The flower of Vanilla roscheri photo taken by Roddy JC Ward
A very attractive orchid that has a widespread range in
eastern tropical Africa, from Kenya, Tanzania and Mozambique with one
officially recorded record from South Africa. The specimens found in South Africa
were found on the shores of Lake Sibaya by Mark Ward in 1983 where herbarium
specimens were collected by him on the 05/02/1983 and again on 01/07/1983 which
were submitted to the Herbarium at the Royal Botanic Gardens by his father
Roddy Ward. I am very fortunate to have been given a live piece of the original
Status in South Africa
Near Threatened* D2 assessed on the 02.09.2005 by L. von Staden and J.E. Victor
Known from one location in South Africa. Potentially
threatened by subsistence agriculture, expanding informal settlements and alien
plant invasion. The national assessment is downgraded from VU to NT as other
subpopulations just across the border in Mozambique could serve as sources of
propagules to South African locations.
This species may be conspecific with Vanilla phalaenopsis
Reichenbach f. from the Seychelles and with Vanilla madagascariensis Rolfe from
Madagascar, if so, Vanilla phalaenopsis would be the correct name.
Vanilla roscheri is a leafless, terete liana-like climber
with green succulent stems up to c. 1 cm in diameter and short roots at the
nodes. Small brownish vestigial leaves up to 3 cm
long are sometimes present at the nodes.
A very distinguishing feature of this species are two shallow channels on each side running the length of the vine between the internodes which are up to 15 cm long.
Here the one of the two shallow channels on each side the
vine of Vanilla roscheri grown in my lounge from the original specimen
discovered and collected by mark Ward
The inflorescence is many-flowered, up to 30 cm long,
terminal or at the nodes. Flowers are large and showy, up to 15 cm in diameter,
white, more or less flushed with pink, strongly and sweetly scented. Lip
funnel-shaped, often salmon-pink or yellowish in the throat. Capsule up to 17.5
Photo of flower of Vanilla
roscheri taken by Roddy JC Ward
Vanilla roscheri are found growing where it is hot and humid
near to the coast in mangrove forest, evergreen scrub, coastal bush and forest,
and in grassy fields with scattered trees at elevations in South Africa 1-100 m,
elsewhere at elevations of 0 up to 1050 meters
Vanilla roscheri which is easy to grow likes to grow at warm
to hot temperatures with high humidity with the lower part of the plant and the
roots in shade, the top of the plant in partial shade to full sun for them to
They require a large pot filled with a very loose well
drained open growing medium with lots of space for climbing. I grow mine in
very coarse sieved well drained leaf mould containing many sticks and partially
decomposed leaves to which can be added some crushed egg or snail shells. It is
essential to add good drainage and airholes on the sides at the base of the pot
or to place the pot on feet. The plants must be allowed to dry out somewhat
before watering. Reduce the watering in the cooler months. They need good air
movement and respond well to misting. They respond well to a regular addition
of a very weak solution of liquid fertiliser. Flush out the pot well with clean
water from time to time to avoid salt build up.
I feed my orchid plants with soluble inorganic fertiliser
used in hydroponics for flower and fruit growth to which I add both humic and
fulvic acid which gives excellent results. I occasionally water my plants with
plant growth stimulants derived from sea weed.
Botanic Gardens at Kew
roscheri Rchb. f.
sand termite mound. Dry woodland-forest, mainly just within margin.
Frequency; Locally common.
Ingwavuma Sibaya lake south west
rooted in litter on sand or pseudo-epiphytic.
Lat and Long:
27 21 S , 32
Duplicate Ex Herbarium: University of Durban-Westville, Natal, South Africa.
Article written by Michael Hickman from data collected from
the websites listed below and from own experience growing this orchid
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