Vanilla barbellata

Vanilla barbellata Rchb.f.

Common Names: Vanilla Vine, Worm Vine, Link Vine, Rope Vine

Family: Orchidaceae

Habit: Vanilla barbellata grows as an epiphytic or epilithic vine to 2 cm in diameter, fleshy, photosynthetic, and producing aerial roots at the nodes.  From new growth, small leaves are produced that are quickly dehisced leaving a leafless rope-like vine.

The complete, perfect, zygomorphic flowers are arranged in axillary racemes. The calyx has 3 greenish- yellow unfused sepals.  The corolla has 3 petals of which 2 are sepal-like and the third enlarged to form the labellum that is white with light purple.  The margins of the labellum are enrolled to cover the column. The white column is formed from a fusion of the stamens and ovary into a single structure and is fused along 2/3 of its length to the labellum.  The ovary is inferior and becomes a capsule at maturity up to 8 cm in length.

Habitat: Vanilla barbellata grows in Dry Broadleaf Evergreen Formation – Forest/Woodland/Shrubland (coppice and scrubland) and occasionally in Pine Woodlands.

Distribution: Vanilla barbellata grows in the central island groupings of Lucayan Archipelago, Florida and throughout the Caribbean region.

Medicinal/Cultural/Economic usage: Vanilla barbellata has been used in the Lucayan Archipelago in general strengthening and soothing teas.