James Bateman’s 40 Orchids of Mexico & Guatemala, my search for those forty orchids

Before the pandemic started, I visited the Eric Young Orchid foundation in Jersey, UK. While at the Nursery I saw a very large old book “The Orchidaceae of Mexico and Guatemala” It was so impressive!

It is the largest botanical book ever published, illustrating only forty orchids. It was interesting to note how many of those orchids I had already grown and was inspired to track down, collect and grow those forty orchids; I currently have twenty two of them. Although the title would suggest the orchids are limited to two countries, many of them are found across the Central American Isthmus.

Encyclia cordigera photographed in Costa Rica

Why Batemans chose those forty orchids I cannot answer this, but since his selection, many of them have had interesting histories. Once some of those orchids were common in the wild, they have now been plundered, their habitat destroyed and have little opportunity of ever recover. The chance of me ever having all forty of those orchids growing successfully in my collection is slim. Though most of those orchids are now grown and sold through the nurseries they can be challenging keep.

Coilostylis parkinsoniana, I was happy with my old name

Many of the orchid names have changed since the book was written and it is unjust not to use their true identity.

A bit of a mix up!

Oncidium sotoanum, at last I have my own name

One orchid’s name changed just after the plate was engraved. The orchid titled Oncidium ornithorhynchum was misspelt on the plate and given an invalid name. In 2010 the real Oncidium ornithorhynchum was given back its name after Miguel Angel Soto studied the voucher in Paris and uncovered a number of errors. The orchid was given its own name in memory of Miguel Angel Soto Oncidium sotoanum.

Guarainthe Aurantiaca

So much has been written about this book, its author and illustrators, I decided to put together a presentation about the orchid’s history and their cultivation along with my attempt to acquire them.

I am still looking for those I do not have

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