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February 10, 1991|MIKE WARD

Even people who don't know a cattleya from a cymbidium may turn into orchid fanciers today in San Marino.

The Huntington Library Art Collections and Botanical Gardens on Friday launched an orchid extravaganza that will continue through March 10.

In the library's exhibition hall is "Orchids: A Victorian Passion," featuring orchid illustrations ranging from 20th-Century scientific drawings to Francisco Hernandez's natural history of Mexico, published in Spain in 1651.

The exhibit also includes an 1837 book by horticulturist James Bateman that features 40 hand-tinted color plates of the

orchids of Mexico and Guatemala and a set of folio-sized books titled "Reichenbachia" that appeared at the end of the 19th Century.

Live orchids in bloom from the botanical gardens will be displayed with the books and artwork.

James Folsom, director of the botanical gardens, will give a talk on the exhibition at 1 p.m. Thursday.

The Huntington, 1151 Oxford Road, San Marino, is open from 1 to 4:30 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. A donation of $5 for adults is suggested.

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