Jordan Berger
  1. The Orchid Theif by Susan Orleans
This book is a true account, in a literary style of Susan Orleans' "research" of the world of the orchid-obsessed. In Florida, there is a man who becomes temporarily and completely consumed by one interest. From deciding "his life wasn't worth living unless he could collect one if every single turtle species known to mankind," to collecting and resilvering old mirrors, John Laroche is incredibly and uniquely brilliant, extremely corrupt, and lives with his father. After discovering orchids, he became obsessed with profiting from their sale. Eventually, he was arrested for trespassing on the Fakahatchee Strand State Preserve, and found with bags if rare orchids he planned to clone and sell. As Orleans gets to know Laroche further, she begins to discover the whole world behind orchid's production, sale, and society. The people who grow and collect orchids seem to be addicted to these plants, and tend carefully to their precious flowers. Orchids are extremely picky in reproduction, but are so "irresistible" and beautiful to humans and insects alike that they have become the most diversified flowering plant in the environment. Bob Fuchs of R.F. Orchids suports his geandfather's plants that were found at the turn of the century, and the New York Botanical Garden has orchids that have been living there since 1898. Orleans' discovery of the orchid lover's world is an interesting and informative nonfiction book that captures both the madness of the orchid growers, and of Laroche's quick obessions.
I would suggest that others read this book. It touches o n a variety of different topics, that are interestingly related. The connection between the Seminole Indians, their history, their present life in Florida, and their relationship with the environment is displayed through Laroche's friendship with the local Seminole (3 of whom helped him steal the orchids off the state land). It shows the severity of poaching these plants, as it touches on international black markets for these flowers, and Laroche's trial in Florida. It also shows the protection and ethics of state land, and the restrictions of the Fakahatchee Preserve, and the temporary mania that Lacroche has for his different interests. I really enjoyed the book, and although it was odd to read so much about flowers, and see how attached eople could become to an orchid, it opened up my view on how important and personal such small aspects of the environment can be to all of us.

They talked about this, the "moon flower" in the book. It is an orchid that is extremely rare, and only blooms for one night, for ten hours in the darkness.

Moon Flower
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