Orchid: A Cultural History

University of Chicago Press
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At once delicate, exotic, and elegant, orchids are beloved for their singular, instantly recognizable beauty. Found in nearly every climate, the many species of orchid have carried symbolic weight in countless cultures over time. The ancient Greeks associated them with fertility and thought that parents who ingested orchid root tubers could control the sex of their child. During the Victorian era, orchids became deeply associated with romance and seduction. And in twentieth-century hard-boiled detective stories, they transformed into symbols of decadence, secrecy, and cunning. What is it about the orchid that has enthralled the imagination for so many centuries? And why do they still provoke so much wonder?

Following the stories of orchids throughout history, Jim Endersby divides our attraction to them into four key themes: science, empire, sex, and death. When it comes to empire, for instance, orchids are a prime example of the exotic riches sought by Europeans as they shaped their plans for colonization. He also reveals how Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution became intimately entangled with the story of the orchid as he investigated their methods of cross-pollination. As he shows, orchids—perhaps because of their extraordinarily diverse colors, shapes, and sizes—have also bloomed repeatedly in films, novels, plays, and poems, from Shakespeare to science fiction, from thrillers to elaborate modernist novels.

Featuring many gorgeous illustrations from the collection of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Orchid: A Cultural History tells, for the first time, the extraordinary story of orchids and our prolific interest in them. It is an enchanting tale not only for gardeners and plant collectors, but anyone curious about the flower’s obsessive hold on the imagination in history, cinema, literature, and more.
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About the author

Jim Endersby is a reader in the history of science at the University of Sussex. He is the author of A Guinea Pig's History of Biology and Imperial Nature: Joseph Hooker and the Practices of Victorian Science.
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Additional Information

Publisher
University of Chicago Press
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Published on
Nov 7, 2016
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Pages
288
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ISBN
9780226427034
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Language
English
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Genres
Gardening / Flowers / Orchids
Nature / General
Nature / Plants / Flowers
Science / Life Sciences / Botany
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Read Aloud
Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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Wild plants are not only beautiful, but they can also be an affordable and sustainable way to add flavor and nutrition to your diet. Edible Wild Plants for Beginners provides you with the essential information and guidance to begin foraging for edible wild plants and including them in your diet. Edible Wild Plants for Beginners provides profiles of common edible wild plants and includes information on dangerous look-alikes, the best time to harvest, where to find each type of wild plant, and how to cultivate your own garden. From natural remedies to delectable dishes and exotic cocktails, Edible Wild Plants for Beginners provides more than 95 ways for you to use these newfound ingredients.

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With Edible Wild Plants for Beginners, you'll be able to start living sustainably, saving money, and adding variety to your diet the way nature intended.
Flower Therapy is the art of working with flowers, flower essences, and angels for healing, manifestation, and abundance. With flowers as your allies, your dreams really can come true, and youOCOll see that nature truly has the ability to heal!. In this book, Doreen Virtue and Robert Reeves give in-depth information about 88 common flowers, illustrated with gorgeous, full-color photographs. YouOCOll find out about the flowersOCO energetic and healing properties, discover which angels are connected to each one, and learn to associate different species with the various chakras (beyond simply categorizing them by color). In addition, thereOCOs a loving, channeled message of guidance and support directly from each flowerOCOs energy. Doreen and Robert also share with you new and exciting ways to work with Flower Therapy: Create custom bouquets for dear friends. Gather wildflowers to heal and deepen your spirituality. Or choose the perfect blooms for your garden to enhance your connection to the angels. They discuss flower essences, picking fresh blossoms, and purchasing floral arrangements. YouOCOll even be guided through energetic clearing methods and receive detailed instructions about how to perform a Flower Therapy reading. While flowers have an energy that must be experienced, itOCOs not necessary for you to gather any in order to do so. The photos inside, which have been infused with healing energy, are all you need to begin your journey. So, whether you have a green thumb or not, Flower Therapy can start making a difference in your day . . . and bring blessings into your life!"
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • A NEW YORK TIMES NOTABLE BOOK
 
A modern classic of personal journalism, The Orchid Thief is Susan Orlean’s wickedly funny, elegant, and captivating tale of an amazing obsession. Determined to clone an endangered flower—the rare ghost orchid Polyrrhiza lindenii—a deeply eccentric and oddly attractive man named John Laroche leads Orlean on an unforgettable tour of America’s strange flower-selling subculture, through Florida’s swamps and beyond, along with the Seminoles who help him and the forces of justice who fight him. In the end, Orlean—and the reader—will have more respect for underdog determination and a powerful new definition of passion.
 
In this new edition, coming fifteen years after its initial publication and twenty years after she first met the “orchid thief,” Orlean revisits this unforgettable world, and the route by which it was brought to the screen in the film Adaptation, in a new retrospective essay.

Look for special features inside. Join the Random House Reader’s Circle for author chats and more.
 
Praise for The Orchid Thief
 
“Stylishly written, whimsical yet sophisticated, quirkily detailed and full of empathy . . . The Orchid Thief shows [Orlean’s] gifts in full bloom.”—The New York Times Book Review
 
“Fascinating . . . an engrossing journey [full] of theft, hatred, greed, jealousy, madness, and backstabbing.”—Los Angeles Times
 
“Orlean’s snapshot-vivid, pitch-perfect prose . . . is fast becoming one of our national treasures.”—The Washington Post Book World
 
“Orlean’s gifts [are] her ear for the self-skewing dialogue, her eye for the incongruous, convincing detail, and her Didion-like deftness in description.”—Boston Sunday Globe
 
“A swashbuckling piece of reporting that celebrates some virtues that made America great.”—The Wall Street Journal


From the Trade Paperback edition.
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