Botanical name: Vanilla planifolia

Plant Family: Orchidaceae

Part Used: Cured seed pod

Aromatic Notes: Sweet, balsamic

About the Herb:

Vanilla is truly a rare and precious botanical ingredient. Their sweet & inviting ambrosial aroma is a product of meticulous hand pollination in places like Hawai'i (where no native pollinators are present) and a rigorous curing process to enhance & preserve their sought-after properties.

Vanilla orchid flower

Vanilla orchids grow throughout tropical and subtropical regions around the world, and their flowers must be pollinated during the single day in which they bloom. Each blossom is self-fertile, meaning it has all the necessary components to bare fruit, but contains a small membrane between the pollen-containing anther and the stigma to be pollinated. The task of the pollinator ~ whether a orchid bee, hummingbird, or human hand ~ is to remove the membrane, joining the male & female parts of the plant and enabling it to bare fruit.

The native species that pollinate Vanilla are not present in Hawai'i, so each orchid has to be pollinated by hand to yield the treasured harvest. If this labor of love is successful, the plant bares fruit resembling a simple green bean. The fruits must mature on the vine for about 9 months before a curing (drying) process that yields the brown, wrinkly pod we know and love as Vanilla. Watch this short video to see the hand pollination process!

Vanilla Bean on vine

While on La'ie Vanilla farm, our sole source of Vanilla beans, founder Saili shared with us the miraculous phenomenon of a crystallized Vanilla bean. When the fruits are simply left on the vine past maturity, they become so saturated with Vanillin (the compound responsible for Vanilla's signature aroma) that Vanillin crystals begin to form and burst out of the bean. 

Crystallized Vanilla bean

After being cured, Vanilla beans have a moist, leathery feel and characteristic sweet aroma. Each pod houses an immeasurable amount of tiny speckle-sized seeds, which are revealed when the bean is cut open. Vanilla is a calming and widely beloved scent, and adds a harmonious smoothness to just about any formulation. 

Vanilla has a beautifully sweet, comforting aroma, and she also possesses antioxidant & anti-inflammatory properties that calm & preserve the skin. When we infuse La'ie grown whole Vanilla pods into cold pressed oils, the oil slowly takes on her scent & benefits. 

Find this precious botanical in our new Cinnamon Vanilla Lip Oil, a hydrating & glossy lip adornment crafted with 100% Hawai'i grown ingredients. Vanilla also stars in our Seven Seeds Balm for soothing & repairing chapped & raw skin, and to reduce scars, age spots & stretch marks (especially for a growing baby belly). 
La'ie Vanilla Farm
Tags: Vanilla