Vanilla planifolia Jacks. ex Andrews

Commercial Vanilla, Flat Leaved Vanilla

Facts About

Accepted Synonyms: Epidendrum rubrum, Notylia planifolia

Vanilla planifolia, Commercial Vanilla, is native to Mexico, Central America and the West Indies and is the primary source for vanilla flavoring. This orchid has been cultivated for centuries and escaped or naturalized in many areas of the tropics, including south Florida. Vines can exceed 30 m in length with roots and one oblong leaf per node. The inflorescence develops laterally from the leaf axil with short-lived yellowish green flowers lasting less than a day. The tubular lip is striped yellow and deeply fringed at the apex. This orchid may have been introduced into southern Florida through Indian bartering in pre-Columbian times and can be found growing on trees in cypress swamps and hammocks.

The conservation status for Vanilla planifolia has not been reported and this orchid is widely cultivated in Madagascar, Mexico, Tahiti and Indonesia.


This orchid is pollinated by several species of bees including Euglossa viridissima, Eulaema cingulata, Eulaema polychroma, Eulaema meriana and Melipona beecheii.

Ecosystem Type



Leaf arrangement:
  • alternate
  • stem
Number of leaves on stem:
seven or more
Form of the labellum:
the labellum is not pouch-like
Labellum outline:
the labellum is fringed
Main color of labellum:
  • green to brown
  • yellow
Nectar spur:
Inflorescence type:
the inflorescence is a raceme
Labellum characteristics:
  • the labellum is fringed
  • the labellum is lobed
Labellum length:
Up to 40 mm
Sepal length:
35–55 mm
Show All Characteristics

Native to North America


North American Conservation Status & Distribution

Conservation Status

Select a location to view conservation status:

Conservation and Wetland Status
Global Rank N/A
US Status N/A
Canadian Status N/A

North America Distribution

Adapted from USDA data