19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
Beautiful Hair Splitting
, 10 Jan. 2006
This review is from: Orchids of Britain and Ireland: A Field and Site Guide (Paperback)
This relatively large "field guide" is perhaps better described as a "coffee table book"...it's far too nice to be subjected to the rigours of the field. The numerous pictures are well worth the purchase price alone, to take just one example, the Frog Orchid photos are the best I've ever seen in a published work of this unspectacular species, a difficult plant to capture on film.
The site guide part of the book seems comprehensive, but could have featured more places, perhaps that only have a couple of species, the sites featured are mostly those that have several species present.
My only real gripe with this generally excellent book is the authors' reliance on "genetic evidence" to determine the status of the various species.Two examples : "until recently Burnt Orchis was...in the genus Orchis, but genetic studies have resulted in its transfer to the genus Neotinea..." Since Burnt Orchid is, to say the least, similar to other Orchis species, this seems a bit like suddenly deciding that the Black Headed Gull isn't a gull at all, but a species of penguin. Similarly the split of Fragrant Orchid into three separate species is shown to be an exercise in hair splitting by the table on page
Although this is a work for the general reader, generalisations like "Recently DNA evidence has shown...", in my opinion, must be at least partly elaborated on to justify the counter-intuitive arguments they support.
Having said that, the status of species and subspecies of British Wild Orchids is always debated hotly in books on the subject, and this guide has lots to recommend it.
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