This website contains concise information on all 134 genera, and includes a richly illustrated checklist of all taxa currently known to occur in New Guinea, almost 3000 at current count. In addition, a small number of individual species are treated in detail. In this way the diversity of the orchid flora of New Guinea should become apparent. Every effort was made to accurately identify the species illustrated; whenever possible the type material (i.e. the material on which the original description of the species was based) was compared. Inevitably, as there rarely is a perfect match, complete certainty could not be obtained in all cases. Some of the names used here may turn out to be synonyms. Keys and descriptions are original, but it goes without saying that in their construction and in the drawing up of descriptions the works of earlier authors were consulted. Several of the descriptions of the sample species were copied with permission from recent revisions. Rather than paraphrasing and thereby diluting these excellent works we preferred to stick to the original texts.
A heavy dose of botanical terminology is unfortunately inevitable in a work of this kind, especially in descriptions of species and genera, but also in the identification tools. Some 500 terms, not counting synonyms, are included in the Glossary. A list of important publications is given in the Literature module, while there are many additional references in the respective fields of the Higher Taxa and Species modules.
Undoubtedly the main attraction of this website lies in its illustrations, about 2000 in all, and we have been fortunate in being able to obtain permission to reproduce many excellent and unique colour slides. A list of institutes and individuals who have contributed to the CD-ROM series, on which this website is based on, can be found under menu item Contributors.
Most of the slides were edited digitally by one of us (Schuiteman) either by correcting colours, enhancing contrast and sharpness, by cropping, or by removing disturbing elements such as scratches. When certain pictures are still considered to be unsatisfactory it should be realised that several were taken under very difficult circumstances in the jungles of New Guinea.
An extremely important source of illustrations has been the archive of J.J. Smith, preserved at the Nationaal Herbarium Nederland in Leiden, which contains thousands of pencil drawings, almost all on standard sized cardboard cards. These drawings, most by Smith himself, others by Indonesian draughtsmen like Natadipoera and Darmosoediro (in the spelling used in the original sources), were the models for the fine lithographs in the main works by J.J. Smith on New Guinea orchids published in the series Nova Guinea between 1909 and 1935. But the archive also contains many unpublished drawings, often of species that have never been illustrated elsewhere. We have freely tapped from this source, and as a result have been able to illustrate here almost all of the numerous species described by J.J. Smith from New Guinea.
It is sad to report that Smith often used an inferior kind of drawing paper which over the years has become yellow or even brownish and very brittle.
Fortunately, there are computer programmes which, at least on screen, can restore the scanned drawing to something resembling the original just after it was drawn. One such program, Adobe Photoshop, was used for this purpose. Mr. P. Hartog is responsible for about 90% of all the scanning and editing of the J.J. Smith drawings included in this CD-ROM, the remainder were done by one of the authors (A. Schuiteman), who also established the target specifications and procedures.
While the original has the charm of authenticity we considered it to be preferable to edit the drawings in this way for greater clarity. Please note that Smith as a rule did not draw all the separate flower parts seen on a particular drawing to the same scale. We have refrained from adding scale-bars and legends to the drawings, first because of the effort involved, second because this would have made the drawings much less pleasing to look at.
The basis of this website is the work of many contributors to the publication of 6 CDs by the Leiden branch of the Nationaal Herbarium Nederland (NHN), until recently known as the Rijksherbarium, and the Leiden Hortus Botanicus (= botanical garden) are part of the university of Leiden, the oldest university in the Netherlands.
The CDs were developed by The Expert Center for Taxonomic Identification (ETI) is a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) in operational relations with UNESCO. ETI is a not-for-profit electronic publishing house dedicated to improving on a global scale the quantity, quality, and accessibility of taxonomic information.
The CDs are now longer readable by modern computers and so this website has been created, containing every bit of information on the 6 CDs however, with much higher quality images and some 150 new species descriptions.