Edmond Albius’s method of pollination is now used by all vanilla growers

In the 1800s, a 12-year-old enslaved boy named Edmond Albius revolutionized the cultivation of vanilla with a simple yet ingenious hand-pollination method. Prior attempts by botanists were unsuccessful, until Albius discovered the delicate process of bringing together the male and female parts of vanilla orchid flowers. Despite facing resistance and racism, Albius’s groundbreaking invention saved the collapsing economy of Réunion and turned vanilla into a lucrative cash crop. Today, his contribution is celebrated in the world of vanilla cultivation, showcasing how innovation can come from unexpected sources. Discover more about this incredible story in the 2023 Plantings print annual. Sign up for our newsletter for more fascinating articles on conservation and plant sciences by Elena Kazamia.


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