The flowers last only a day and in the wild there is less than a 1% chance of the flowers being pollinated. The plants are self-pollinating and pollination only requires transfer of the pollen from the stamens to the stamens.

In culture, the flowers are manually pollinated in the morning because the natural pollinator, Melipona beechii, a bee species, does not occur outside the area of origin. This is quite labor intensive and explains the high price for vanilla.

Vanilla planifolia needs a humid, tropical climate and will have a hard time outside the warm greenhouse.

Vanilla planifolia is a smooth, little branched liana that clings to the support on which it grows thanks to its fleshy roots. In the wild it can grow to a height of more than 20 m.

It grows from the terminal bud and forms long stems on which the leaves are scattered. The leaves are green, have almost no petiole, are lanceolate and smooth, 8-24 cm long and 2-8 cm wide. The veins are almost invisible.

The flowers smell of vanilla, are green-yellow and have a diameter of 5 cm. They grow in short, screen-shaped clusters.

The fruit is a berry: it is elongated and contains tens of thousands of very small black seeds. The fruit is yellow when ripe. The plant only produces fruit after 2-3 years.

Living environment

Vanilla planifolia grows best in moist tropical rainforest at 600 m above sea level and at an average annual temperature of 27 ° C.