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Phalaenopsis: A Monograph

By Eric Christenson

Without a doubt, the most widely grown orchids in the world are the species and hybrids of Phalaenopsis, the "moth orchids." Since their discovery by western botanists in the 18th century, phalaenopsis were considered aristocrats even among orchids and were eagerly sought out by the most discerning — and wealthy — of collectors. With advances in orchid propagation and breeding in the middle 20th century, however, these orchids became accessible and affordable to anyone with an eye for exceptional beauty. Few floriculture crops have swamped the marketplace as suddenly as phalaenopsis has in recent years, with millions of plants being produced for the mass market annually. Moth orchids have helped eliminate the misconception of orchids as temperamental conservatory plants only for the very rich. In the words of author Eric Christenson, we are witnessing "the makings of an orchid revolution."

Against this backdrop of change and ferment, Christenson set out to write a definitive monograph of the genus Phalaenopsis, the first thorough treatment since Herman Sweet's revision in 1969. Focusing mainly on the forebears of today's omnipresent hybrids — the species — he always keeps an eye on the characteristics that species might bring to today's hybridization programs. With extensive keys and detailed reviews of the taxonomy of the genus, Christenson provides a thorough picture of the current scientific understanding of these remarkable plants.

In addition to its scientific content, this book offers a wealth of practical information for the orchid hobbyist. A useful chapter on cultivation techniques is included, as is a chapter on hybrids in their many forms, shapes, and colors. More than 200 color photos and 60 drawings enliven the work and provide a fascinating visual overview.

With the full sponsorship and support of the International Phalaenopsis Alliance, Christenson has written an extraordinary book reflecting years of botanical research and horticultural experience with the genus. No orchid specialist will want to be without it.

Media reviews

"Research taxonomist Christenson offers a scientific understanding of these plants as well as hybridization and cultural tips."

Library Journal

"This complete work on Phalaenopsis is an essential reference, offering keys to the species, descriptions of each, taxonomic notes, and hybridization and conservation."


"Congratulations, Eric, for a job well done."

—Yoneo Sagawa, Hawaii Orchid Journal

"Eric Christenson has written an extraordinary book reflecting years of botanical research and almost 30 years of horticultural experience with the genus. No orchid specialist will want to be without it."

Biology Digest

"Eric has sculpted a very fine book that will be the bible for species growers for decades to come. ... It was worth the wait and I recommend it most highly."

—Harold Koopowitz, Orchid Digest

"Phalaenopsis: A Monograph is an essential addition to the libraries of hobbyists, commercial growers, judges, Affiliated Societies, and anyone with an interest in this genus of Old World orchids."

American Orchid Society BookShop

"The first thorough update of the genus since Herman Sweet's revision in 1969."

Plant Talk

"A long–needed revision of the genus Phalaenopsis ... Highly recommended."


"[The author's] definitive work promises to enlighten aficionados ... A wealth of stimulating data to assist in the cultivation of these distinctive plants."


"Orchid scientists and growers alike will want to own a copy of Eric Christenson's new monograph of Phalaenopsis."

—Kenneth M. Cameron, Brittonia

"A book that stands on its own merits, with no need of validation from any source ... Phalaenopsis enthusiasts will want it as the latest and greatest on their favorite plants, while others will find it an indispensable guide and resource to the world's most widely grown orchid plants."

—Ned Nash, Orchids

"The author draws on his extensive botanical research and almost 30 years of growing this genus. His love for these plants is evident throughout this book."

—Eileen Herring, Hawaii Horticulture

"An important book for anyone who takes a serious interest in growing this colorful, adaptable, long living plant which flowers reliably in winter months."

—Jack Webster, Orchidacea

About the author

Eric Christenson

Eric A. Christenson was a research taxonomist with strong interests in the Aeridinae (Sarcanthinae), neotropical floristics, and the conservation of horticultural plants. He did field work in Peru, Guyana, and French Guiana and authored the orchid treatment for the Vascular Flora of Central French Guiana. A prolific author of more than 300 publications, Dr. Christenson attempted to bridge the gap between taxonomy and horticulture, and was a strong advocate for orchid conservation, particularly ex situ propagation. He died in 2011.

Read more about Eric Christenson

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