The Wasp and the Orchid
The remarkable life of Australian Naturalist Edith Coleman
This is the previously unwritten story of naturalist Edith Coleman. Edith, who lived in Blackburn, Victoria was the first person to identify and describe, in 1927, the pollination of an orchid by pseudocopulation after careful observations for two seasons of the tongue orchid Cryptostylis leptochila and the strange activities of the ichneumon wasps on its labellum. This paper was written by a woman without formal scientific training, was quoted around the world and finally acknowledged as being an accurate observation and conclusion. Pollination by pseudocopulation was subsequently confirmed in many orchids, especially in Australia. Edith’s extensive work was later acknowledged with the award of the Australian National History Medallion in 1949, the first woman to receive this honour.
Who was Edith Coleman, this prolific and authoritative nature writer with no formal scientific education? Award winning author Dr. Danielle Clode set out to find out and this book is a result of 20 years of her detective work. We are taken along with Danielle, her dead ends and successes in linking together Edith’s story. Her words paint a picture as she reconstructs Edith’s life. It is a very informative and entertaining book, a must read to appreciate Edith Coleman’s contribution to our knowledge and to nature writing and to appreciate and enjoy Danielle’s refreshing writing style. The AOF partially funded Danelle’s research and we are delighted that it has culminated in this marvellous book.
Hardcover 420 pages