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28 POLITICAL ESSAY ON THE [noon xv.

Misantla, were struck with the excellence
of that brought by M. Boupland from the
Orinoco, gathered by us in the woods which
surround the Raudal de Maypure. Vanilla
plants are to be found in the Island of Cuba,
(Epidendrum Vanilla) on the coast of Bahia,
Honda, and at Mariel. That of St. Domingo
has a very long fruit, but is not very odori-
ferous; for frequently great humidity, while
it is favourable to the vegetation, is unfavour-
able to the developement of the aromatic.
However, botanical travellers must not judge
of the quality of the vanilla, from, the odour
which it gives out in the forests of America,
for this odour is in a great measure owing to the
flower, which in the deep and humid _vallies of
the Andes, is sometimes four or five centimetres
length.*

,,,The author of the Philosophical History of
tke,East and West Indies ’r, complains of being
unable .to - procure satisfactory information re-
spectimg the cultivation of the vanilla in Mexico.
He did not‘ even know the districts where it
was produced. Having been on the spots, I
was able to obtain more accurate and detailed

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* From an inch and a half, to 2 inches. Trans.

T Raynal, t. ii. p. 68. § 16. Thiery de Menomaille, de la
Culture du. Nopal, p. 142. A small quantity of vanilla is also
cultivated in Jamaica, in the parishes of‘ St. Anne and St.
Mary. Brown, p. 326. i

9

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information; and I consulted at Xalapa and
Vera Cruz, persons, who for thirty years
have carried on the commerce in vanilla of
Misantla, Colipa, and Papantla. The follow-
ing is the res,u1t of my researches as to the
actual state of this interesting branch of national
industry. -'
All.the vanilla supplied by Mexico to Europe
is produced in the two intendancies of Vera
Cruz. and Oaxaca. ,This plant principally
abounds _on the eastern slope of the Cordillera of
Anahuac between 19° and 20° of latitude. The .
natives earl-y perceived, that notwithstanding
the abundance, the harvest was very difficult,
o'n account of the vast extent of ground neces-
sary to be gone over annually, and they collect’-
ed a great number of the plants into a liar-rower
space. This operation did not demand much
care; it was merely necessary to clear alittle
the soil, and to plant two slips of epidendrum
atlthe foot of a tree, or to fix parts cut from the
stalk to thetrunk of a Liquidambar, an Ocotea,
or an arborescent Piper. * .
V The slips are in. general from four to five
decimetres in len'gth.* They are tied to the trees
up; which,the. new stalk must climb. Each slip
yields - fruit in the third year. They calculate
on fifty pods on each, for thirty or. forty years,
especially if the vegetation of the vanilla is

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30 POLITICAL ESSAY ON TI-IE [BOOK iv.

not checked by the proximity of other claspers
which choke it.- 1 The baynilla cimarona, or wild
vanilla, which has not been planted by the hand,
of man, and which grows in a soil overgrown
with shrubs and climbing plants, bears in
Mexico fruit of _ a very dry nature, and in
exceeding small quantity.
In the intendancy of Vera Cruz, the districts
celebrated for the vanilla commerce, are the
subdelegacion de Misantla, ‘with the Indian
villages Misantla, Colipa, Yacuatla, (near the
Sierra de Chicunquiato) and Nautla, all for-
merly belonging to the Alcaldia mayor de la
Antigua; the jurisdiccion de Papantla, and those
of Santiago and San Andres Tuxtla. Misantla
is thirty leagues distant from Vera Cruz to
the north-west, and twelve leagues from the
sea coast. It is a charming place, in which
the "torment of the Mosquitos and the Gegerr,
so numerous in the port of Nautla, on the banks
of the Rio de Quilate, and at Colipa, is quite
unknown. If the river of Misantla, the mouth
of which is near the Barra de Palmas, were
rendered navigable, this district would soon
reach a high degree of prosperity. e e .
The natives of Misantla, collect the vanilla
in the mountains and forests of Quilate. The
plant is in flower in the months of February
and -March. The harvest is bad, if at this
period the north winds are frequent and ac-

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CHAP. x.] . KINGDOM OF NEW SPAIN. 31

companied with much rain. The flower drops without yielding fruit, if the humidity is too great. An extreme drought is equally hurtful to the growth of the plant. However, no insect attacks the green fruit on account of the milk it contains. They begin to cuts it in the months of March and April, after the sub-delegate has proclaimed that the harvest is permitted to the Indians: it continues to the end of June. The natives, who remain eight successive days in the forests of Quilate, sell the vanilla fresh and yellow to the gents dc razon,_ i. e. the whites, mestizoes and mulattos, who alone know the bengficio de la baynilla, namely, the manner of drying it with care, giving it a silvery lustre, and sorting it for transportation into Europe. The yellow fruits are spread out on cloths, and kept exposed to the sun for several hours. When sufliciently heated, they are wrapped up in woollen cloths for evaporation, when the vanilla blackens, and they conclude with exposing it to he dried from the morning to the evening in the heat of the sun. ' The method of preparing the vanilla at Colipa: is much superior to the beneficio employed at Misantla. It is asserted, that on unpacking the vanilla at Cadiz, not more than six per cent. is found to be damaged in that of Colipa; while in that of Misantla, the quan

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32- POLITICAL ESSAY ON THE [BOOK iv.

tity of rotten or damaged pods amounts to at
least the double. This last variety is more
difiicult to dry, because its fruit is larger and
more aqueous than that of Colipa, which is
produced in savannahs, and not in the moun-
tains, and is called baynilla de acaguales. When
the rainy season does not permit the inhabi-~
tants of Misantla and Colipa to expose the va-
nilla to the rays of the sun, they are obliged
to recur to an artificial heat, till it have ac-
quired a blackish colotu', and is covered with
silvery spots (manchas plateadas). They form,
by means of small reeds, a frame, which they
suspend by cords, and cover with woollen cloth,
and on which they spread the pods. The fire
is placed below, but at a considerable distance.
The pods are dried by agitating slightly the
frame, and gradually heating the reeds and the
cloth. Much care, and long experience, is
necessary to succeed in drying sufficiently the
vanilla in this way, which is called lzeneficio de
poscog/ol. The loss is generally very great
when artificialheat is employed.

At Misantla, the fruits of the vanilla are

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of the vani a w 1c enters into commerce
appears to be the produce of a single species
of epidendrum (Tlz'l.z~ochz'tl,) yet the fruit is

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