From Science Daily: Tahitian Vanilla Originated In Maya Forests, Says Botanist.
The origin of the Tahitian vanilla orchid, whose cured fruit is the source of the rare and highly esteemed gourmet French Polynesian spice, has long eluded botanists. Known by the scientific name Vanilla tahitensis, Tahitian vanilla is found to exist only in cultivation; natural, wild populations of the orchid have never been encountered.
Now, a team of investigators led by Pesach Lubinsky, a postdoctoral researcher with Norman Ellstrand, a professor of genetics in UC Riverside’s Department of Botany and Plant Sciences, claims to have traced Tahitian vanilla back to its true origins. [continue]
I kept waiting for a reference to the Kon Tiki expedition and the ethnomigration theory of Thor Heyerdahl. They didn’t appear to try to account for the manner of transport of the vanilla plant from S.America to the Pacific. Or maybe I’m dumb.