| Author||André Schuiteman|
|Journal||Blumea - Biodiversity, Evolution and Biogeography of Plants|
|Abstract||This fine book consists of two parts: a general account (pp. 1-64) and a taxonomic account (pp. 65-451). The taxonomic account consists of detailed descriptions of all 466 species in 52 orchid genera that are known to occur in Southern Africa, i.e. the area covering the territories of South Africa, Namibia, Lesotho, Swaziland, and Botswana. A surprisingly high percentage of the species is illustrated with colour photographs of excellent quality. Distribution maps are provided for almost all taxa, while for each taxon a number of selected vouchers are given. This part of the book leaves little to be desired: keys to the species, references, synonymy, illustrations, cladograms, almost all one could wish to find in such a book is there, and this solid comprehensiveness makes Orchids of Southern Africa by far the best source ever produced on orchids from this region.|
Unlike European botanists working on tropical orchids, the authors of this book live in the area where their subjects occur, which is obviously a great advantage. It is for this reason that I feel justified in slightly qualifying my otherwise uniform praise. I am a little disappointed to find the notes on the ecology of the species in many cases quite superficial. The photographs often show the species growing in their habitats, and it is readily apparent that they usually occupy highly specific niches. Yet, not infrequently all that we learn of the ecology of a particular species is that it grows in damp grassland. Surely much more is known to the authors and their collaborators than what we find here.
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