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Overview

Distribution

Distribution: Formerly cultivated in Puerto Rico for the commercial production of vanilla. Today, some of these plantations persist, with some populations naturalized in moist forested areas at middle elevations. Species native to Mexico, but widely cultivated in the tropics. Also on St. Croix, St. John, and St. Thomas.

Public Forests: El Yunque and Maricao.

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Fla.; Mexico; West Indies (Trinidad); Central America; n South America.
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© Missouri Botanical Garden, 4344 Shaw Boulevard, St. Louis, MO, 63110 USA

Source: Missouri Botanical Garden

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Physical Description

Morphology

Description

Roots usually 1 per node, aerial portions 2–3 mm diam. Stems occasionally branched, leafy, thick, 5–10 mm diam., smooth. Leaves persistent; blade flat, oblong-elliptic to ovate, longer than internodes, 15–25 × 5–8 cm, fleshy-leathery, apex acute to acuminate. Inflorescences axillary, 15-flowered racemes, short-pedunculate, to 5 cm excluding peduncle; floral bracts broadly triangular-ovate, 7–10 × 7–10 cm, leathery. Flowers: sepals and petals erect-spreading, yellow-green, fleshy, rigid; sepals oblanceolate, 3.5–5.5 × 1.1–1.3 cm, margins straight, apex acute to obtuse; petals elliptic-oblanceolate, abaxially keeled, thinner than sepals, 3.5–5.5 × 1.1–1.3 cm, apex acute to obtuse; lip adnate to column for 1.5–2 cm, yellow-green, becoming dark yellow toward apex, lamina gulletlike, cuneate, rhomboid, 4–5 × ± 3 cm, with apical retuse lobule; disc with central tuft of retrorse scales, several lines of short, fleshy hairs extending to apex; column white, slender, 3–3.5 cm, margins slightly sinuate, adaxially bearded; pollinia yellow; pedicellate ovary 3–5 cm. Berries cylindric, 15–25 × 0.8–1 cm.
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© Missouri Botanical Garden, 4344 Shaw Boulevard, St. Louis, MO, 63110 USA

Source: Missouri Botanical Garden

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Diagnostic Description

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Synonym

Myrobroma fragrans Salisbury; Vanilla fragrans (Salisbury) Ames
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© Missouri Botanical Garden, 4344 Shaw Boulevard, St. Louis, MO, 63110 USA

Source: Missouri Botanical Garden

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Ecology

Habitat

Cypress swamps, hammocks; 0--20m.
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Life History and Behavior

Cyclicity

Flowering/Fruiting

Flowering Apr.
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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Barcode data: Vanilla planifolia

The following is a representative barcode sequence, the centroid of all available sequences for this species.


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© Barcode of Life Data Systems

Source: Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLD)

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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Vanilla planifolia

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 6
Specimens with Barcodes: 6
Species With Barcodes: 1
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© Barcode of Life Data Systems

Source: Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLD)

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Wikipedia

Vanilla planifolia

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.

Distribution[edit]

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.

Description[edit]

Like all members of the genus Vanilla, V. planifolia is a vine. It uses its fleshy roots to support itself as it grows.

Flowers[edit]

Vanilla planifolia, flower

Flowers are greenish-yellow, with a diameter of 5 cm (2 in). They last only a day, and must be pollinated manually, during the morning, if fruit is desired. The plants are self-fertile, and pollination simply requires a transfer of the pollen from the anther to the stigma. If pollination does not occur, the flower is dropped the next day. In the wild, there is less than 1% chance that the flowers will be pollinated, so in order to receive a steady flow of fruit, the flowers must be hand-pollinated when grown on farms.

Fruit[edit]

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). Outwardly they resemble small bananas. 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.

Chemistry[edit]

The major chemical components from the pods are vanillin, vanillic acid, 4-hydroxybenzaldehyde and 4-hydroxybenzoic acid.[2]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Vanillia planifolia synonyms in Tropicos". 
  2. ^ Reinvestigation of vanillin contents and component ratios of vanilla extracts using high-performance liquid chromatography and gas chromatography. Scharrer A and Mosandl A, Deutsche Lebensmittel-Rundschau, 2001, volume 97, number 12, pages 449-456, INIST:14118840
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Notes

Comments

The long, slender black fruits of Vanilla planifolia are the vanilla “beans” of commerce. The natural distribution of Vanilla planifolia is most likely tropical evergreen forests of eastern Mexico and the Caribbean watersheds of Guatemala, Belize, and Honduras (M. Soto Arenas, pers. comm.). It has been cultivated and escaped or persisted in many areas of the tropics, including south Florida. It is known in the flora area from Long Pine Key, Everglades National Park, Miami, Miami-Dade County, Florida (P. M. Brown 2002). 

 Pollinators are euglossine bees (J. D. Ackerman 1983), which do not occur in Florida. Natural pollination has been recorded in Florida, although very rarely (C. A. Luer 1972).

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© Missouri Botanical Garden, 4344 Shaw Boulevard, St. Louis, MO, 63110 USA

Source: Missouri Botanical Garden

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