Poster spreads

The digitising of many hundreds of photographs and illustrations for The Cape Orchids has been superbly accomplished by Thomas Mihal of Positive Imaging, Cape Town ( These poster spreads produced by Thomas contain a range of images from the book. See Thomas's website for other examples of his work (
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The Cape Floristic Region spread of images shows:

The rugged Cape mountains provide a diverse range of habitats for orchids—a sublime wintry view towards Simonsberg and Table Mountain from the Franschhoek Mountains (May 1995).

The Hottentotsholland Mountains near Somerset Sneeukop (January 2000).

Snow blanketing fynbos vegetation on Groot-Winterhoek Peak (August 1996).

The renewal of life after fire is a quintessential and spectacular part of the ecology in the Cape Floristic Region.
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The history of botanical exploration spread of images shows:

Cape Town and Table Mountain in 1772. Oil on canvas by the English painter, William Hodges (1744–1797), the official artist on the second voyage of Captain James Cook. Iziko William Fehr Collection; accession no. CD 21.

Francis Masson, an energetic gardener on the staff of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, London, was, in 1772, the first official plant collector to be sent abroad from England. During his travels at the Cape, Masson is said by John Bellenden Ker to have met an anonymous Dutch soldier described as an ‘artist of great skill as a designer of the objects of natural history’. Reproductions of the soldier-artist’s illustrations of Cape orchids were used to complement a series of articles by Ker, published between 1818 and 1820 in the Quarterly Journal of Science, [Literature,] and the Arts. The plate figured here, the originals of which are now housed in the herbarium of the Natural History Museum, London, are among the first scientifically accurate published illustrations of Cape orchids.

With its unfailing nearby spring, the wild but hospitable ‘Heerenlogement’ or ‘Gentlemen’s lodging’ was so named by travellers along the old route through the Sandveld, about 300 km north of the Cape of Good Hope in the direction of Namaqualand. Explorers, including Van der Stel, Thunberg, Masson and Paterson, camped on the level area below the rock-shelter. In the overhang, the names of many more, such as Zeyher and Levaillant (as ‘F. Vailant’), were chiselled into the rock. To the right of this panel are faded paintings in red ochre made by the San several thousand years ago. From an overhead rock-crevice grows a gnarled wild fig, Ficus salicifolia var. cordata, which is probably the same hoary old tree described by Levaillant during his visit there in 1783.

Some of the species accounts of Cape orchids are accompanied by framed biographies of celebrated botanists and naturalists such as William John Burchell (1781-1863), William Henry Harvey (1811-1866), Peter MacOwan (1830-1909), Carl Thunberg (1743-1828), and Francis Masson (1741-1805).
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The Bolus spread of images shows:

Dr Harry Bolus, London, c. 1909.

H. Bolus’s orchid volumes: Orchids of the Cape Peninsula (1888—first edition, Bolus’s personal working copy; 1918—second edition), Orchids of South Africa—Icones orchidearum austro-africanarum extra-tropicarum, vol. 1, pt 1 (1893); 1, pt 2 (1896); vol. 2 (1911), and vol. 3 (1913). Bolus’s working copy of Orchids of the Cape Peninsula is shown alongside his folding metre-rule, designed specially for field use and custom-crafted from ivory in Paris (Courtesy of Paul Mills (Bolus’s working copy) and E.G.H. Oliver (ivory rule)).

Mr Shipton’s Study, Oxted, Surrey. This pastel drawing by the eminent Pre-Raphaelite painter, Arthur Hughes, was completed on about 27 May 1911 and depicts the study as Harry Bolus had left it before he died on the 25th.
Accompanied by his niece, Louisa Kensit (later Louisa Bolus), Bolus was residing with his friend Mr Shipton, a London banker, in May 1911. He was visiting England from Cape Town to supervise the printing of the second volume of Icones orchidearum austro-africanarum extra-tropicarum, when, at the age of 77, he suffered a heart attack and died in bed in the early morning of 25 May 1911 after correcting his final proofs. About two days later, at the request of Louisa Kensit, Hughes travelled down from Richmond to Oxted and spent a full day sketching the study exactly as her beloved uncle had left it (Courtesy of John Rourke).

The discovery that horseflies pollinate orchids was first made by Celestine du Plessis, a schoolteacher near Porterville. In February 1911 she sent a life-size painting of a long-proboscid horsefly (Philoliche gulosa) and letter to Bolus, explaining that the insect found by one of her students was carrying an orchid pollinarium, possibly of ‘D. draconis’ (D. harveyana subsp. longicalcarata), attached to its proboscis.

Harry Bolus at his home, Sherwood, near Cape Town. Photographed by Dr A. Penther in March 1895 (Manuscripts and Archives Department, University of Cape Town Libraries).

Louis Leipoldt, an Afrikaans literary figure, physician and naturalist who corresponded extensively with Harry Bolus. From the age of 16, when he began writing to the 63 year old stockbroker and botanist, a lively exchange of letters and plant specimens took place. It only came to an end with the older man’s death in 1911. This correspondence can be followed in a delightful collection entitled Dear Dr Bolus: Letters from Clanwilliam, London. New York & Europe, written mainly during his medical education by Louis Leipoldt to Harry Bolus in Cape Town from 1897 to 1911. Edited by E.M. Sandler, 1979. Published for the University of Cape Town by A.A. Balkema, Cape Town.

A fresh inflorescence of Disperis paludosa superimposed on Bolus’s illustration of the species from Orchids of the Cape Peninsula (1918: t. 115).
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Disa spread 1: Disa richardiana, D. glandulosa, D. telipogonis, D. rosea, D. schizodiodes, D. virginalis, D. maculata, D. pillansii
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Disa spread 2: Disa spathulata subsp. tripartita, Disa spathulata subsp. spathulata, D. lugens var. lugens, D. lugens var. nigrescens, D. procera, D. schlechteriana, D. barbata
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Coryciinae and Disperis spread 1: Evotella rubiginosa, Disperis cucullata, Certandra globosa, Disperis paludosa, Corycium microglossum
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Coryciinae and Disperis spread 2: Corycium bifidum (background), Disperis capensis var. capensis (two forms), Ceratandra venosa, C. grandiflora, Pterygodium volucris