|Botanical name: Vanilla planifolia Andrews
Family name: Orchidaceae
Vanilla, a member of the orchid family, is a contribution of the West to Kerala. It is a climbing monocot with stout and succulent stem and long leaves. The fruit of vanilla known as beans or pods are capsules almost cylindrical in shape and about 20 cm long. Vanilla is considered as the second most expensive spice next to saffron. The high earnings made vanilla a popular crop among spice growers in the state.
The other Indian states that grow vanilla are Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.
Sweetness and natural fragrance make vanilla essential for many culinary preparations such as desserts and cakes. It is used as a flavouring agent in the preparation of ice creams, candies, confectionaries and beverages.