Recent literary peeks into the world of orchid lovers illustrate—beyond a reasonable doubt—that they are an extraordinarily odd bunch of people. In this context, even John Laroche—whose harebrained orchid-cloning scheme is the subject of Susan Orlean’s critically acclaimed 1998 book The Orchid Thief: A True Story of Beauty and Obsession—ranks as merely a garden-variety eccentric. Eric Hansen’s Orchid Fever: A Horticultural Tale of Love, Lust, and Lunacy features everyone from shadowy, daredevil smugglers to a hobbyist who laces his greenhouselike home with so many pesticides that he’s slowly killing himself. Then again, this obsession doesn’t come from nowhere: In just one sentence of his description of the “bodice ripper” orchid, Hansen uses the words “protrusion,” “cleavage,” and “lick,” and “head of an engorged penis.” Hear orchid expert Carol Allen discuss “Growing Orchids in Your Home” at 1 p.m. at Behnke Nurseries, 11300 Baltimore Ave., Beltsville. Free. For reservations call (301) 937-1100. (Louis Jacobson)