From Biology-Online Dictionary | Biology-Online Dictionary


1. (Science: botany) A genus of climbing orchidaceous plants natives of tropical America.

2. The long podlike capsules of Vanilla planifolia, and V. Claviculata, remarkable for their delicate and agreeable odour, for the volatile, odouriferous oil extracted from them; also, the flavoring extract made from the capsules, extensively used in confectionery, perfumery, etc.

As a medicine, vanilla is supposed to possess powers analogous to valerian, while, at the same time, it is far more grateful. Cuban vanilla, a sweet-scented west Indian composite shrub (eupatorium Dalea). Vanilla bean, the long capsule of the vanilla plant. Vanilla grass. Same as holy grass, under Holy.

Origin: NL, fr. Sp. Vainilla, dim. Of Sp. Vaina a sheath, a pod, L. Vagina; because its grains, or seeds, are contained in little pods.