African Plant Database

Vanilla Mill.
Protologue : Gard. Dict. Abr., ed. 4 (1754)
Status for MA : accepted (present)
Status for SA : accepted (present)
Status for TA : accepted (present)
Ecology and distribution
Trop. Afr.
Biology : “Vanilla plants are represented by two growth forms: green vines with leaves and those without leaves…The vines produce two kinds of roots, short, unbranched, aerial ones (variously termed clasping and anchoring) which clasp the supporting structure…and long, branched, terrestrial or absorbing roots which penetrate the substratum and are…of unlimited extension growth. Both root forms originate at the nodes of the same plant, usually one root at each node” (Stern & Judd, o.c.: 354). Vanillas are monopodial vines with large often bell-shaped flowers. Sepals and petals are free, similar, the lip funnel-shaped; the capsules are linear, often very long, the seeds relatively large and black.
Ecology : Pantropical genus (absent from Australia and Polynesia) with some 110 species: more than half of them occur in the New World (from S Florida, USA, through C. America, the Caribbean to S. America), whereas some 28 species grow in SE Asia from tropical India and the Asian mainland through New Guinea to the SE Asian islands; 7 or 8 are native to Madagascar - the Seychelles. The identity of Vanilla’s natural insect pollinator remains elusive, as does the animal that disperses the fruits and seeds. In cultivation Vanilla species grow easily and rapidly. They do not seem to flower until plants are of a considerable size. Under ideal conditions flowers emerge during the night and must be pollinated before noon if they are to develop into beans. The plants can be easily propagated from stem cuttings.

Bibliography for Tropical Africa :
  • Énum. Pl. Fleurs Afr. Trop. 3: 159 (1995).
  • Énum. Pl. Fleurs Afr. Trop. 4: 649 (1997).
  • Lebrun J.P. & A.L. Stork (2017). Orchidaceae (2) Trop. Afr. Flow. Plants (Ecol. Distr.) 10 (orch.2): 320
More info on :
see under Jstor_African Plant Initiative
see under Catalogue de Madagascar
see under Missouri Botanical Garden
More information >> ( work in progress )
Record n°195783 modified 2008-12-27
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