To meet the Vanilla Matchmakers
Back from Madagascar, 2024
Using a sharp instrument, the "marieuse" (a nickname given to the women who guard the know-how of pollination) gently removes the cap of the vanilla flower, thus exposing the male part. Using the same instrument, the marieuse then lifts the flap that separates the female part from the male part of the flower, and with her fingers, brings the pollen-bearing stamen closer.
Formation of the Vanilla Pod
Did you know?
It was Edmond Albius, a slave from Réunion Island, who discovered the process of vanilla pollination in 1841. At the age of 12, Edmond successfully produced vanilla pods in his master's garden, greatly surprising his master. Prior to this, no one had succeeded in fertilizing vanilla. The young slave then explained the simple and reliable method of manual vanilla pollination. This method was widely adopted by many growers, allowing Réunion Island to start producing and exporting vanilla. In gratitude, the young man was granted his freedom. He then took the name Albius, in reference to the white (alba) color of the orchid.