Vanilla sp. orchids.
Family Orchidaceae > Subfamily Vanilloideae > Tribe Vanilleae.
There are 110 species of which up to 3 are used commercially to produce vanilla.
The main one is Vanilla planifolia.
A widespread, evergreen, epiphytic orchid that grows as a vine.
The largely unbranched stems are up to 30 m long.
Aerial roots attach them to trees or any support.
The dark green, oblong leaves are alternately arranged along the stem.
Vanilla panifolia’s name comes from its flat leaves.
They are up to 14 cm long, thick and leathery to fleshy.
(Some species have reduced or no leaves.)
Axillary inflorescences have about 20 (100) flowers on short stalks.
They only open for a day.
They are about 3 cm long and can be all white, cream or greenish and some species have coloured lips.
The sepals and lateral petals are similar.
The medial petal or lip has lateral lobes that form a tube around the column.
The long column has the anther at the top, above the stigmatic area and rostellum.
The fruit is a dehiscent capsule up to 30 cm long.
It takes up to 9 months to ripen and release hundreds or thousands of tiny black seeds.