Meet Edmond Albius. As a 12 year old slave boy in 1841, he invented the technique for pollinating vanilla orchids profitably. Without this technique, it’s unlikely that vanilla would be nearly as well known as it is today.

The Little Boy Who Should’ve Vanished, but Didn’t

He was 12 years old. He was a slave. He’d had no schooling. He was too young, too unlettered, too un-European; he couldn’t have done this on his own. That’s what people said.

Edmond (he had no last name—slaves weren’t allowed them) had just solved a botanical mystery that had stumped the greatest botanists of his day. In the early 1800s he was a child on a remote island in the Indian Ocean, and yet, against overwhelming odds, Edmond would get credit for his discovery—and for the most surprising reasons. I want to tell you his story. So I’ll start here, with a plant.

This is a vanilla plant (or my version of one). It’s a vine. It climbs, sometimes way high, and when it flowers and is visited by a pollinator, it produces a bunch of lo… Continue Reading


Source: https://www.nationalgeographic.com/science/phenomena/2015/06/16/the-little-boy-who-shouldve-vanished-but-didnt/

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