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Pseudovanilla foliata
Pseudovanilla foliata 001 - cropped.jpg
Scientific classification
  • Ledgeria foliata F.Muell.
  • Galeola foliata (F.Muell.) F.Muell.
  • Erythrorchis foliata F.Muell. nom. inval.
  • Galeola altissima F.Muell.
  • Galeola ledgeri F.Muell. ex Fitzg.
  • Galeola vanilloides Schltr.
  • Pseudovanilla vanilloides (Schltr.) Garay

Pseudovanilla foliata, commonly known as the great climbing orchid, is a plant in the orchid family native to Queensland, New South Wales, and New Guinea. It is a terrestrial orchid with a vining vegetative habit, climbing by means of adventitious roots produced at nodes. Its leaves are reduced, and the species is considered to be at least partially mycoheterotrophic.


Pseudovanilla foliata is a terrestrial, perennial, entirely glabrous vine. Its stem may be up to 0.9 cm (0.35 in) in diameter and 15 m (49 ft) in length; it is flexuose and terete, with leaves sparsely interspersed. Adventitious roots, which are thinly elongated and flexuose, extend from the nodes and are always accompanied by an opposite bract, a useful distinguishing feature. The leaves are elliptical, acute or subacute and slightly fleshy, up to 8 cm (3.1 in) in length and 2.5 cm (0.98 in) in width. The inflorescence is lax but highly branching with 4 to 8 flowers at the apex of each offshoot. The rachis is slightly swollen, and the floral bracts are minute and triangular. The sepals are oblong to strap-shaped and obtuse, 2.6 cm (1.0 in) in length and 0.6 cm (0.24 in) in width. The petals are narrow, slightly curved and strap-shaped, and subobtuse, with the mid-vein on outside thickened; they are as long as the sepals and 0.4 cm (0.16 in) wide. The lip, 2.1 cm (0.83 in) in length and 1.6 cm (0.63 in) in width, in outline is broadly elliptic, with the short isthmus adnate to the column. Near the apex it is vaguely 3-lobed with undulate margins; the lateral lobes are bluntly rounded, and the mid-lobe is shaped like a semicircle, indistinctly notched. The surface of the lip is covered with irregular protuberances and in the basal half with rather long obtuse warts. The callus is keeled, with the median keel double, dilated towards the apex, acute, and extending from the base of the lip to the middle. The column, 1 cm (0.39 in) long, is semiterete, slender, and gradually slightly dilated towards the apex; the clinandrium is subcrenulate. The anther is square-hooded and in front slightly notched. The ovary is cylindrical and around 1 cm (0.39 in) long. The seed capsules are 15–25 cm (5.9–9.8 in) long and 4–5 cm (1.6–2.0 in) in diameter. The plant flowers from October to January.

Taxonomy and naming

The great climbing orchid was first formally described in 1861 by Ferdinand von Mueller, who gave it the name Ledgeria foliata and published the description in Fragmenta Phytographiae Australiae. Mueller then renamed it to Galeola foliata in 1873. In 1986, Leslie Andrew Garay published it under its currently accepted name, Pseudovanilla foliata.

Distribution and habitat

Pseudovanilla foliata is found in Queensland as far north as Cape York Peninsula, as well as in the northeast and central east. Its southernmost distribution reaches coastal central New South Wales, and populations also exist in New Guinea. The plant has been found at altitudes ranging from sea level to 1,000 m (3,000 ft) in well-developed lowland and upland rainforest, often growing on live trunks or rotting wood in old stumps, logs, etc.


Pseudovanilla foliata is classified as "least concern" by the Queensland Government in the Nature Conservation Act 1992.

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