Enjoy these colorful border stamps from the Republic of Madagascar…the stamps are one way Madagascar recognizes its unique biodiversity.
Did you know that ‘vanilla beans’ are the dried fruit pods of a certain species of orchids? Originally from Mexico, the species Vanilla planifolia is now cultivated in several places including Madagascar. World wide cultivation became possible in 1841. Before 1841, vanilla orchids were only successfully pollinated by a local species of the Melipona bee. In 1841 a 12-year-old boy on Reunion Island developed the process allowing the orchids to be pollinated by hand. The fruit, commonly called vanilla beans, need 5 months to mature, then they are harvested by hand and dried. The drying and fermentation produces the distinctive flavor. Today, two varieties of vanilla orchid are grown in Madagascar. A particular variety of the spice is sometimes referred to as ‘Bourbon Vanilla.’ Reunion Island was called ‘Ile Bourbon’ at the time the hand pollination technique was successfully implemented.
Some unique products produced in Madagascar, like organic vanilla, are available in the Lemur Conservation Foundation’s ‘Malagasy Lemur shop.’ Shop online at http://www.lemurreserve.org/lcfshop.html