Vanilla planifolia , Photo: Everglades National Park
Vanilla planifolia Jacks. ex Andrews
Vanilla planifolia is a species of vanilla orchid. It is native to Mexico, and is one of the primary sources for vanilla flavouring, due to its high vanillin content. Common names are Flat-leaved Vanilla, Tahitian Vanilla (for the Pacific stock formerly thought to be a distinct species), and West Indian Vanilla (also used for the Pompona Vanilla, V. pompona). Often, it is simply referred to as "the vanilla". It was first scientifically named in 1808.
Vanilla planifolia is found in Central America and the West Indies. It prefers hot, wet, tropical climates. It is harvested mostly in Mexico and Madagascar.
Like all members of the genus Vanilla, V. planifolia is a vine. It uses its fleshy roots to support itself as it grows.
Fruit is produced only on mature plants, which are generally over 3 m (10 ft) long. The fruits are 15-23 cm (6-9 in) long pods (often incorrectly called beans). They mature after about five months, at which point they are harvested and cured. Curing ferments and dries the pods while minimizing the loss of essential oils. Vanilla extract is obtained from this portion of the plant.
Source: Wikispecies, Wikipedia: All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License