My master degree thesis is about plants discovered by the portuguese so I'll be posting some of my research here , just for fun. My first post is about vanilla. You know why I choose this plant....yes I'm talking to you. :)
Scientific name: Vanilla Planifolia Andr.
Vanilla is originated in the forest of South-East Mexico. By 1677 there were large numbers of vanilla plants in Maranhão, Brazil, which leads one to believe that the species was more widespread or that it had been introduced into Brazil prior to the date. The aromatic pods were brought to Europe where they were very well received, but the plant, although it may have been introduced to other regions, never became economically important until, in the middle of last century, an efficient artificial fertilization technique was developed. We know that the french introduced it to Madagascar and other islands in the Indian Ocean and Gabon. We also know in fairly good detail how vanilla was introduced to S. Tomé from Gabon, in May 1880, and efforts made quickly to discover its most favorable growing conditions. S. Tomé e Principe showed an interest in vanilla, more plants were brought from the same source and cultivation spread, but it never achieved, major economic importance. Cultivation of this plant has now virtually died out.