How much did you know about Vanilla?

And we are not talking about our wonderful cabin! A part from giving its name to one of our Deluxe Cabins, we have several vanilla plants flowering right now at El Remanso Lodge.

The Vanilla plants are members of the orquidaceae family and are mostly epiphytes: aerial plants which get just support from the host tree. There are close to 1.500 orquids species in Costa Rica and over 40 species of native vanilla plants have been identified in the country, several of which can be found in the Osa Peninsula. All of the members of the genus vanilla are native to Mesoamerica and the bean is used worldwide as a flavor, here in Costa Rica it is used to prepare diferent local delicious dishes like cakes, the "flan" and of course the typical rice pudding ("arroz con leche"). 

Interestingly enough, most of the Vanilla that we consume on the planet is grown elsewhere, mainly on the Indian Ocean islands such as Madagascar. It was the Spanish who took the native vanilla beans back home on their firsts expeditions to the Americas. Because of its rather difficult polinization process (without pollination, the blossom wilts and falls, and no vanilla bean can grow) which is very labor intensive, the vanilla spice is the second most expensive spice in the world! With the beginning of the rains in the Osa Peninsula we have seen an increasing number of these beautiful (and tasteful) plants flowering!