The vanilla orchid (Vanilla planifolia) is one of the world’s most interesting plants. Of the nearly 35,000 species of orchid, the second largest botanical family of plants, vanilla is the only species that produces an edible fruit. True vanilla is a sought after product, usually the second most expensive spice in the world, yet we associate the word vanilla with plain, boring, and commonplace. Native to Mexico and Central America, the vanilla vine is well suited for any tropical homestead. Yet vanilla is a particular plant requiring special care, in particular during pollination where every flower must be hand pollinated.
Salak palm or snake fruit (Salacca edulis or Salacca zalacca) is a high value understory species for tropical agroforestry plantings. Salak palm is native to southeast Asia, where it is commercially cultivated in Indonesia, Malaysia, and Java, in their wet tropical lowland climates. At higher elevations the "Bali" variety can be grown. It produces a delicious fruit, eaten out of hand, with a taste similar to strawberry with an apple-like texture. The fruit transports well and can be stored at room temperature for a week with little degradation in quality.