AFRICAN

ORCHIDS

Vanilla polylepis Summerh., Bot. Mus. Leafl. 14: 219 (1951).
Heterotypic Synonyms:
Vanilla schliebenii Mansf. ex Schlieb., Gartenflora 86: 42 (1937), nom. subnud.
Description:
Climbing and trailing, leafy liane up to 800 cm long. Roots adventitious arising at nodes, opposite each single leaf. Internodes 8-15 cm long, 0.4—1.2 cm in diameter, fleshy, terete, glabrous. Leaves shortly petiolate; petiole ca. 0.6 cm long, canaliculate, twisted; blade 11-21 cm long, 3-8 cm wide, usually oblong, rarely elliptic-lanceolate, ovate to oblanceolate, with ca. I cm long apiculus, fleshy. Inflorescence 3-5 cm long, densely 10-20-flowered, axillary, unbranched. Flowers rather large, white or greenish-white, lip yellow towards the base. Floral bracts up to 15 mm long, ovate-lanceolate, closely imbricating. Pedicel and ovary up to 6 cm long, narrowly cylindrical, twisted at the base, fleshy. Dorsal sepal 36-63 mm long, 5-20 mm wide, oblanceolate to oblong-lanceolate above the linear basal quarter, subobtuse to subacute, thin, cucullate or subcucullate. Petals up to 63 mm long, 8-16 mm wide, linear-oblanceolate, strongly falcate, acute to subobtuse, with thickening outside along midvein. Lateral sepals up to 59 mm long, 10-17 mm wide, ovate-oblanceolate to oblong-obovate above the linear basal third or quarter, acute, cucullate to subcucullate, thin. Lip 45-60 mm long, 25-30 mm wide when flattened, narrowly conical towards the base, funnel-shaped, more or less cuneiform in general outline, strongly undulate in front, thick, fleshy, indistinctly three-lobed, in the basal half with numerous, fleshy, branched hairs along the thickened mid-vein, with a cluster of branched, rather fleshy scales 2-2.6 mm long in the centre; the middle lobe truncate to shallowly tridentate. Gynostemium 30-45 mm long, erect, joined with the lip below stigma.
Habitat:
Evergreen fringing forests, mushitu, scrubby woodlands by river, trees and rocks in shade. January, August, October.
Cultivation:
As given for the genus.
Distribution:
Angola, the Democratic Republic of Congo (Zaire), Kenya, Zambia, Malawi, Zimbabwe. Alt. 1190-1500 m.
References:
Orchidaceae of West-central Africa, vol. 1, Gdansk University Press Gdansk 2010; La Croix, I. et al. (1991). Orchids of Malawi A.A. Balkema, Rotterdam, La Croix, I. & Cribb, P.J. (1995). Orchidaceae (Part 1) Flora Zambesiaca 11(1)
Images:
Click on each image to see a larger version.

Habitat/In situ  Habitat/In situ  Habitat/In situ  Habitat/In situ  Habitat/In situ Habitat/In situ
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Photograph ©Leo
Klemm. Image used
with kind permission.  
Photograph ©Leo
Klemm. Image used
with kind permission   
Photograph ©Leo
Klemm. Image used
with kind permission.
Photograph ©Leo
Klemm. Image used
with kind permission.
Photograph ©Leo
Klemm. Image used
with kind permission.
Photograph ©Leo
Klemm. Image used
with kind permission.