Vanilla imperialis Kraenzl. 1896 SUBGENUS Xanata SECTION Tethya

Lip Detail

Plant and Flower

Photos by Danny Lentz ©, plant grown by the Atlanta Botanical Garden


Common Name The Imperial Vanilla

Flower Size 6.4" [16 cm]

Found in Ghana, Ivory Coast, Sierra Leone, Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Zaire, Tanzania, Uganda and Angola at elevations around 900 to 1200 meters as a large sized, warm to cool growing, climbing herb with fleshy, broadly elliptic-oblong to ovate, apiculate to obtuse, dull bluish green, basally clasping leaves that blooms on an axillary, sessile, erect, densely many flowered, unbranched, to 6" [15 cm] long inflorescence with closely imbricating, ovate, obtuse to subacute bracts with successively opening single flowers that last 1 to 2 days.

”This common African species has the most spectacular flowers in the genus, which are big, ivorywhite, heavily veined-blotched with deep rose to purple. The inflorescence has many imbricate bracts, resembling some species of Costus, however, many specimens from East Africa have shorter bracts. It is closely related to V. ochyrae and to V. polylepis (see comments under the species).

Synonyms Vanilla grandifolia var. lujae (De Wild.) Geerinck 1974; Vanilla imperialis var. congolensis De Wild. 1921; Vanilla lujae De Wild. 1904

References W3 Tropicos, Kew Monocot list , IPNI ; Orchids of East Africa Piers 1968 photo good; Flora of Tropical East Africa Orchidaceae Part 2 Cribb 1984; Flore D'Afrique Centrale [Zaire- Rwands - Burundi] Orhidaceae Premeir parte Geerink 1984 drawing fide; The Orchids of Kenya Stewart & Campbell 1996 photo fide; African Orchids in the Wild and Cultivation La Croix 1997; Australian Orchid Review Vol 66 No 4 2001 photo; Les Orchidees de Cote d'Ivorie Perez-Vera 2003 drawing/photo fide; Orchid Digest Vol 72 No 3 2008 photo fide; Lankesteriana 9(3): 355-398 Soto Arenas & Cribb 2010; AOS Bulletin Vol 80 #5 2011 photo fide;