Vanilla somai Hayata
Stems to 3 m long, ca. 1 cm in diam., ascending or pendulous from substrate, fleshy, nodose, internodes 5-10 cm long. Leaves alternate, elliptic-lanceolate, 15-20 cm long, 4-8 cm wide, apex acuminate, obtuse-rounded at base, thickly fleshy and coriaceous, glabrous on both surfaces, with more or less conspicuous reticulate veins; petiole short, slightly embracing stem. Inflorescence shorter than leaf, usually with 2 to 5 flowers; bracts triangular, 7-10 mm long; pedicel and ovary 3-4 cm long. Flowers whitish or tinged with pale green, 5-6 cm in diam.; sepals subequal, oblanceolate, 3.5-4 cm long, 1 cm wide, spreading and recurved; petals similar to sepals, slightly oblique; lip pale green and tinged with pink outside, with many red stripes inside, curved near base and connate with lower sides of column for 3/5 of its length, whole structure becoming trumpet-shaped, 3.5-4 cm long, 1.5-2 cm wide when expanded on free upper part, obscurely 3-lobed, free portion undulate on front margins, with many papillae arranged in 2 or 3 rows near apex, dics with white brush-like appendage composed of many flabellate and laciniate pieces; column subterete, ca. 2.5 cm long, with small wings on front top sides, connate with basal sides of lip for 4/5 of its length; anther fleshy, 3 mm long, solid above, 2-celled at base; pollinia ovate, 1.2 mm long; stigma transversely slit-like; rostellum square, curved downwards and covering stigma. Fruits curved cylindrical, more or less 3-ridged, ca. 10 cm long. Seeds ovoid or globose, ca. 1.5 mm in diam.
TAIPEI: N. Chiatienshan, Su 509; Suanchi, Su 407. TAOYUEN: Kueihuei, Su 8826. MIAOLI: Nanchuang, Su 621. NANTOU: Hoshe, Su 583*. KAOHSIUNG: Liukuei, Su s. n. Sep 1969. HUALIEN: Longchien, Su 9289; Fonglin, Su s. n. Jun 1970. TAITUNG: Hsinkangshan, Su 7731.
Malaysia, Thailand and Indochina. Taiwan, broadleaved evergreen forests in lowlands and foothills below 1200 m.
Taiwan plants were previously misidentified as Vanilla griffithii, a species similar in general habit, but it can be distinguished by the shape of the lip and by the woolly ball instead of a brush-like appendage on the disc. This distinction was noted by Seidenfaden (1978), who also pointed out the similarity of the Taiwan species to V. albida. According to our observations of many fresh materials in Taiwan, we concluded that the Taiwan species can be regarded as identical with V. albida in the shape of the lip, the appendages on the lip, and in the length of the fused portion between the column and lip (as indicated in the description above).