Vanilla africana Lindl.1862 SUBGENUS Xanata SECTION Tethya

Detail of lip and column


Photos by Vincent Droissart and The Orchidaceae of Central Africa Website


Common Name The African Vanilla

Flower Size

Found in Guinea, Liberia, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Nigeria, Cameroon and Gabon at elevations up to 900 meters as a viney leafy, hot to warm growing terrestrial with a stem with roots arising opposite to each single leaf which are oblong-ellipitc,oblong-ovate to linear-lanceolate, flesc=sh, canaliculate, twisted, shortly petiolate base leaves that blooms mostly in the late winter and spring on a simple to basally branched, 1 to 3.2" [2.5 to 8 cm] long, densely 12 to 40 flowered inflorescence with scale-like triangular, acute floral bracts.

Among the African complex, V. africana is characterized by its oblong-lanceolate, long acuminate leaves, the triangular, broadly rounded side lobes of lip, and the ovate midlobe. It is not always easy to distinguish from poorly flowered localities specimens of V. ramosa.


References W3 Tropicos, Kew Monocot list , IPNI ; Les Orchidees de Cote d'Ivorie Perez-Vera 2003 drawing/photo fide; Orchidaceae of West Central Africa Szatchetko etal 2010 drawing good; Lankesteriana 9(3): 355-398 Soto Arenas & Cribb 2010