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AuthorA. Schuiteman
JournalBlumea - Biodiversity, Evolution and Biogeography of Plants
AbstractThe number of orchid species in New Guinea is not easily estimated; there are many large, poorly studied genera, of which scores of undescribed species as well as many synonyms are waiting to be discovered. There may well be about 2500 species in all: almost double the size of the entire phanerogamous flora of the Netherlands! Only few recent publications (apart from taxonomic revisions of individual genera) are available to those who want to learn more about them. The most important is still the translation into English of Schlechter‘s 1914 classic ‘Die Orchidaceen von Deutsch-Neu-Guinea’, which appeared in 1982 as ‘The Orchidaceae of German New Guinea’. Unfortunately the Latin descriptions were not translated, and Schlechter’s illustrations consist exclusively of floral analyses. Then there is A. Millar’s ‘Orchids of Papua New Guinea, an introduction’ which has fine colour photographs but too many serious misidentifications to be of much use. Finally, the orchid part in volume 2 (1979) of Van Royen’s ‘Alpine Flora of New Guinea’ can be mentioned; this is restricted to species occurring above 3000 m and suffers from Van Royen’s extremely narrow species concept. On the positive side the latter work contains habit drawings of many species.
Peter O’Byrne’s massive book is a very welcome addition. It consists largely of accurate descriptions and page-size pencil drawings, depicting habit as well as floral details of 269 species occurring below 1000 m in Papua New Guinea. Next to the descriptions there are many interesting observations on the individual species. Almost half of them are illustrated by good colour photographs. This book was written by the author, a chemistry teacher by profession, in his spare time in about five years while temporarily stationed in Papua New Guinea. This is a remarkable accomplishment, considering that, as we learn in the preface, in this period he had to teach himself to read botanical Latin, to draw plants and to learn many other things. Evidently he has been a good pupil of himself.
Document typearticle
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