The vanilla flavor in food and drinks turns out to be from a type of orchid plant. Let’s find out more about this plant!
- Vanilla (Vanilla planifolia) is an orchid plant native to South America, Central America, and the Caribbean. This plant was first cultivated by the Totonac people in Mexico.
- This plant is the only type of orchid that is cultivated and used as food.
- Vanilla plants live in tropical climates with hot and humid weather.
- This plants take two to four years to mature, before finally producing flowers and fruit.
- Vanilla flowers are a bunch of flowers. In one stalk there are 15-20 flowers.
- The color of the vanilla flower is yellowish green and the smell is fragrant. 4 – 8 cm long and up to 5 cm in diameter.
- Vanilla flowers only bloom for one day.
- The vanilla flower is a perfect flower, which has stamens and pistils in one flower. However, the two organs are separate so this flower cannot self-pollinate.
- In their natural habitat, pollination of vanilla orchid flowers can only be done by melipona bees. However, for cultivated flowers, pollination is assisted by humans.
- In order for vanilla flowers to produce fruit, pollination must occur in the morning.
- In the wild, less than 1% of vanilla orchid flowers produce fruit.
- Vanilla fruit is an elongated pod with a size of about 15 cm. Green in color but turns brown when ripe. This fruit is filled with small seeds.
- Vanilla fruit takes 5 to 6 months to ripen.
- Vanilla extract is obtained from every part of the fruit, from the skin to the seeds.
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