Vanilla is a succulent, epiphytic orchid. It grows naturally in humid tropical regions in southeast Mexico, Honduras, Guatemala, and Castalia. It is rare in relatives of orchid but Vanilla is a climbing plant, which develops aerial roots at the opposite of the alternative leaves at each node to cling to trunks of trees and expand. The node grows the root system in the ground when it reaches to the ground. The vine is one centimeter in diameter, the node is ten centimeters in length, and the vine grows about ten meters in length. It rarely grows sixty meters in length when it grows long. The leaf is thick, oblong, and is about 10 to 20cm in length.
Vanilla expands a short flower stem where 20 to 30 light-green flowers bloom when the stock grows large. The flower is six centimeters in length and trumpet-shaped. The flower is short-lived, which blooms in the early morning and withers at night. However, it blooms sequentially upwards. Only Stingless honeybees ( Meliponinae spp.) pollinate Vanilla, therefore, Vanilla is usually fructified by artificial pollination.
The fruit is long and thin cylindrical form, such as a sheath of kidney beans, and grows over a period of more than a half year from 15cm to 30cm in length. This fruit is green at the beginning, turns yellow with the growth and becomes lusty purplish-brown in four or five months. There are numerous small, black seeds in the sheath.
The flower of Vanilla smells vaguely sweet but yellowish-green fruit simply smells of grass. The fruit releases the sweet fragrance characteristic of Vanilla, only after the processes of fermentation and drying, called curing. This phenomenon is due to the production of the flavor component, Vanillin, through hydrolysis of glucovanillin contained in the fruit by the enzyme in the fruit. Natural vanilla consists of hundreds of compounds to show characteristic flavor but the main component is this vanillin.
The fruit of Vanilla which has turned black through curing is called vanilla beans and is used as a flavor. Vanilla essence is an alcoholic solution of the fragrance and vanilla oil is fatty solution of the fragrance. Vanillin was synthesized in 1874, making it the other reason why vanilla is expensive therefore now synthetic Vanillin is used for 85 % of vanilla-flavored products.
|Scientific name||Vanilla planifolia|
|Native locality||Mexico and Central America|
|Ecological description||Climbing herbaceous perennial|
|Planting place||Sun Gallery|