Vanilla is a tall, climbing plant, with thick, oblong-lanceolate leaves, belonging to the orchid family. Vanilla is native to the American tropics, but is now grown in most tropical areas. The vines are trained on supports. The spice is obtained from the pods, which are harvested while immature, and dried. The vanillin crystallizes on the surface of the pods. Importance of natural vanilla for flavoring foods has decreased greatly, due to development of a far cheaper synthetic product.