Vanda foetida

Family : Orchidaceae

Text © Pietro Puccio


English translation by Mario Beltramini


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Much decorative, Vanda foetida is an even 1 m tall epiphyte native to Sumatra © Giuseppe Mazza

The species is native to Sumatra where it lives in the humid forests in the southern part of the island.

The name of the genus is that in Sanskrit of the Vanda tessellata; the name of the species is the Latin adjective “foetidus, a, um” = fetid, stinking, with reference to the smell of creosote emitted by the flowers.

Common names : bộ sưu tập phong lan (Vietnamese).

The Vanda foetida J.J.Sm. (1906) is a monopodial epiphytic species with erect stem, up to 0,88-1 m tall and of 1,2 cm of diametre, entirely covered by the imbricate foliar bases, from which depart robust fleshy aerial roots.

The leaves are alternate, distichous, coriaceous, nastriform with irregularly tridented apex, curved, 25-35 cm long and 2,5-3,5 cm broad, of grey-green colour, glossy.

Axillary racemose inflorescences, on an about 8 cm long peduncle, carrying 2-3 fleshy flowers of about 4,5-5,5 cm of diametre with sepals and petals similar, spread, spatulate-orbicular, of more or less intense lilac pink colour. Dorsal sepal about 2,8 cm long and 2,5 cm broad, lateral sepals of the same length and 3 cm broad, petals about 2,7 cm long and broad, trilobed fleshy labellum, 2,7 cm long with erect lateral lobes and pandurate (violin-shaped) median lobe, 1,5 cm broad. It reproduces by seed, in vitro, and micropropagation.

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Inflorescences with 2-3 flowers of about 5 cm of diametre with unpleasant smell as the scientific name suggests © Giuseppe Mazza

Species of great ornamental value in spite of the smell, actually not pleasant, emitted by its flowers, requires a very luminous exposition, even some hours of direct sun in the morning, high temperatures in summer, 25-32 °C, sllightly cooler in winter, with lowest night values not under the 15 °C, high humidity, 70-85%, and air constantly in slight movement.

Daily abundant waterings and nebuli- zation of the roots in summer, in particular for the plants with bare root, but without stagnations, more spaced in winter, using rainwater, demineralized or by reverse osmosis at ambient temperature.

Biweekly fertilizations from late spring to early autumn, then monthly, utilizing a balanced product, with microelements, specific for orchids, at ½ – ¼ of the dosage suggested on the package.

It can be mounted on branches, bark, rafts of cork or of arborescent ferns or cultivated in pots provided of excellent draining, with compost that can be formed by medium-large sliced bark fragments and charcoal, or preferably in baskets, in order to allow the roots to freely grow, even without any substratum. The repottings are to be done when strictly necessary, due to the delicacy of the roots, by the time of the vegetative restart.

The species is shown in the appendix II of the CITES (species whose trade is internationally ruled).


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