The Vanilla Plant is a member of the aster family (family Asteraceae) which includes herbs, sometimes shrubs or vines, rarely trees, with simple or compound, alternate or opposite leaves. Flowers small, but organized into larger heads resembling a single, radially symmetrical flower cupped by a ring of green bracts. Flower-like heads: tiny, radially symmetrical central flowers form the disk; larger flowers around the edge, the rays, strap-shaped and resembling petals; however, all flowers in one had may be disk flowers or rays. Flowers: calyx absent, or modified into hairs, bristles, scales, or a crown, which often persist atop the fruits; corolla has 5 united petals, 5 stamens; all these parts attached to top of the ovary. Leaves: simple or compound, opposite, alternate or whorled. Fruit: 1-seeded, with hard shell.In this large, worldwide family there are about 920 genera and 19,000 species. Cosmos, Sunflower, Zinnia, Dahlia, and many others are grown as ornamentals; Lettuce, Sunflowers, and Artichokes provide food. Safflower oil is obtained from this family. Ragweed pollen causes hay fever.