Madagascar Vanilla

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The vanilla orchid is native only to Mexico and relies on a rare black Mexican bee to pollinate naturally. In 1841, a French owned 12-year old slave on Île Bourbon (now Réunion Island) discovered how to hand-pollinate vanilla orchids. Shortly thereafter vanilla plantations were introduced and became commonplace on the island of Madagascar.

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The type of vanilla grown on Madagascar and in most other locations is Vanilla planifolia, also known as Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla. About 97% of the world's real vanilla comes from Madagascar. However, an estimated 95% of all vanilla products contains artificial vanilla. The best quality Bourbon Vanilla, also called Black Vanilla, is produced primarily around Antalaha, Sambava, Vohemar and Andapa in the northwest of Madagascar.

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In ancient times, vanilla was said to have aphrodisiac effects and help against fever. Although these properties remain scientifically unverified, it is known that vanilla increases levels of catecholamines, including epinephrine, more commonly known as adrenaline. In an in-vitro test, vanilla was able to block quorom sensing in bacteria. In many bacteria, quorum sensing signals function as a switch for virulence in that microbes only become virulent when these signals indicate that they have the numbers to resist the host immune system response. The essential oils of vanilla and vanillin are often used in aromatherapy.

Documentary on Madagascar's vanilla trade

Madagascar: The Chinese vanilla is a half-hour documentary that gives insight into Madagascar's vanilla production and how the trade is being shaped since recent years by an increase in demand from China.

The original French language version, MADAGASCAR Vanille Chinoise, produced in 2014 by WA Productions in cooperation with Public Sénat, can be viewed at

Google Newsfeed

Yogurtland Offering Rare Madagascar Vanilla - QSR magazine (press release) (registration)
22-Jun-2017 20:24
Vanilla prices not so sweet for Valley bakers - ABC15 Arizona
28-Jun-2017 14:27
The world is running out of cheap vanilla, thanks to climate change and crime - Quartz
31-May-2017 04:33
Vanilla prices soar for cake, ice cream - East Valley Tribune
25-Jun-2017 12:04
Our Love Of 'All Natural' Is Causing A Vanilla Shortage : The Salt ... - NPR
16-Jun-2017 11:32
Our Love Of 'All Natural' Is Causing A Vanilla Shortage | Bay Area ... - KQED
19-Jun-2017 10:18
Vanilla shortage could hit us in the taste buds - Herald-Mail Media
05-Jun-2017 20:27
Madagascar: Early harvest of green vanilla pods impairs the crop's quality - Ecofin Agency: Economic information from Africa
09-Jun-2017 03:03
Taste-Off: Top 4 ice-cream sandwiches — and the yuckiest - The Mercury News
26-Jun-2017 17:00
Ephrata Brewfest gets fruity - Lititz Record Express - Lititz Record Express
28-Jun-2017 12:55

Further information