Monographs Details: Vanilla
Authority: Ackerman, James D. 1995. An orchid flora of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Mem. New York Bot. Gard. 73: 1-203.
Description:Genus Description - Plants monopodial, terrestrial hemiepiphytic vines. Roots gray-green produced at each stem node, slender and glabrous when free, thick and villous on contact with a substrate. Stems scandent, branching, naked, terete, thick, succulent, glabrous. Leaves articulate, distichous, sheathless, fleshy or coriaceous, large and persistent or scale-like and deciduous. Inflorescences on short lateral branches or peduncles, racemes, bracteate, densely flowered. Flowers large, showy, ephemeral, produced in succession, resupinate. Pedicellate ovary articulate at perianth. Sepals free, spreading. Petals free, keeled. Lip adnate to base of column, basally involute, simple or lobed, disc variously ornamented. Column elongate, semiterete, often pubescent below, footless; stigma lobes confluent; rostellum undeveloped; anther terminal, incumbent, versatile; pollinia 4, soft, mealy, composed of monads, lacking accessory structures, when removed as a unit appearing triangular. Fruits elongate, indehiscent leathery berries containing small seeds with a hard seed coat.
Discussion:Vanilla Plumier ex Miller, Gard. Diet. Abr., ed. 4, 3: s.n. 1753. Type species. Vanilla mexicana Miller of the West Indies, Florida (U.S.A.), and Mexico to tropical South America.
A pantropical genus consisting of about 100 species. The generic name is derived from the Spanish word vainilla meaning "little pod" or "capsule," which refers to the long, podlike fruits.