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A picture of a Vanilla Orchid

Vanilla Orchid

Vanilla spp.

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Also known as


Vanilla aphylla from Southern Thailand by English Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Moderate care


RHS hardiness


Minimum temperature


More images

Vanilla planifolia (6998639597)
A photo of Vanilla Orchid
Vanilla bahiana - Flickr 003
Vanilla barbellata (14100449408)
Vanilla pompona (Vanillon)

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The genus Vanilla is also known commonly by the name vanilla orchids, it contains over 100 evergreen species in the orchid family, Orchidaceae. These vine-like orchids have a monopodial growth habit, growing upwards from a single point without branching. Over time they form a single long central stem that can reach over 35m in length. Foliage is alternately arranged, leathery and oblong in shape. Some species have fleshy leaves and many plants in this genus have foliage reduced to small, scale-like leaves or have become totally leafless, instead photosynthesising through their green climbing stems. They support themselves through the use of aerial roots and many species are epiphytic. Epiphytic species grow without the need for soil substrate, gleaning nutrition and water from their immediate surroundings. Flowers are big and showy, in a range of colours including white, cream, green, yellow. They are trumpet-shaped with 5 petals and an inner cup structure like that of Narcissus species (daffodils). This genus was established in the year 1754 and the name Vanilla translates to little pod, referencing the 15-23cm long seed pods these species produce. The most well-known species, Vanilla planifolia is utilised commercially to produce vanilla flavourings for culinary and cosmetic use.

Special Features

Attractive flowers