a:vanilla beanb: a commercially important extract of the vanilla bean that is prepared by soaking comminuted vanilla beans in water and ethyl alcohol and that is used especially as a flavoring (as in pharmaceutical preparations)
: any of a genus (Vanilla) of tropical American climbing orchids
Any member of a group of tropical climbing orchids that make up the genus Vanilla, and the flavouring agent extracted from its seedpods. The plant has a long, fleshy climbing stem that attaches itself by aerial rootlets to trees; roots also penetrate the soil. Numerous flowers open a few at a time and last only a day. The fruit, a bean pod about 8 in. (20 cm) long at maturity, is harvested as soon as it turns golden green at the base. Curing and processing turn the pods a deep chocolate brown. Vanilla is used in a variety of sweet foods and beverages as well as in perfumery.