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Vanda sp. Jones ex R.Br. 1820
pronounced: VAN-duh species
(Orchidaceae – the orchid family)
common name: Vanda Orchid
The name Vanda is derived from the Sanskrit name for the species Vanda tessellata. This is regarded as the type species for the genus. Robert Brown first established the genus Vanda in the Botanical Register in 1820 based upon Vanda roxburghii, which is now known to be a later synonym for Vanda tessellata. William Roxburgh had earlier described the same species as Epidendrum tessellatum in Plants of the Coast of Coromandel in 1795. George Don subsequently transferred it to Vanda in Loudon’s Hortus Britannicus in 1830.
These are mostly epiphytic, but sometimes lithophytic or terrestrial orchids that are distributed in India, the Himalayas, South-east Asia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Southern China, New Guinea and northern Australia. They grow up from a single stem, producing leaves and flowers along that stem. The leaves are highly variable, according to habitat. Some have flat, typically broad, ovate leaves (strap leaves), while others have cylindrical (terete), fleshy leaves and are adapted to dry periods. The stems of these orchids vary considerably in size: there are miniature plants, and those with a length of several metres. They have long trailing roots that draw moisture and nutrients from the atmosphere.
They produce few to many flattened flowers growing from a leaf axil. Most show a yellow-brown colour with brown markings, but they also appear in white, green, orange, red and burgundy shades. The lip has a small spur. Vandas usually bloom every few months, and the flowers last for 2 or 3 weeks. There are many size variations, and some of the flowers sport exotic markings or are covered in spots or stripes. Many have a powerful fragrance. Incidentally, the flowers are long-lasting when left on the plant, and not when used as cut flowers.
This genus is one of the 5 most horticulturally important orchid genera, because it has some of the most magnificent flowers to be found in the entire orchid family. This has contributed much to the work of hybridists. Many Vanda orchids are endangered, because of habitat destruction. The export of wild-collected specimens of the Blue Orchid (Vanda caerulea) and other wild Vandas is prohibited world-wide by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species.
Like most tropical orchids, Vanda orchids prefer warm temperatures with plenty of air movement, and, if possible, sunlight. They also like to be cooled by a constant breeze. They also love water, and high humidity. This plant is on a chicken-wire fence in full sun, and it seems to do very well there. The ideal temperature range for this orchid is said to be 15–32ºC. Although they will endure short periods outside this range, longer periods of cold or heat will affect their growth and flowering. In cooler climates they will go into dormancy in winter. This is often a good thing, as in most cases it results in bigger and better flowers.
Photographs taken 2010, Picnic Bay
Page last updated 8th March 2017