Vanillin, 4-hydroxy-3-methoxybenzaldehyde, is a white crystalline solid, which melts at 81 degrees Celsius. Vanilla planifola is an orchid which produces seed pods from which vanilla extracts are obtained; these extracts contain nearly 200 different molecules, of which vanillin is the most important, and most abundant, making up 98% of the eventual vanilla extract. Vanillin itself was first isolated from vanilla pods by Nicholas-Theodore Gobley in 1858 (though he thought that its formula was C10H6O2, not C8H8O2). The biosynthetic pathway starts with phenylalanine.
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