Vanda spathulata (L.) Spreng. 1826 Photos by Prejith Sampath and his Presam's Vanda Haven

Plant and Flowers in situ

Plant and Flowers


Common Name The Spathulate Vanda

Flower Size 1.48" [3.7 cm]

Found in southern India and Sri Lanka in low brush at elevations of sea level to 300 meters as a large sized, hot growing, vine-like, scrambling terrestrial and as such is singular in the genus with long, leafy stems carrying distichous, recurved, coriaceous, reddish green, sometimes spotted on the upper surface, unequally bilobed leaves taht blooms in the spring and again in the fall on axillary to lateral, 12 to 16" [30 to 40 cm] long, erect, green, with 4 acute, papery, sterile bracts, 4 to 5 flowered inflorescence arising from the middle of the stem or below, with broadly ovate, acute, 5 to 7 veined floral bracts.

It's leaves have unequal lobes instead of the bitten off praemorse apex typical of the V tesselata group and the petals and sepals lack the clawed bases of typical Vandas and it blooms either in the fall or in the spring with flowers that may or may not have a scent.

This orchid also has successive flowers that take weeks to open in deference to the other Vandas that all open within a few days. In fact this species approaches Papilionanthe in this habit as well as it's viney growth within bushes. For that reason Christenson proposed the new genus Taprobanea to accomodate this intermediate species between Vanda and Papilionanthe. I have left it as a Vanda until more information becomes available.

At present this species is extremely rare. This was the first Vanda species ever described back in 1703 in the Hortus Indicus Malabaricus as Ponnampou-maravara, then in 1753 Linnaeus named it Epidendrum spathulatum, it did not get it's present name until 1826.

Synonyms Aerides maculata Buch.-Ham. ex Sm. 1818; Cymbidium spathulatum (L.) Moon 1824; *Epidendrum spathulatum L. 1753; Limodorum spathulatum (L.) Willd. 1805; Taprobanea spathulata (L.) Christenson 1992

References W3 Tropicos, Kew Monocot list , IPNI ; AOS Bulletin Vol 32 No 9 1963 photo fide; Encyclopedia of Cultivated Orchids Hawkes 1965; Indian Orchids: A Guide to Identification and Culture Vol 2 Pradhan 1979 drawing fide; A Revised Handbook to the Flora of Ceylon Vol 2 Dassanayake & Fosberg 1981 drawing fide; Orchids of Nilgiris Joseph 1987 drawing fideRudolf Schlechter Die Orchideen Band 1B lieferung 19/20 1129 - 1264 Brieger 1988; AOS Bulletin Vol 61 No 9 1992 postage stamp fide; Vandas Motes 1997 photo fide; Rudolf Schlechter Die Orchideen Band 1C lieferung 42 - 43 pg 2626 - 2762 Brieger 2001 drawing/photo fide; The Orchids of India A Glimpse Misra 2007 as Taprobanea spathulata; AOS Bulletin Vol 88 #8 2019 photo fide;