Huntleyas (which are in the subfamily Epidendroideae) are quite a remarkable tropical American orchid group. The fuss is mostly about the colors, which are everything from ultra-rich solids to hypnotically patterned variegations. The petals are sometimes fringed and sometimes waxy, and even sometimes both at the same time.
This is the first substantial monograph ever published on Huntleyas, and it includes seventeen other genera (with somewhat challenging names such as Aetheorhyncha, Daiotyla, Chondroorhyncha, and Warczewiczella) and it's quite up-to-date. It includes recent DNA studies which sort out previous taxonomic problems making it possible to identify the characteristics that set different species apart. The book then continues with a general description of the characteristics of these plants, two keys to the genera, and several pages of essential information on their cultivation (generally low light and high humidity) and even propagation information. And that's just the fascinating introduction!
The bulk of this substantial book deals with each genus and all its species, with very full descriptions, etymologies, key and other important information. The stunning photographs show the shapes and wide range of colors of the flowers, and at the end there’s a glossary, an excellent reference section, and the index.
Harding is a grower, photographer, judge at orchid shows, and researcher. She has moved Huntelyas much closer to the front and center of orchid popularity where they deserve to be.
Timber Press, Portland, OR, (800) 327-5680, www.timberpress.com, 2008, 260 pages, color photographs and black and white drawings, hardback, $39.95