Deceptive Beauties: The World of Wild Orchidsby Christian Ziegler University of Chicago Press
- Pub Date:
- Hbk 184 pages
- AU$79.99 NZ$82.60
But the disquieting beauty of orchids is an unplanned marvel of evolution, and the story of orchids is as captivating as any novel. As acclaimed writer Michael Pollan and National Geographic photographer Christian Ziegler spin tales of orchid conquest in Deceptive Beauties: The World of Wild Orchids, we learn how these flowers can survive and thrive in the harshest of environments, from tropical cloud forests to the Arctic, from semi-deserts to rocky mountainsides; how their shapes, colors, and scents are, as Darwin put it, “beautiful contrivances” meant to dupe pollinating male insects in the strangest ways. What other flowers, after all, can mimic the pheromones and even appearance of female insects, so much so that some male bees prefer sex with the orchids over sex with their own kind?
And insects aren’t the only ones to fall for the orchids’ charms. Since the “orchidelirium” of the Victorian era, humans have braved the wilds to search them out and devoted copious amounts of time and money propagating and hybridizing, nurturing and simply gazing at them. This astonishing book features over 150 unprecedented colour photographs taken by Christian Ziegler himself as he trekked through wilderness on five continents to capture the diversity and magnificence of orchids in their natural habitats. His intimate and astonishing images allow us to appreciate up close nature’s most intoxicating and deceptive beauties.
Foreword by Natalie Angier
Introduction by Michael Pollan
They captivate with their beauty and seeming fragility, yet orchids belong to one of the hardiest, most adaptable plant families on Earth.
For plants that are relatively rare, orchids are spectacularly diverse, with 25,000 wild species to their credit—twice as many as birds and four times as many as mammals.
Masters of deception, fully a third of all orchids promise their pollinators far more than they deliver.
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