978-0-413-74740-2 / 9780413747402






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About the book:

If the Renaissance had tulipomania, which has already been explored so elegantly in Anna Pavord's The Tulip, the modern era has become lost in Orchid Fever, as Eric Hansen explains in this exquisite book, summed up in its subtitle of A Horticultural Tale of Love, Lust and Lunacy. Hansen, author of the award-winning Stranger in the Forest, returned to the Borneo rain forest to accompany two American orchid growers in their search for Paphiopedilum sanderianum--the holy grail of orchids, and one of the rarest plants in the world. Whilst searching for the orchid Hansen learnt of the extraordinary passions inspired by orchids, the international intrigue associated with its cultivation and the ineptitude with which CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) treated its preservation.

Hansen's subsequent foray into the bizarre world of orchids led him on a global odyssey from Borneo to eccentric orchid conventions in California, obsessive orchid growers in the frozen wastes of the Arctic Circle, shady orchid dealers in Germany and sniffy orchid experts in Kew Gardens, in an attempt to understand the perennial seduction of the orchid. En route Hansen also uncovers a murkier side of an orchid world that illegally traffics in rare species. The world-wide retail orchid business is conservatively estimated at $9 billion annually. The orchid's mixture of beauty, fragility and blatantly sexual appearance lies behind this extraordinary obsession, and Hansen tells his story wonderfully. The book is full of wit, pace and local colour, and has a great eye for the bizarre, as in his discovery of the recipe for fox testicle ice-cream made from dried orchid tuber powder. Orchid Fever is a wonderful book which should on no account be limited to horticulturalists!--Jerry Brotton

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