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Vanilla dilloniana Correll
Leafless vanilla, Mrs. Lott''s vanilla
South Florida Status: Historical. Last collected in 1944 in Everglades National Park.
Taxonomy: Monocotyledon; Orchidaceae.
Habit: Perennial vine.
Distribution: Native to South Florida and the West Indies.
South Florida Distribution: Miami-Dade County and the Monroe County mainland.
South Florida Habitats: Rockland hammocks and coastal berms.
Protection Status: Listed as endangered by FDACS.
Aids to Identification: Luer (1972) has illustrations and color photos; the IRC Website has a color photo.
References: Correll, 1946; Correll, 1950; Luer, 1972; Long & Lakela, 1976; Wunderlin, 1998; Coile, 2000; Liogier & Martorell, 2000.
Synonyms: V. eggersii Rolfe, misapplied.
Historical Context: Alvah A. Eaton first collected Mrs. Lott’s vanilla in 1903 in Brickell Hammock (s.n., AMES), near present-day downtown Miami, and at Madeira Hammock (Ames, 1904a), near Flamingo in what is now Everglades National Park. Eaton made another collection in 1904 from Brickell Hammock (971, AMES). John Kunkel Small also made a collection in 1904 from Miami (2310, NY), presumably from Brickell Hammock. Mrs. Lott’s vanilla was collected again in Brickell Hammock in 1905 by P. & P. St. Rolfs (s.n., NY), in 1906 by Small and Joel J. Carter (2568, NY), in 1911 by Small and others (s.n., NY), and in 1913 by Small and Carter (4636, NY). R.H. Humes made a collection of material from Brickell Hammock (s.n., AMES), which was used by Donovan S. Correll in 1946 as the type specimen for the species (Correll, 1946). According to Luer (1972), the specimen used as the type was material originally collected from Brickell Hammock in 1928.
Eaton’s Madeira Hammock collection would have been made to the east of Flamingo in what is now Everglades National Park. Small also made a collection from Madeira Hammock in 1916 (8048, NY), and Humes made a collection in 1944 in “Monroe County, Cape Sable region” (Correll, 1946), which would have been to the west of Madeira Hammock. It has not been collected there since.
Germplasm of plants collected from Brickell Hammock is maintained in cultivation (Hammer, 2001).
Comments: Vanilla dilloniana closely resembles both V. barbellata of South Florida and V. claviculata of the West Indies. Both specimens from Everglades National Park are sterile, and may not actually represent V. dilloniana. It is possible that some plants remain in Everglades National Park, but flowering material would be necessary to make a positive determination. Strangely, Donovan S. Correll (1950) regarded this species as “common” in South Florida.
Recommendations: • Survey hammocks along the northern shore of Florida Bay in Everglades National Park. • If plants are found, map and monitor known populations. • If plants are found, consider establishing an ex situ collection of germplasm. • Consider reintroduction to Brickell Hammock at Alice Wainwright Park, Simpson Park, and Vizcaya Museum and Gardens. • Review for listing by FNAI.
Gann, G.D., K.A. Bradley and S.W. Woodmansee. 2001-2013.