Vanilla polylepis Summerh.

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Vanilla polylepis

Photo: Bart Wursten

Vanilla polylepis

Photo: Bart Wursten

Vanilla polylepis

Photo: Bart Wursten

Vanilla polylepis

Photo: Bart Wursten

Detailed records: Display species records QDS maps by: Google Maps Point records by Google Maps

Species details: Click on each item to see an explanation of that item (Note: opens a new window)

Common names:
Frequency: Local
Status: Native
Vigorous climber, up to 9 m. It is listed as Endangered. Plants start their lives as terrestrials but soon climb along trunks and boulders, rooting at the nodes. The long succulent stems are obscurely squared. Leaves alternate along the stems, dark green, broadly elliptic, sharply pointed, thick and fleshy. Inflorescences terminal on the main stems or on short side branches, many-flowered with only 1 to 3 flowers open at a time. Flowers large and showy, greenish-white, faintly vanilla scented. Lip pale orange-yellow on the inside, deep purple at the apex.
Notes: This species has a very localised and fragmented distribution and is never common.
Derivation of specific name:
Habitat: In forested ravines and riverine forest.
Altitude range: (metres) 1200 - 1500 m
Flowering time:Nov
Worldwide distribution: East Africa south to Angola and Zimbabwe
Zimbabwe distribution: E
Growth form(s): Climber.
Endemic status:
Red data list status: Endangered
Insects associated with this species:
Spot characters: Display spot characters for this species
Images last updated: Friday 10 February 2006

Ball, J.S. (1978). Southern African Epiphytic Orchids. Conservation Press, Johannesburg. Pages 234 - 235. (Includes a picture).

Chapano, C. & Mamuto, M. (2003). Plants of the Chimanimani District National Herbarium and Botanic Garden, Zimbabwe Page 57.

Fibeck, W. & Dare, M. (1993). Terrestrial Orchids in Zimbabwe. Excelsa 16 Page 71.

Golding, J.S. (ed.) (2002). Zimbabwe Plant Red Data List. Southern African Plant Red Data Lists. SABONET 14 Page 168.

Grosvenor, R.K. (1976). A list of orchids indigenous in Rhodesia. Excelsa 6 Page 86.

Hunt, P.F. (1974). African orchids XXXIII Kew Bulletin 29(2) Pages 425 - 426.

Kimberley, M.J. (2003). A List of Epiphytic Orchids of Zimbabwe Excelsa 20 Page 52.

La Croix, I. & Cribb, P.J. (1995). Orchidaceae (Part 1) Flora Zambesiaca 11(1) Pages 248 - 249. (Includes a picture).

La Croix, I. et al. (1983). Malawi Orchids Volume 1 Epiphytic Orchids National Fauna Preservation Society of Malawi Pages 142 - 144. (Includes a picture).

La Croix, I. et al. (1991). Orchids of Malawi A.A. Balkema, Rotterdam Page 162. (Includes a picture).

Mapaura, A. & Timberlake, J. (eds) (2004). A checklist of Zimbabwean vascular plants Southern African Botanical Diversity Network Report No. 33 Sabonet, Pretoria and Harare Page 98.

Morris, B. (1970). Epiphytic Orchids of Malawi The Society of Malawi Page 35.

Phiri, P.S.M. (2005). A Checklist of Zambian Vascular Plants Southern African Botanical Diversity Network Report No. 32 Page 125.

Stewart, J. & Campbell, B. (1996). Orchids of Kenya Timber Press Inc, Portland Oregon, USA ISBN0-88192-357-5 Pages 89 - 90. (Includes a picture).

White, F. (1962). Forest Flora of Northern Rhodesia Oxford Univ. Press. Page 18.

White, F., Dowsett-Lemaire, F. & Chapman, J.D. (2001). Evergreen forest flora of Malawi Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew Page 105.

Williamson, G. (1977). The Orchids of South Central Africa J.M. Dent & Sons Ltd., London. Pages 145 - 146. (Includes a picture).

Wursten, B., Timberlake, J. & Darbyshire, I. (2017). The Chimanimani Mountains: an updated checklist. Kirkia 19(1) Page 85.

Other sources of information about Vanilla polylepis:

Our websites:

Flora of Malawi: Vanilla polylepis
Flora of Zambia: Vanilla polylepis

External websites:

African Plants: A Photo Guide (Senckenberg): Vanilla polylepis
African Plant Database: Vanilla polylepis
BHL (Biodiversity Heritage Library): Vanilla polylepis
EOL (Encyclopedia of Life): Vanilla polylepis
GBIF (Global Biodiversity Information Facility): Vanilla polylepis
Google: Web - Images - Scholar
iNaturalist: Vanilla polylepis
IPNI (International Plant Names Index): Vanilla polylepis
JSTOR Plant Science: Vanilla polylepis
Mansfeld World Database of Agricultural and Horticultural Crops: Vanilla polylepis
Plants of the World Online: Vanilla polylepis
Tropicos: Vanilla polylepis
Wikipedia: Vanilla polylepis

Copyright: Mark Hyde, Bart Wursten, Petra Ballings and Meg Coates Palgrave, 2002-24

Hyde, M.A., Wursten, B.T., Ballings, P. & Coates Palgrave, M. (2024). Flora of Zimbabwe: Species information: Vanilla polylepis., retrieved 24 June 2024

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