Reintroducing Vanillas of Perú: Ethnography of Peruvian Vanillas


Annette R. Crymes

University College at Washington University

Saint Louis, MO


“We know to pick it (vanilla) when we smell it in the air.”


The history of vanilla begins with its discovery in Mesoamerica during the 1300s. As a part of Mesoamerica, Perú host native vanillas, not unlike those found in Mexico. Detailed accounts of vanilla and its cultivation and use among the Totonac and from them, the Aztec and the Mayans, are found in many books on vanilla however, not much research has been done on Peruvian vanillas and their potential contribution to this field. While Perú’s culture is a set of beliefs, customs and way of life inherited from the native Inca and Spanish conquistadors and settlers, immigrant groups such as Africans, Japanese, Chinese and Europeans have also contributed to the society, blend of cultures and ways in which Peruvians live today.

The ethnographical focus is the study of local wild Peruvian vanilla and their practical uses through the traditional knowledge of the local culture and people and documents the local customs involving the practical uses of wild Peruvian vanillas plants as food, scent, medicines, and adornments. This research also encompasses the ethnobotany of wild Peruvian vanillas.


Annette R. Crymes received her undergraduate degree in accounting from Saint Louis University, a post-graduate Creative Writing Certificate from University of Missouri-St. Louis (UMSL) and her Masters in International Affairs at University College at Washington University. Crymes is currently pursuing her PhD/is a PhD candidate at University College at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri.