This evergreen genus occurs worldwide in tropical and subtropical regions, from tropical America to tropical Asia, New Guinea and West Africa. It was known to the Aztecs for its flavoring qualities. The genus was established in 1754 by Plumier, based on J. Miller. The word vanilla, derived from the diminutive of the Spanish word vaina (vaina itself meaning sheath or pod), simply translates as little pod.
SpeciesThe taxonomy of the genus Vanilla is clear . This is a partial list of species or synonyms:
- Vanilla albida Blume 1823
- Vanilla aphylla Blume – Leafless VanillaVanilla aphylla is a species of vanilla orchid. It is native to Southeast Asia. It is found throughout Southeast Asia including; Laos,Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore. Like all members of the genus Vanilla, V. aphyllum is a vine. It uses its fleshy roots to support itself as it grows.
- Vanilla barbellata Rchb.f 1865– Small Bearded Vanilla, Wormvine Orchid, "snake orchid", "leafless vanilla"
- Vanilla chamissonis Klotzsch 1846 – Chamisso's Vanilla
- Vanilla claviculata (Sw.) Sw. 1799 – Green Withe
- Vanilla dilloniana Correll 1946 – Dillon's Vanilla, "leafless vanilla"
- Vanilla edwallii Hoehne 1941– Edwall's Vanilla
- Vanilla mexicana Mill., Gard. ... Epidendrum vanilla L., Sp. Pl.: 952 (1753). – Mexican Vanilla
- Vanilla odorata C. Presl 1827 – Inflated Vanilla
- Vanilla phaeantha Rchb. f. Trusted– Leafy Vanilla
- Vanilla pilifera Holttum 1951
- Vanilla planifolia Andrews – Flat-leaved Vanilla, Tahitian Vanilla, "West Indian vanilla"
- Vanilla poitaei – Poiteau's Vanilla
- Vanilla pompona Schiede – Pompona Vanilla, Guadeloupe Vanilla, "West Indian vanilla"
- Vanilla siamensis Rolfe ex Downie, Bull. Misc. Inform. Kew. 1925 – Thai Vanilla