Vanilla planifolia

Jackson

Bot. Repos.8: plate 538. 1808

Common names: Vanilla commercial vanilla vanilla vine
Synonyms: Myrobroma fragrans Vanilla fragrans
Found in FNA Volume 26. Treatment on page 510. Mentioned on page 507, 508, 509.
Roots usually 1 per node, aerial portions 2–3 mm diam. Stems occasionally branched, leafy, thick, 5–10 mm diam., smooth. Leaves persistent; blade flat, oblong-elliptic to ovate, longer than internodes, 15–25 × 5–8 cm, fleshy-leathery, apex acute to acuminate. Inflorescences axillary, 15-flowered racemes, short-pedunculate, to 5 cm excluding peduncle; floral bracts broadly triangular-ovate, 7–10 × 7–10 cm, leathery. Flowers: sepals and petals erect-spreading, yellow-green, fleshy, rigid; sepals oblanceolate, 3.5–5.5 × 1.1–1.3 cm, margins straight, apex acute to obtuse; petals elliptic-oblanceolate, abaxially keeled, thinner than sepals, 3.5–5.5 × 1.1–1.3 cm, apex acute to obtuse; lip adnate to column for 1.5–2 cm, yellow-green, becoming dark yellow toward apex, lamina gulletlike, cuneate, rhomboid, 4–5 × ± 3 cm, with apical retuse lobule; disc with central tuft of retrorse scales, several lines of short, fleshy hairs extending to apex; column white, slender, 3–3.5 cm, margins slightly sinuate, adaxially bearded; pollinia yellow; pedicellate ovary 3–5 cm. Berries cylindric, 15–25 × 0.8–1 cm.

Phenology: Flowering Apr.
Habitat: Cypress swamps, hammocks
Elevation: 0–20 m

Distribution

Fla., Mexico, West Indies (Trinidad), Central America, n South America.

Discussion

The long, slender black fruits of Vanilla planifolia are the vanilla “beans” of commerce.

The natural distribution of Vanilla planifolia is most likely tropical evergreen forests of eastern Mexico and the Caribbean watersheds of Guatemala, Belize, and Honduras (M. Soto Arenas, pers. comm.). It has been cultivated and escaped or persisted in many areas of the tropics, including south Florida. It is known in the flora area from Long Pine Key, Everglades National Park, Miami, Miami-Dade County, Florida (P. M. Brown 2002).

Pollinators are euglossine bees (J. D. Ackerman 1983), which do not occur in Florida. Natural pollination has been recorded in Florida, although very rarely (C. A. Luer 1972).

References

None.

Facts about "Vanilla planifolia"
AuthorJames D. Ackerman +
Common nameVanilla +, commercial vanilla + and vanilla vine +
Elevation0–20 m +
HabitatCypress swamps, hammocks +
IllustratorBarbara Alongi +
PhenologyFlowering Apr. +
ReferenceNone +
SynonymMyrobroma fragrans + and Vanilla fragrans +
Taxon nameVanilla planifolia +
Taxon parentVanilla +
Taxon rankspecies +
VolumeVolume 26 +