planifolia variegata (Orchidaceae) 


      Variegated vanilla is a climbing orchid native to Mexico, Central America, the West Indies and northern South America.  It clings to trees, shrubs and rocks by its aerial roots, climbing to 50 feet or more.  Of the more than 35,000 species of orchids known, vanilla is the only member of its family which is used commercially as a food product.  Vanilla flowers from May through August, and its fruits are processed to develop the fragrant vanilla "beans" used for flavoring desserts, coffees and liqueurs, and as an exquisite perfume.  Vanilla grows best in a well drained mix with an added support for climbing.  It should be in about 50% shade, and kept moist but not wet.




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