Orchid Lit, Fiction and Otherwise

What are your favorite Orchid Related Books?

In this section, we’re accumulating a list of orchid books. But this list is not for scientific, technical, or horticultural treatises or references; there are scads of those. Rather, it’s for everything else. You’ll find mysteries, historical accounts, and anything else that doesn’t fit in the more scholarly shelves, so long as one or more orchids play a prominent role. In some cases, a rating, similar to the move rating system is used, but since we haven’t read them all (and our opinion might not agree with yours!), don’t blame us if we get it wrong. Instead, email us and give us your review and rating as a counterpoint! Of course, please also let us know about books that should be in the list.

The Scent of Scandal: Greed, Betrayal, and the World’s Most Beautiful Orchid – Craig Pittman, University Press of Florida, 2012, ISBN 978-0813039749. Non-fiction. An account of the scandal and intrigue surrounding the discovery of Phragmipedium kovachii. Our June speaker, David Bird, recommended this book.

Orchid Fever: A Horticultural Tale of Love, Lust, and Lunacy – Eric Hansen, Pantheon, 2000, ISBN 978-0679451419. Non-fiction. “A seductive journey into the obsessive, outrageous, and mesmerizing world of orchids.”

The Orchid Thief – Susan Orlean, Random House, 1998, ISBN 978-0679447399. Non-fiction. This chronicle of John Laroche and his efforts to make money propagating the Florida ghost orchid, Dendrophyllax lindenii, got enough visibility even in non-orchid circles that it was the basis for the movie Adaptation, starring Nicholas Cage and Meryl Streep. (Don’t see the movie expecting it to be true to the book, though. It’s a Charlie Kaufman screenplay, so you know it’s …. different. Really different.) Rating: book G/PG, movie R.

Aphid in my Eye – Adventures in the Orchid Trade – Tom Powell, B. B. Mackey Books, 2012, ISBN 978-1893443518. Non-fiction. Tom Dillard gave your editor this book last year and I laughed out loud reading through it. The author, Tom Powell, is well known as the award winning editor and publisher of the Avant Gardener newsletter, but apparently he had a past life in the orchid trade. Rating: G.

Deadly Slipper (2006, ISBN 978-1400079520), The Orchid Shroud (2007, ISBN 978-1400079537), published by Vintage, A Twist of Orchids (2010, ISBN 0312549946), published by Minotaur Books, all by Michelle Wan. Fiction. This is a mystery series, set in the Dordogne region of France, of the classic sort where the protagonists are not professional detectives but investigate deaths which happen around them and affect their lives. People aren't necessarily killed over orchids, but orchids do play a definite role in driving the action of the books and the actions of the characters (one of whom is a botanist). Rating: R.