(pronounced: vah-NIL-lah)


Vanilleae subtribe Vanillinae

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Hemiepiphytic succulent lianas rooting at the nodes. Leaves linear to broadly ovate, sessile, sometimes absent. Inflorescemces axillary racemes, two-ranked or spiral. Flowers showy, ephemeral, fragrant, usually sequentially produced over long periods of time. Sepals and petals free, spreading. usually subsimilar, subequal. Lip unlobed or three-lobed, tubular, +/- callus keels and assorted ornamentation. Column elongate, bent below the apex; pollinia not distinctly divided, soft and paste-like. Fruits fleshy, indehiscent.


From the Spanish vainilla, meaning a little pod, in reference to the slender fruits (“beans”).


A pantropical genus of about 100 species. The taxonomy and exact distribution of Vanilla species is quite confused. This is due to the rarity of finding flowering material in the wild and their notoriously poor preservation as museum specimens due to the

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Bidgood, S. and P. Cribb 1999. Vanilla (Orchidaceae) newly reported from Ethiopia. Kew Bull. 54:378.

Chevalier, A. 1946. La systematique du genre Vanilla et l’amelioration des plantes de vanille. Rev. Bot. Appl. 26:107-111.

Clements, M. A. and D. L. Jones 1996. Vanilla hirsuta (Orchidaceae), a new species from Papua New Guinea. Lasianthera 1(1):46-49.

Correll, D. S. 1946. The American species of “leafless” vanillas. Amer. Orchid Soc. Bull. 15(7):328-333.

Geerinck, D. 1974. Notes taxonomiques sur des orchidacees d’Afrique centrale, I: Vanilla Mill. Bull. Soc. Roy. Bot. Belg. 107:53-60.

Hawkes, A. D. 1950. Studies in Florida botany, 11. The genus Vanilla in Florida. Phytologia 3(5):249-252.

Hermans, C. and J. Hermans 1995. The perfumed isle, Vanilla in Madagascar. Orchid Rev. 103(1204):174-180.

Perrier de la Bathie, H. 1934. Les vanilles de Madagascar. Bull. Mus. Nat. Hist. Paris, ser. 2, 6:192-197.

Rolfe, R. A. 1896. A revision of the genus Vanilla. J. Linn. Soc. Bot. 32:439-478.

Soto Arenas, M. A. 1993. Vanilla odorata, una especie de amplia distribución. Orquidea (Mex.) 13(1-2):295-300.

Ward, M. C. 1984. Vanilla roscheri, first South African recording of Vanilla. S. Afr. Orchid J. 15(2):48.