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A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Tuesday - November 27, 2007

From: Lares, Puerto Rico, Other
Region: Other
Topic: Vines
Title: Information about the wormvine orchid, Vanilla barbellata
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

Hi My name is Santiago I'm from Puerto Rico and discover this Vanilla orchid in the forest, this orchid is V. barbellata var. alba? You have some information of how identify the V. barbellata and the respectives varietys. note: for the picture contact by e-mail. Thanks Santiago

ANSWER:

Vanilla barbellata (wormvine orchid) is native to Florida, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and other islands of the Caribbean. I haven't been able to find any information about or descriptions of the different varieties of this orchid but I can guide you to several sources with keys and extensive descriptions of V. barbellata.

1. You can find a description of Vanilla barbellata in eFloras.com.

2. You can find a key to the Genus Vanilla by searching the "Key to Families" on the Flora of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands page sponsored by the National Museum of Natural History and the Smithsonian Institution.

3. You can also download a PDF file (~16 MB) of "Vines and Climbing Plants of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands" by P. Acevedo-Rodriguez that has an extensive description as well as detailed line drawings for V. barbellata and other related species.

4. You can see some excellent photographs and read descriptions on two web sites: Florida Keys and Native Orchids of South Florida. The author and photographer of the latter site has a link to his e-mail address. You might contact him to see if he has information about varieties of this orchid.

5. The New York Botanical Garden publishes An Orchid Flora of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands by James D. Ackerman (1995) that can be purchased from the NY Botanical Garden or that you might find in your local library.

6. Finally, since the New York Botanical Garden lists V. barbellata as endangered in Puerto Rico, you might want to be cautious about telling only reputable researchers, not collectors, about the exact location of the specimen you found.

 

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