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Tracing Tahitian vanilla

The rich, sweet orchid has parents from Central America

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9:17am, July 18, 2008

Scientists have ascertained the pedigree of Tahitian vanilla, the orchid whose rarity and rich, sweet flavor distinguishes it from the widely used commercial vanilla. The discovery of the plant’s heritage could set off a custody battle between nations, researchers say.

The new analysis, reported in the August American Journal of Botany, places Tahitian vanilla’s origin in Central America, although today the plant is grown only in French Polynesia and do

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