Seeing Rare Vanilla Pompona In The Wild
Vanilla pompona is native to southern Mexico and northern South America and is not widely cultivated. It is considered rare in the wild and found in fragmented forests in southern Mexico. Vanilla pompona is classified as endangered due to loss of habitat and over-harvesting. It is commercially cultivated in a few places, including Guadeloupe, Brazil, Martinique, Hawaii, and Guyana.
In the wild, vanilla is pollinated by euglossine bees or orchid bees found exclusively in the American tropics. When under cultivation as a commercial crop, all vanilla must be hand-pollinated to ensure reliable pollination.
Vanilla pompona represents a small portion of the global vanilla supply. Vanilla planifolia (Mexican and Madagascar Vanilla) and Vanilla tahitensis (Tahitian Vanilla) lead world production of vanilla, with their well-known aromatics and rich flavors.
With Vanilla pompona being so rare, we have the good fortune of being able to see it in the wild. We were taken to a small patch of Vanilla pompona growing naturally in
the Mexican forests. The vine grows up to 30 feet long, with the vanilla pods typically reaching 10- 15cm and occasionally reaching up to a whopping 30cm long.