Vanilla Mill., Gard. Dict., ed. 6, (1752)
- Genus Myrobroma Salisb., Parad. Lond. (1807) t. 82
- Genus Vanillophorum Neck., Elem. 3 (1790) 134
Monopodial terrestrial climbing plants, sometimes leafless (not in New Guinea). Stem very long, climbing, branching, 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. Pollinia aggregated into a single mealy mass, caudicles absent, stipe absent, viscidium absent.
In New Guinea 7 species, of which 1 escaped from cultivation::
KEY TO THE SPECIES OF THE GENUS VANILLA IN NEW GUINEA
1a. Leaves without petiole, sessile == 2
1 b. Leaves petiolate == 3
2a. Leaves 10-20 by 2.5-3.5 cm, thick fleshy. Inflorescence to 5 cm long. -- Sepals and petals narrow, not overlapping at the base. Lip distinctly 3-lobed, hirsute == Vanilla tahitensis
2b. Leaves 25 by 6 cm, thin (when dry). Infructescence 10 cm long – Sepals and petals not known == Vanilla giulianettii
3a. Leaves 1.5-1.8 by 0.5-0.8 cm == Vanilla utteridgei
3b. Leaves at least 10 by 2.3 cm == 4
4a. Inflorescence branched. Lip distinctly 3-lobed, with a pronounced midlobe == Vanilla ramosa
4b. Inflorescence not branched. Lip not divided in 3 lobes, without pronounced midlobe == 5
5a. Lip in front with irregularly incised margins == Vanilla kempteriana Schltr.
5b. Lip in front with undulate, not incised margins == 6
6a. Leaves 27-35 cm long. Inflorescences to 30 cm long. Sepals c. 4.5 cm long ==Vanilla wariensis Schltr.
6b. Leaves 20-25 cm long. Inflorescences to 20 cm long. Sepals c. 3.3 cm long == Vanilla kaniensis