Orchids is an indispensable reference work for botanists and plant-lovers alike. In the first review published in the Orchid Research Newsletter, leading American orchid authority Dr Alec Pridgeon gives his stamp of approval to the book, describing it as ‘a masterwork that provides such an overwhelming amount of data that it can only be considered encyclopedic’. His conclusion is that the ‘wealth of data and treasury of superb illustrations make this one of the best regional monographs (regardless of plant family) in recent memory’.

Specifications and contact details

Liltved, W.R. and Johnson, S.D. 2012. The Cape Orchids. Hardcover, 2 vols.: vol. 1 xix + 1-484; vol. 2 vi + 485-1022 pp. Sandstone Editions, P.O. Box 372, Noordhoek 7979, Cape Town, South Africa. Telephone (+27) 21 789-1069

The volumes are cloth-bound with gold embossments (+French fold jackets) individually shrink-wrapped within a slipcase protected by a sturdy mailing carton. The print-run comprises 1000 standard sets.
The deluxe collectors' edition is limited to 50 two-volume sets. The volumes are bound in half-leather with matching linen sidings, with gilt-edging on three sides. The spine is rounded with seven raised bands and tooled in gold. Each volume is numbered and signed by the authors, and contained in a separate handcrafted slipcase.

Paper 128 gsm matt art paper, printed in full colour throughout
Format 305 × 240 mm
Extent 1048 pages, in two volumes bound in hardcover and jacketed, in a slipcase
Weight 6.7 kg
Standard edition: ISBN 978-0-9870197-2-1
Collectors’ edition: ISBN 978-0-9870197-3-8

Standard edition: USD 350 excluding postage and packing (if a quote in your local currency is required please contact us); Collectors' edition, price on request. Prices may change slightly due to currency fluctuations.

The preferred payment method is PayPal. Bank transfers (EFT) are also accepted.

For further details, or to secure your copy of this book, limited to a print-run of 1000 sets, write to the publisher at the above address or send an email to

To download the Cape Orchids flyer, CLICK HERE
The two volumes of The Cape Orchids and their slipcase
The collectors' edition volumes of The Cape Orchids and one of the two individual slipcases

Publication of
The Cape Orchids
has been supported
by the Botanical Society
of South Africa