Vanilla sex-Hand pollination in Madagascar

Watch this video, how can we as perfumers help this corner of the world?

Apothecary's Garden

One of the highlights of my recent trip to Madagascar and its Vanilla capital Sambava, was witnessing the hand pollination of (Vanilla planifoliaBourbon Vanilla flowers.

Originally from Mexico and central America, their natural pollinator, a species of Melipona bee,  is nowhere to be found in East Africa and these beautiful flowers will bear no Vanilla beans unless each one is carefully pollinated by hand.

Vanilla sex

The  hidden parts of the very vulvic and seriously sensuous Orchid flower are gently coaxed out, breaking the membrane separating anther and pollen from the stigma. A small flap is lifted and the anther pressed against the stigma while transferring seminal pollen with a sliver of bamboo. The act is completed in a matter of seconds and finished with a kiss of fingers as the flower is pressed firmly to insure full contact and fertilization. Flowers must be pollinated within 12 hours of opening adding a sense of urgency to the process.

Vanilla plants…

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