so what does an orchid have to do with anything with food? well it does. the orchid of a particular species produces one of the world's most wanted and used products in the culinary realm — the fruit of the vanilla orchid.
as with many orchids, the vanilla species is a vine which, in its natural environment, grows up the sides of trees.
there are four main growing areas for vanilla:
[bourbon islands: madagascar, seychelle, comoro & reunion]
and three main types of vanilla, each with their own flavour profile:
this is a very short article from UCLA on how the vanilla is harvested.
an interesting bean likened to vanilla, and sometimes used as a substitute, is the tonka bean. to see what it looks like look here or to read more, this and this at the bottom of the page provides you with the information. coumarin is derived from this bean, a powerful anti-coagulent. yikes, no thank you. i'll stick to the real deal.
pictures: source — public domain wikipedia