Black pepper - plant with green berries and leaves (Kumily, Kerala, India) Fresh Peppercorn Berries on a Pepper Vine Leaf, Black pepper plant in Sri Lanka, green pepper on the tree. selected focus
Chantel Brink
Chantel Brink
June 26, 2024 ·  13 min read

65 Images That Prove You Have No Idea How Your Food Is Grown

Nowadays, the journey from field to table for the food we eat can be quite long. Never before in history have we had such access to food from around the world. With incredible preservation methods and fast transportation, we can enjoy pineapples in Minnesota during January, even if they come from a can.

However, being so far removed from our food sources, most of us have no idea what our food looks like while it’s growing. You might be surprised to learn that pineapples grow on individual stalks or that mustard starts as a beautiful yellow flower. Even your morning cup of coffee begins as a cluster of bright red berries.

Let’s face it — most of us don’t stop to think about where our food comes from

Group of People Making Toast
Image Credit: Pexels

We just assume it grows the way we’ve always imagined. You probably think bananas grow on trees, right? They actually grow on enormous herbs covered in purple flowers. Chestnuts emerge from spine-covered pods, and peanuts are the roots of flowers. There’s a whole world of fascinating food out there. Here are 65 types of food that don’t grow the way you think.


Pineapple field
Image Credit: Wikipedia

Pineapples grow from spiky, ground-level bushes. The fruit develops in the center of the plant, and each bush produces just one pineapple at a time, taking about 18-24 months to mature.

Sesame Seeds

Sesame Seed pods
Image Credit: Wikipedia

Sesame seeds come from tall, sprouting plants that grow straight up from the ground. The seeds are housed in small pods known as “buds,” and each pod can contain dozens of tiny seeds.


Artichoke flowers
Image Credit: Pexels

Artichokes are actually the large, edible flower buds of a plant that blooms into big, pretty purple flowers with feathery tops if left unharvested. They are usually picked before the flower opens.

Brussel Sprouts

Brussel sprouts plant

Brussel sprouts, part of the Gemmifera group of cabbages, grow on a tall, leafy green stalk. Each sprout is about 2.5 to 4 cm in diameter, forming in clusters along the stalk, resembling miniature cabbages.


Capers are the unopened flower buds of a vine with pretty white flowers. These buds are usually pickled, providing a tangy, lemony flavor to various dishes.


Pistachio fruit on tree

Pistachios grow in clusters on trees and take seven to ten years to produce a significant yield, with peak production around 20 years. The nuts are harvested, dried, and often roasted. Interestingly, the pistachios resemble small mangoes when they’re on the tree.


Peanut plant

Peanuts begin as pretty little yellow wildflowers above ground. When you pull up the plant, you’ll find the nuts in pods attached to the roots, revealing their status as underground legumes.

Vanilla Bean

Vanilla beans come from a flowering plant with delicate white flowers. The flowers produce long pods, which are then treated and dried to develop the rich vanilla flavor we use in cooking and baking.


Kiwi Fruit

Kiwis start out as flowers hanging on vines that grow along trellises. Over time, the flowers transform into the fuzzy, brown-skinned fruits that hang down until they are ready to be harvested.


Cashew Fruit

Cashews are particularly unusual. They grow on trees that produce cashew apples, and the nut itself forms at the bottom of the apple. The nuts are harvested, and their toxic shells are carefully removed before they are safe to eat.


Almond Tree

Almonds grow on flowering trees. The blossoms eventually turn into pods, and inside these pods, you’ll find the almonds. The trees bloom with beautiful white and pink flowers in the spring before developing the nut-bearing pods.


Saffron Flowers
Image Credit: PIXABAY

Saffron is derived from the stigmas of bright purple crocus flowers. Each flower produces just three red stigmas, which are painstakingly harvested by hand and dried to become the saffron threads used in cooking.


Cinnamon Tree
Image Credit: PINTEREST

Cinnamon is actually the dried inner bark of certain tree species, primarily Cinnamomum verum. Harvesters peel off the bark and allow it to curl into quills as it dries, giving us the familiar cinnamon sticks.


Cranberries grow on low-lying, evergreen dwarf shrubs. The plants produce small pink flowers that develop into the tart red berries we enjoy in sauces and juices.


Cacao Fruits On Tree
Image Credit: Pexels

Cacao, the source of chocolate, grows on trees that produce large pods. Inside these pods are cacao beans, which are harvested, fermented, dried, and processed to create chocolate products.

Read More: Why You Should Never Buy Precut Fruit


Red and Yellow Coffee Berries on Branch
Image Credit: Pexels

Coffee begins as bright red or yellow cherries on coffee plants. Inside each cherry are the coffee beans. These cherries are harvested, and the beans are extracted, dried, roasted, and ground to make the coffee we drink.


Banana tree
Image Credit: Pexels

Bananas grow on large herbaceous plants that can reach up to 30 feet tall. These plants produce purple flowers, from which huge bunches of bananas emerge. Contrary to common belief, bananas grow stem-side down.


Image Credit: WIKIPEDIA

Quinoa grows on tall stalks that resemble flowering plants. The seeds are harvested and then rinsed to remove saponins, which have a naturally bitter taste. Quinoa is a highly nutritious grain alternative, gaining popularity for its health benefits.


Pomegranate Fruit in the Tree
Image Credit: Pexels

Pomegranates grow on small, spindly trees. Before harvest, the branches become heavy with the weight of the fruit. Pomegranate trees thrive in dry soil conditions, and overwatering can lead to disease.


Crop ethnic person with fresh nutmeg in forest
Image Credit: Pexels

Nutmeg is typically sold ground, but in its original form, it looks more like a fruit. The nutmeg seed is found inside a yellow, apricot-like fruit, and it is dried and ground to produce the spice commonly used in cooking and baking.


Asparagus spear growing from soil

Unlike many vegetables that grow on bushes or trees, asparagus sprouts straight up from the ground in individual stalks. It can take between two and three years for an asparagus plant to mature, but once it does, you can expect to harvest fresh stalks daily during the growing season.


Mango tree
Image Credit: WIKIPEDIA

Mangoes grow on trees in large clusters. Early in their growth cycle, mangoes are dark green and might be hard to recognize. As they ripen, they turn the familiar yellow, red, or orange color, indicating they’re ready to pick.


Starfruit tree

Starfruit, also known as carambola, is not widely known across the United States, but it can be found in some grocery stores. This fruit grows in clusters on small bushes and can even be grown in pots, making it accessible for home gardeners.


Date Palm Trees
Image Credit: Pexels

Dates grow on tall palm trees that can reach up to 75 feet in height. These trees thrive in warm climates, which helps the fruit develop its sweet, rich flavor. The height of the trees and the warm climate make harvesting dates a challenging task.

Camellia Tea

While tea is commonly known to be made from leaves, herbal teas like camellia tea are blends of various herbs and spices. Camellia tea specifically comes from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant, a flowering shrub or small tree.

Read More: 21 Incredibly Healthy and Affordable Foods



Dragonfruit, known for its vibrant pink skin and creamy texture, is a strikingly unique fruit. It grows on a type of cactus with long, trailing leaves. The fruit hangs low amidst these unusual leaves, making it a fascinating sight.


Zucchini plant
Image Credit: Pexels

Zucchini is a popular vegetable that grows low to the ground as part of a large bush. The plant produces thick, waxy vegetables alongside bright yellow flowers, which are also edible and often used in cooking.

Kidney Beans

Kidney beans

Kidney beans, commonly used in chili, grow in pods similar to peas. These beans develop in small clusters inside long, dry pods, which are harvested and then shelled to extract the beans.


Persimmon tree
Image Credit: Pexels

Persimmons grow on trees, which might be surprising given their resemblance to tomatoes. The trees have thick branches that support the weight of the fruit. Unlike tomatoes that grow on vines, persimmons thrive on these sturdy trees.


Image Credit: Pexels

Cloves are the small, fragrant spice buds of a flowering tree. These buds are harvested before they open, and then dried to be used in cooking and baking, particularly in warm, aromatic dishes and beverages.


Image Credit: PERMIES

Lentils are a protein-packed favorite among both vegetarians and meat-eaters. In the wild, you might mistake them for tall grass dotted with tiny pods. Each of these pods contains a few small lentil seeds, which are harvested and dried for culinary use.



Chickpeas, essential for making hummus, start out looking quite peculiar. They grow inside fuzzy green pods on low bushy plants. Each pod typically contains one or two chickpeas.


Broccoli plant

Often referred to as “trees” by kids, the part of broccoli we eat is actually the flower head. The entire broccoli plant resembles a large shrub, with the familiar green vegetable growing prominently in the center.


Squirrel Taking Green Unripe Walnut from Tree
Image Credit: Pexels

Walnuts look unusual even after they’re harvested, but on the tree, they appear even stranger. They grow inside a green, fleshy husk that splits open to reveal the hard shell we’re familiar with.


Avocado tree
Image Credit: Pexels

Avocados grow on large trees that can reach up to 30 feet tall. In favorable climates, these trees can become enormous. The fruit is often harvested using special poles to reach the high branches.

Read More: This Is How Long Fresh Produce Will Last Before Going Bad


Blueberries growing on fresh green bush
Image Credit: Pexels

Blueberries grow on bushes, which can sometimes reach up to 12 feet tall. The bushes start out with little white flowers that eventually turn into the juicy blue berries we love to pick and eat.


Arugula plant

Arugula, a popular gourmet salad green, might surprise you with its appearance in the garden. It grows like a common weed or patch of undergrowth, with small, tender leaves that pack a peppery punch.


Okra, recognizable for its green pods, grows on tall plants alongside strikingly beautiful yellow flowers. Whether fresh or pickled, okra is a distinct and versatile vegetable.



Leeks grow in a manner that might surprise you. They resemble large, thick lollipops sticking straight out of the soil. The edible part is the long, white stem, which is blanched by piling soil around it as it grows.

Black Pepper

Black pepper starts its journey looking like clusters of tiny green berries, resembling grapes. These berries, known as peppercorns, dry out and turn black, becoming the familiar spice we sprinkle on our food.

Poppy Seeds

Wildflowers and Poppy on Meadow
Image Credit: Pexels

Poppy seeds come from the opium poppy flower, the same plant used to produce painkillers like morphine. However, the seeds themselves are harmless and add a nutty flavor to baked goods and other dishes.


Image Credit: WIKIPEDIA

Wasabi is derived from the root of the wasabi plant, which doesn’t resemble the green paste we associate with sushi. The root is grated to create the spicy condiment, providing a unique, pungent flavor.


Mustard flowers
Image Credit: Pexels

Mustard, commonly found in bottles in our refrigerators, comes from the seeds of the bright yellow mustard flower. These seeds are ground and mixed to create the condiment we use on sandwiches and hot dogs.


Garlic flowers

Garlic is a multifaceted plant with several edible parts. The part we commonly use, the clove, is the bulb of the plant. Garlic also produces beautiful flowers, which have a similarly pungent aroma.

Sweet Potato

Sweet potatoes
Image Credit: Plantly

Sweet potatoes grow underground, hidden from view. Above the soil, the plant looks like a bush with vibrant leaves, making it easy to overlook the nutritious tubers developing below.

Read More: Eat This Fruit Daily To Help Preserve Your Bone Health for Years to Come


Image Credit: Good Housekeeping

Celery grows in large, lush bushes. When you buy a bundle at the grocery store, you’re only seeing a small portion of the plant. The crunchy stalks we eat are part of a much larger, leafy plant.


Image Credit: YouTube

Eggplants grow on low, bushy plants rather than trees. These plants produce the large, glossy fruits that are technically classified as berries due to their botanical structure.


Olive tree
Image Credit: Pexels

Olives grow individually on trees, each fruit hanging from its own branch. The trees themselves have a gnarled, twisted appearance, reminiscent of something from a fairy tale or a horror movie.


Paprika plant
Image Credit: Hungarian Paprika

Paprika is made from peppers that are closely related to bell peppers. These peppers are dried and ground to create the vibrant red spice used to add flavor and color to various dishes.


Image Credit: Pexels

Turmeric starts as a knobby root that looks similar to ginger. Once harvested, the root is dried and ground into the bright yellow powder known for its strong flavor and use in cooking and medicinal remedies.


Papaya tree
Image Credit: Pexels

Papayas grow on slender trees in large clusters, much like bananas. They start out green and gradually turn bright yellow or pink as they ripen. Despite the weight of the fruit, the trees remain relatively thin and can still support the heavy clusters.


Cucumber plant
Image Credit: Better Homes & Gardens

While some might already know, it’s often surprising to learn that cucumbers grow hanging from vines, not underground. They dangle from their vine supports, which allows them to develop their characteristic elongated shape.

Sichuan Pepper

Sichuan Pepper
Image Credit: Jekka’s Herb Farm

Sichuan pepper, also known as Szechuan pepper, comes from small, bright peppercorns that look like tiny berries. They are not typically eaten whole due to their intense heat, but they are ground and used to add a unique, tingling spice to dishes.


Cardamom plant
Image credit: Balcony Garden Web

Cardamom, often referred to as the Queen of Spices, grows on a tree in clusters of small green pods. Inside these pods are the aromatic seeds used in cooking and baking, particularly in Middle Eastern and South Asian cuisine.

Star Anise

Star anise
Image Credit: Growin Spaces

Star anise is a spice with a flavor reminiscent of mild licorice. It comes from the fruit of a flowering tree related to the magnolia. The star-shaped fruit is harvested and dried to be used whole or ground in various dishes.

Read More: 8 Foods You Should Consider Eating Raw (and 5 You Should Cook)


Lychee tree
Image Credit: Unsplash

Lychee grows in clusters on the branches of trees, resembling large cherries. Though not common in the United States, this tropical fruit is enjoyed for its sweet, juicy flesh and distinctive floral aroma.


Chives, related to onions, have a sharp flavor and bloom with beautiful purple flowers. These flowers add a splash of color to gardens, but the chive’s pungent aroma is a reminder of its onion heritage.


Image Credit: The Spruce

Horseradish is typically seen as a paste, but it is actually a natural plant with broad, shiny leaves that resemble spinach. The root, which is grated to make the pungent condiment, is the most well-known part of the plant.


Ginger plant
Image Credit: Soil to Soul

Ginger, commonly found in powdered form in spice cabinets, begins as a knobby root. This root looks somewhat like a tree branch or an oddly-shaped potato and is prized for its spicy, aromatic flavor.


Image Credit: PIXABAY

Cumin, known for its distinctive flavor in Mexican cuisine, is the seed of a feathery plant related to parsley. The plant produces small, beautiful purple flowers before the seeds are harvested and dried for use as a spice.


Green Sage Leaves
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Sage is a flavorful herb commonly used to season meat dishes. The plant has broad, soft leaves with a fuzzy exterior, giving it a distinctive texture. It’s easy to grow in herb gardens and adds a robust, earthy flavor to various recipes.



Chestnuts are deliciously meaty, especially when roasted as a winter snack. However, on the tree, they’re encased in spiky, alien-looking husks that protect the nuts inside. Once harvested and peeled, the chestnuts are ready to be cooked and enjoyed.

Brazil Nuts

Brazil Nut tree
Image Credit: Pinterest

Brazil nuts are easily recognizable, even if they aren’t the most popular. On the tree, they grow in large fruits that resemble coconuts. Inside these fruits, the nuts are clustered together like citrus seeds, each encased in a hard shell.

Pine Nuts

Pine nuts
Image Credit: ABC

Pine nuts come from stone pine trees, which are not very common in the United States. These small, edible seeds are found inside the cones of the tree. The cones are harvested and the seeds are extracted to be used in cooking, particularly in pesto.

Wild Rice

Wild Rice
Image Credit: Pexels

Wild rice is a dietary staple in many parts of the world. It grows in marshy areas on tall, grass-like stalks. Before being harvested, it looks like ordinary grass, making it hard to recognize as the nutritious grain that it is.

H/t Sweet & Savory

Read More: 17 Iron-Rich Fruits To Pump Up Your Iron Levels