Vanda R.Br.

First published in Bot. Reg. 6: t. 506 (1821)
This genus is accepted
The native range of this genus is Tropical & Subtropical Asia to NW. Pacific.



Vanda comprises 74 species collectively distributed from India, Nepal, Bhutan, Burma, Thailand, Indochina, southern China, Taiwan, Japan, Korea, the Philippines, and Indonesia, to New Guinea, northern Australia, and the Solomon Islands. Many species appear to be narrow (island) endemics, with the highest species diversity in the Southeast Asian archipelagos and the Himalayan–Indochinese region.


Schill and Pfeiffer (1977) included four species of Vanda in their pollen survey of Orchidaceae: V. coerulescens Griff., two accessions of V. lilacina Teijsm. & Binn. (one as V. laotica Guillaumin), V. suavis Lindl. (= V. tricolor Lindl. var. suavis (Lindl.) Rchb.f.), and V. stangeana Rchb.f. They also reported on pollen of Ascocentrum ampullaceum (Roxb.) Schltr., A. miniatum (Lindl.) Schltr., and A. micranthum (Reinw. ex Blume) Holttum (= Schoenorchis micrantha Reinw. ex Blume, q.v.). Tetrads were convex with laevigate sculpturing and a calymmate sexine (0.8–2.0 μm thick in Ascocentrum).


Vanda species are usually epiphytes or lithophytes but may also grow as terrestrials and can form large plants with extensive aerial root systems on trees. Plants usually flower when the growing tip of the plant overtops or falls clear of any supporting branch or rock. The thick roots are the primary water storage organs, allowing plants to withstand extensive periods of drought in a semi-dormant condition. In some species the rootscan extend for six or seven metres or more and find sustaining pockets of leaf mould or detritus. Some species will withstand nearly full winter sun in deciduous forests, but all require some shade in summer. Most species occur at elevations of 800–1600 m. Some species such as V. coerulea, V. cristata, V. javierae D.Tiu ex Fessel & Luckel, and V. tricolor var. suavis come from elevations of 2000 metres or more, where subzero temperatures are not uncommon. Others such as V. sanderiana and the wide ranging V. lamellata come from low elevations and in some cases are found in mangrove communities. Species formerly placed in the genus Ascocentrum, such as V. ampullacea (Roxb.) L.M.Gardiner, V. miniata (Lindl.) L.M.Gardiner, and V. garayi (Christenson) L.M.Gardiner, may also be found at lower elevations, from near sea-level.

General Description

(Plates 126–130; Fig. 707.1–707.4) Epiphytic or occasionally lithophytic herbs. Roots usually emerging from nodes near base or lower portion of stem. Stem usually stiffly erect, completely enclosed by distichously arranged persistent leaf-sheaths. Leaves distichous, rigid, usually decurved or held erect, linear or oblong, adaxial surface channelled shallowly to deeply, jointed and sheathing at base, deciduous, apex premorse. Inflorescence axillary, racemose, few- to many-flowered, floral bracts triangular. Flowers resupinate, usually widely opening, exhibiting a wide range of colours and patterning. Sepals and petals free, similar, elliptic-obovate, twisted or undulate, often tessellated, margins often reflexed, often narrowed at base. Labellum usually rigidly attached but occasionally articulate, trilobed, side lobes orbicular to pointed, midlobe simple, deltoid or bilobed to fimbriate, usually shortly spurred but occasionally no spur or with an elongate, nectiferous spur; spur often with thickenings at entrance. Column usually lacking a foot; pollinia two, waxy, spherical, grooved; rostellum shelf-like.




Subedi et al. (2011) reported the use of V. cristata in Nepal to prepare a root paste to treat boils and dislocated bones, a leaf powder as an expectorant, and a leaf paste for cuts and wounds. Roots of V. tessellata were used to treat scorpion stings, bronchitis, and rheumatism, and a leaf paste of this species was used to suppress fever. Similar and additional medicinal uses have been reported for these species from Sri Lanka and India, especially V. tessellata, which, like Rhynchostylis retusa (L.) Blume, is locally known as rasna. Vanda coerulea was also used medicinally in India (Lawler 1984). Many species of Vanda are cultivated, and the genus is the one of the five most horticulturally important in the Orchidaceae. It is widely used in breeding programmes for the cut-flower industry.



  • Aeridinae:

    • All Rights Reserved
  • Herbarium Catalogue Specimens

  • Kew Backbone Distributions

    • The International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Vascular Plants 2024. Published on the Internet at and
    • © Copyright 2023 World Checklist of Vascular Plants.
  • Kew Names and Taxonomic Backbone

    • The International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Vascular Plants 2024. Published on the Internet at and
    • © Copyright 2023 International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Vascular Plants.