Australian Orchid Foundation

Slipper orchids of the tropical Americas

Phillip Cribb and Christopher Purver

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Slipper orchids are amongst the most popular of all cultivated orchids. They are widely grown and have been hybridised for almost a century and a half. This book covers the tropical American species of three genera of slipper orchids, SelenipediumMexipedium and Phragmipedium. Until fairly recently the slipper orchid scene has been dominated by the tropical Asian species of the genus Paphiopedilum, however the discovery of a suite of spectacular new species, particularly in the genus Phragmipedium and of the monotypic Mexipedium xerophyticum, a true missing link, has transformed appreciation of the tropical American slipper orchid species. The new generation of hybrids that have resulted are showy, brightly coloured and long-lasting – favourites on the show bench and in the amateur greenhouse.


This is the first monograph in English to cover the tropical American slipper orchids. Written by Phillip Cribb, perhaps the leading orchid taxonomist in the world, together with Christopher Purver, Director of the Eric Young Orchid Foundation, on the Isle of Jersey, renowned for its Phragmipedium breeding program.

The authors provide a detailed systematic treatment of the genera and species, including their history, taxonomy, description, keys, distribution, cytology and ecology. A history of the breeding of Phragmipedium hybrids since the second half of the 19th century deals with the revolution brought about by the discovery of the amazing scarlet –flowered P. besseae and the spectacular royal purple P. kovachii. Future breeding trends are also covered and the cultivation of these desirable plants is also discussed.

Beautifully illustrated throughout with colour botanical paintings by Carol Woodin, as well as black and white line drawings, colour photographs and maps.

Available from Kew Gardens Bookshop and Natural History Publications, Borneo