Vanilla’s complex aromatic profile and its high price have made vanilla one of the most sought-after spices in the world. It is a tropical vine that can climb to 20m (66ft) or more. Its fruit is produced by hand-pollination of the flowers. In contrast to its rather simple production, the phytochemicals involved in vanilla flavor are very complex and far from being completely understood.
Vanilla flowers are a cousin to the vanilla orchid. Vanilla orchids grow on vines, while vanilla flowers grow on trees. Vanilla flowers are the most potent part of the vanilla orchid, and contain almost all the flavor. Vanilla flowers are rare and expensive, but can be added as an ingredient for a more intense flavor.