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The  essential guides among the best available in bookstores

Orchids-of-Europe-and-the-Mediterranean. R
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European orchids:

  • Guide découverte des Orchidées d'Europe & de Mediterranée         _cc781905-5cde- 3194-bb3b-136bad5cf58d_                  (Kuhn R, Pedersen H & Cribb Ph) Editions Biotope. 430 pages. 16x24 format and weight not very compatible (1100 g) for a field guide. Publication 1st semester 2020 in French version, original version 2019.  Publisher price €39.

    •   Superb work by a group of authors. The edition presents 300 species with 2000 illustrations, which makes it the current reference work for visual identifications. Compliance with the nomenclature currently in force makes it a solid basis for correctly naming each species. All French species being represented, it can also be used for the national orchid flora. The introductory part and general information on orchids (30 pages) will on the other hand be insufficient for a complete knowledge of this floral family. The distribution maps, taking into account the scale dealt with, remain summary but may prove to be useful. The ultra-optimized layout does not make it a pleasant book at first, but its quality is in the wealth of information.

  • Orchids from Europe, North Africa and the Near East.   (Delforge P) Editions Delachaux and Niestlé.​ 540 pages.   Format  ​​14.5x20 et poids très limite (1100 g) pour un guide de terrain . Publication 2016, 4th revised and expanded edition. Publisher price 39 €

    • Long reference work because of its exhaustiveness on the species: nearly 600! The author unfortunately adopts certain personal biases by multiplying their number precisely, which will not make the task easy for neophytes. Last downside since the iconographic base is 2 to 3 views per species. The introductory part of less than 30 pages will only give the bases for the knowledge of orchids but the keys of determination inside the edition will usefully complete this first part. ​ No distribution maps but only the indication of the country, which turns out to be clearly insufficient: the presence of a species by country will be of little use to help in the determination.

Orchids from France: ​

  • The orchids of France, Belgium and Luxembourg.           _cc781905-5cde-3194 -bb3b-136bad5cf58d_           _cc781905 -5cde-3194-bb3b-136bad5cf58d_         _cc781905-5cde-3194- bb3b-136bad5cf58d_           _cc781905- 5cde-3194-bb3b-136bad5cf58d_   (Collective of authors under the aegis of the Société française d'Orch idophilia) Editions Biotope. 500 pages. 17x24 format and weight not very compatible (1500 g) as a field guide.​ Publication 2005, second edition. New version to come at the end of 2022 in principle. Publisher price 45 €.

    • The best book on French Orchids: presents ​ each species with the identification keys. The iconographic base remains basic (2 to 3 views) and will be the only notable defect of this guide. The introductory part of almost 150 pages is undoubtedly the best documented of the current guides and is almost worth the purchase of the book alone. A distribution map by department and criterion/color (Common, localized, rare, extinct, absent) will prove to be very useful in guiding research.

  • Guide to orchids in France, Switzerland and Benelux.           _cc781905-5cde-3194 -bb3b-136bad5cf58d_           _cc781905 -5cde-3194-bb3b-136bad5cf58d_         _cc781905-5cde-3194- bb3b-136bad5cf58d_(Delforge P) Editions Delachaux et Niestlé​. 350 pages. 13x20 format almost practical as a field guide. Weight 800g. Release 2021, 3rd revised and expanded edition. Publisher price 29.90 €.

    • An introductory part of about thirty very useful pages. A few identification keys adorn this book​ which suffers from insufficient iconography (2 views per species most often). The descriptive part, which is very useful, could be more complete if the author limited the supporting elements of nomenclature or taxonomy which are subject to disagreement with him elsewhere and which take up too much of the pagination here. The distribution maps are intended to be very precise, but the proposed scale does not make it possible to locate a place sought on these maps and even less to validate the certain, probable or uncertain presence of a species. This apparent precision is therefore of little help in determining a species. Its format and its weight (800 g all the same...) allow it to be taken away but to take it out of the bag to determine an orchid in the field seems time-consuming and often doomed to failure, it is better to photograph the orchid encountered as much as possible (whole foot, flower from several angles) and watch it all quietly on the way back.

And to start (small sizes and low prices):

  • Orchidées sauvages (Editions Debaisieux) 132 p   14 €.   70 espèces décrites et illustrées d one to three photos. Cartography. Format and weight compatible to take on a ride. 

  • Guide to common orchids of France by F Jouandoudet (Editions Sud-Ouest) 60 p.   35 species therefore surely insufficient but it can be a start. Description, cartography are nevertheless strong points of this mini guide which one will carry easily with oneself.

  • Guide to the orchids of France. Find them and recognize them. (Editions Sud-Ouest). 116 p.   8.50 €. Same author and same publisher for a more scholarly book: 57 species described, still presence maps and a proposal for 32 botanical itineraries. To be preferred to the previous one given the low price.

  • Guide to the orchids of France by F Dusak, P Lebas, P Pernot (Editions Belin) 225 p.  16.90 €.  An almost exhaustive review of native orchids. The perfect guide to start and take on a ride. Descriptions, flowering dates, determination tips and distribution maps or, failing that, indication of the regions of presence. 


Guide to the wild orchids of France. Full-scale.

(Rémy Souche) Editions The creations of Le Pélican/Vilo. 340 Pages. 23x31 format. Publication 2004. Publisher price €47. Item hard to find new but available second hand.

This is probably not the best organized book for the identification of species but everything is nevertheless there and sometimes in large format: descriptions, quite a few photos, presence by region thanks to maps._cc781905-5cde-3194-bb3b -136bad5cf58d_ We can also blame him for not respecting the nomenclature for certain species.

Rémy Souche is more passionate than scientific (whatever...) and he gives us a superb book full of information, especially on the history of orchidology_cc781905-5cde-3194-bb3b- 136bad5cf58d_ancienne.          _cc781905-5cde -3194-bb3b-136bad5cf58d_      Favorite!  

Specialized works to go further...

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European orchids. Flowers and pollination. 

Accessible scientific work and sum of knowledge on the pollination of orchids and floral parts.

The genera are discussed without detailing each species, so it will not be a tool to identify or have a complete overview of the species. 

The book is full of photos and sketches as well as statistical tables on pollinators in particular. 

Maybe not essential but fascinating nonetheless. 

Editions Biotope. 65 €


Atlas of Orchids of France.

An almost indispensable complement to the Guide to Orchids of France published by Biotope, seen above, you will find this book from the same publisher, which maps quite precisely on a map of France the possible meeting places of our national orchids: description of the biotopes for each species and attendance cards. 

Editions Biotope. 40 €

Artistic works.

Wild orchids of Europe . 35 €

If you are nostalgic for old illustrations based on drawings and watercolors, this book will surely please you. Before photography, there were talented illustrators who knew how to synthesize all the richness of plants in a single watercolor whereas it sometimes takes several photos to describe orchid stems, leaves and flowers at the same time._cc781905-5cde-3194-bb3b -136bad5cf58d_ Bo Mossberg, contemporary illustrator, with his art, knows alternate overviews and close-ups to help us discern the essence of each species (200 in total). This is not a field book because of its 22x28 format but consulting quietly at home and rediscovering your own discoveries through all these illustrations will make you spend wonderful moments. The descriptions of H Pedersen are no less talented and instructive.

Wild orchids from our regions.   Flammarion. 32 €

Photographer and botanist, Laurent Bessol presents a hundred French orchids. Many close-ups will allow you to identify your own discoveries even if this is not the primary purpose of this book in the generous 25x32 format. The orchids are presented in order of flowering and the numerous photos are accompanied by short but instructive texts.

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