Book Reviews

Orchids of Australia

orchidsofaustraliaby John J. Riley and David P. Banks

Published by University of New South Wales Press Ltd.

Hard cover, full colour, 322 pages

This book showcases both the diversity and beauty of Australia’s unique orchid flora and the rare talent of illustrator, John Riley. John draws what he sees with no artistic embellishments and his coloured drawings are masterpieces of meticulous accuracy and beauty.

One hundred and fifty species are covered, including both terrestrial and epiphytic orchids from all parts of Australia. It includes many of the well-known and widespread species as well as many that are extremely rare, some of which have only recently been discovered and described.

Each species description consists of a page of text with a colour illustration opposite. Page numbers appear only on the pages with text, so as not to detract from the impact of the drawings. Each illustration gives the location where the depicted specimen was found and the date drawn. All illustrations are drawn to a scale that appears on every drawing, with a key to all the floral parts.

The orchid genera have been arranged alphabetically and, where appropriate, separated into informal groupings. Within each genus the species appear in chronological order of description, starting with the first-named. Closely related taxa are therefore grouped together, for easier comparison.

Each species is identified by its botanical name, followed by the abbreviated author’s name. This is followed by the year the species was described under that name and where the original description was published, also the location from which the specimens used for the original description was sourced. To give an insight into why specific names are chosen, the derivation of the names is also recorded.

Flowering times are listed and distribution and habitat for each species is detailed. Conservation status is given. Miscellaneous observations about the species, including historical notes and other points of interest, are provided along with reproductive biology of the taxon and known pollinating agents.

A glossary appears towards the back of the book and includes terms used throughout the text.

The combined talents of John Riley and David Banks have produced a beautifully illustrated and authoritative book which should have tremendous appeal for all those with an interest in our orchid flora or who appreciate fine botanical illustration. 

Availability and price unknown.

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