Genus Vanilla

Vanilla Mill.,
Gard. Dict. ed. 6, (1752)

Monopodial terrestrial climbing plants, sometimes leafless. Stem much elongated, climbing, green, with a root opposite each leaf (if present). Leaves many, not sheathing at the base, glabrous, persistent, convolute, very fleshy. Inflorescence lateral, a few- to many-flowered raceme or a panicle. Flowers medium-sized to rather large, resupinate, ephemeral, often greenish. Sepals free. Petals free, intermediate in shape between the lateral sepals and the dorsal sepal. Lip without spur, adnate to the column, often hairy inside. Column-foot absent. Pollen aggregated into a single mealy mass, caudicles absent, stipe absent, viscidium absent.

World wide tropics; about 100 species.

Distribution in the Philippines
Calayan, Luzon (Ilocos Norte, Isabela, Bulacan, Rizal, Laguna, Quezon, Tayabas, Sorsogon), Sibuyan, Biliran, Mindoro, Samar, Mindanao (Zamboanga, Lanao, Misamis, Agusan); 2 species.

Climbing on trees and shrubs in the lowlands and in the mountains, especially on the edge of clearings.

Vanilla is easy to recognise by the green climbing stems with a thick root and a sheathless fleshy leaf at each node, or sometimes with a green scale instead of a leaf. The flowers are rather attractive, but short-lived. The fermented fruits of certain cultivated species are a source of the well-known vanilla flavouring.