The showy orchid family seems to call for a more brilliant scale of illustration than Lydia Rosier's neat, modest pencil drawings and Martin offers an encyclopedia style routine with the most inviting material (the craze for exotic orchid collecting, vanilla cultivation, etc.) placed last. Martin does best with the technical side of orchids, and her descriptions of plant structure, Darwin's theories of pollination and the methods of modern cultivators are precise but not unduly forbidding. Despite the chapter of instructions for growing orchids and the tales of spectacular or curious varieties, the text demands at least some interest in systematic botany. That self-selected audience will appreciate this factual introduction to an important family which is seldom covered at this level. Adequate.