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Fruits of Hawaii

Updated on May 17, 2010

The following fruits aren't listed in any specific order. These fruits are found in Hawaii, though not necessarily native to the area or used in traditional Hawaiian cuisine.

Pineapple

What it is: Ananas comosus is a tropical fruiting member of the Bromeliad family native to Brazil and Paraguay. In Hawaii, pineapples are primarily associated with the Dole Pineapple Plantation, which can be found there on the island of Oahu. What appears to be a single fruit is actually many smaller fruits pressed together.

Is it Hawaiian?: The pineapple is not native to Hawaii and was not known to Ancient Hawaiian civilization. It is however commonly found in modern Hawaii. Three common varieties found in Hawaii are as follows;

'Smooth Cayenne': 2.5–3 kg (5-6 lb), pale yellow to yellow flesh. Cylindrical in shape and with high sugar and acid content. Well adapted to canning and processing. The most easily obtainable in U.S. grocery stores.

'Hilo': A compact 1–1.5 kg (2-3 lb) Hawaiian variant of 'Smooth Cayenne'.

'Kona Sugarloaf': 2.5–3 kg (5-6 lb), white flesh with no woodiness in the center. Cylindrical in shape, it has a high sugar content but no acid.

Best places to find it: Oahu and Hawaii are the best islands to find this fruit. Most restaurants will serve the Hilo and Smooth Cayenne varieties. Kona sugarloaf pineapples can be obtained inexpensively from open markets on the island of Hawaii.

Guava

What it is: The Psidium genus is native to Mexico and Central America. This genus is propagated in the wild through endozoocheris ornithocary, or the dispersal of seeds through birds digestive cycles.  Guavas are extremely nutritious, being high in fiber, diertary minerals, vitamins A and C, and omega 3 and 6 acids.  One guava contains four times as much vitamin C as a single orange.  
 
Is it Hawaiian?: Guavas are not native to Hawaii.  Guavas have become invasive species in native ecosystems, particularly rainforests. Wood from guava trees is used in local crafts and in meat smoking, and fruits are harvested for consumption.

Best places to find it: Guavas can be found on all the main Hawaiian islands.  Ask around local markets to find meat smoked with guava wood, as this is a treat hard to find outside of Hawaii.  Local companies Hawaiian Sun and Aloha Maid make several juices flavored with guava.

Passionfruit


What it is: The Passiflora genus is native to South America. Externally, this fruit is similar in appearance the the guava. This plant is extremely invasive in native Hawaiian ecosystems. In Hawaii, this plant is called lilikoi.

Is it Hawaiian?: Though it has a Hawaiian name, this plant was not known to pre-contact Hawaiians. This fruit is popular in modern culture and used to make syrups, butters, jellies, glazes, and sauces. It is a popular flavoring for shaved ice.

Best places to find it: This fruit and flavorings derived from it can be found on all the main Hawaiian islands.

Papaya

What it is: Carica papaya is a tropical fruiting tree native to the Central and South America.  Fruits are yellow-orange externally when ripe.  Green and yellow papayas flesh is used in culinary arts.  The black seeds inside the fruit are also edible, used in ways similar to black pepper.  In the 1990s, two varieties of papaya, SunUp and Rainbow, that had been genetically-modified to be resistant to the papaya ring spot virus, were introduced into Hawaii. By 2004, non-genetically modified and organic papayas throughout Hawaii had experienced widespread contamination from the genetically-modified varieties.

Is it Hawaiian?: Papayas were unknown to pre-Contact Hawaiians.  Fruits are commonly used in Thai, Hawaiian, and Filippino cuisine in the Islands.  Fruits are served fresh in continental breakfasts and as side dishes in restaurants.

Best places to find it:  Most restauraunts serve papaya halves with lime slices.  Papaya fruits can be bought whole in most open markets.

Mango

What it is: Mangoes are native to the Indian Subcontinent.  Mangoes are eaten whole, used as flavorings, and used to make chutney and sweet salsas.  Mangoes are high in antioxidants and dietary minerals.  Some people are allergic to the sap of mango trees, reacting with dermatological symptoms similar to poison ivy. 

Is it Hawaiian?: Mangoes are a recent introduction to Hawaii.  Many locals love to eat fresh mangoes and products derived from this fruit can be found in almost any store selling food items.    

Best places to find it: Kauai and Hawaii have some of the best locally grown mangos in the state. Mangos can be purchased whole in most open markets and grocery stores.

Wine Grapes

What it is: Species of the genus Vitis are native to the Central Asia and the Mediterranean.  Early Egyptian hieroglyphics show the cultivation of grapes.  Wine grapes are species of grapes grown specifically for producing wine.  White wine and red wine grapes are both grown all over the world. 

Is it Hawaiian?:  Grapes did not appear in Hawaii until after Western contact.  Wine grapes have been grown at sea level in Hawaii using deep sea water cold agriculture technologies. 

Best places to find it: The Volcano Winery on the island of Hawaii boasts an impressive vineyard and carries many exotic flavors.  Wines produced in Hawaii can be purchased in large grocery stores and at the winery. 

Lychee

What it is: The Litchi genus is native to Asia and Northern Africa.  These fruit have red outer shells and translucent whitish flesh similar in consistency and flavor to a grape, only sweeter. There are over 30 different cultivars of lychee.  The Lychee contains on average a total 72mg of Vitamin C per 200 grams of flesh. Lychee are low in Saturated Fat, Cholesterol and Sodium.

Is it Hawaiian?: Lychee cultivars were brought to Hawaii from Asia with the migration of people from China and Japan. Lychee is a favorite flavor for shaved ice as well as candies.
LFruits are also eaten fresh and raw.

Best places to find it: Fruits can be purchased at grocery stores and open markets.

Jaboticaba

What it is: This tropical fruiting plant is native to Brazil.  The dark purple-black fruits
grow directly off of the trunk of the tree.  The flesh of these fruits is similar in
appearance to that of a lychee.  Several potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory
anti-cancer compounds have been isolated from the fruit.

Is it Hawaiian?: This plant is not native to Hawaiian and was brought in for use in wine and
juice making.

Best places to find it:  Occasionally, sapling trees can be found at open markets.  Open
markets usually carry fresh fruits.  Wine made from fruits can be found at the Volcano Winery on the Island of Hawaii. 

Tomato

What it is: Tomatoes are a fruit and part of the nightshade family (like potatoes and eggplants), but they are served and prepared as a vegetable, which is why most people consider them a vegetable and not a fruit. Native to South America, and brought to Europe by Spanish explorers, the tomato took some time to be accepted because tomatoes were thought to be poisonous, like other members of the nightshade family.Tomatoes come in a variety of colors, shapes and sizes.

Is it Hawaiian?: Tomatoes are not native to Hawaii. The Kamuela area of the island of Hawaii is known for growing tomatoes, some being grown hydroponically. These tomatoes are large and known for being fresh tasting.

Best places to find it: Locally grown tomatoes can be found at open markets. Kamuela tomatoes can be found in the State of Hawaii at various grocery stores, and of course within Kamuela.

What it is: Garden strawberries are a common variety of strawberry cultivated worldwide. Like other species of Fragaria (strawberries), it belongs to the family Rosaceae. Technically, it is not a fruit but a false fruit[1], meaning the fleshy part is not derived from the plant's ovaries. The Garden Strawberry was first bred in Europe in the early 18th century via an accidental cross of Fragaria virginiana from eastern North America, which was noted for its flavor, and Fragaria chiloensis from Chile, which was noted for its large size.

Is it Hawaiian?: Strawberries are a post-contact fruit.  Flavorings and derivatives, as well as fresh fruits, can be found commonly throughout the islands.  Like wine grapes, strawberries have also been grown using deep sea water cold agriculture technologies.   

Best places to find it: Strawberries can be found in grocery stores and open markets. Waimea on the island of Hawaii is the main producer of strawberries in the State, and is known for having large and especially sweet strawberries.

What it is:  Usually deep red in color, pear shaped, with a waxy skin, about the size of an apple. Some varieties have white or pink skin.  Used as a food crop.  Native to Malaysia. 

Is it Hawaiian?:  Although native to Malaysia, the Mountain apple was brought to Hawaii by Polynesians and was used by them as a food crop.  The Hawaiian name for this plant is ohia 'ai.

Best places to find it: Open markets, especially on the island of Hawaii.  Occurs in the wild. 

What it is: The true origin of Bananas, world's most popular fruit, is found in the region of Malaysia, where all plants in the Musa genus are native.  Americas first commercial sale of bananas was at a celebration held in Pennsylvania in 1876 to commemorate the hundredth anniversary of the Declaration of Independence. The banana plant is not a tree. It is actually the world's largest herb!

Is it Hawaiian?: Bananas were brought from Malaysia to Hawaii by Polynesians.  The banana was one of the 13 staple crops brought on the first journey from the South Pacific to Hawaii.

Best places to find it: Every grocery store and open market will have bananas available.  Apple bananas, a variety commonly found in Hawaii, are worth the buy.

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    • profile image

      brin 3 years ago

      I am from jamaica, living in florida now, the mountain apple is the same thing we call otaheiti apple, very sweet especially when its dark in color, a few islanders grow the tree in miami and fort lauderdale.

    • Toytasting profile image

      Toy Tasting 4 years ago from Mumbai

      I am huge fruit lover. Though I haven't come across certain fruits like mountain apple and jaboticaba, yet they look tempting. My favorites are pineapple and guavas. Next destination for me is definitely Hawaii. Thanks for sharing the info :)

    • idigwebsites profile image

      idigwebsites 4 years ago from United States

      I never saw a mountain apple before, so it's really new to me, new discovery. I'm familiar about all the other fruits, and mango is my most fave. Thanks for posting!

    • adisrirrsa profile image

      Adi Sis 4 years ago from Yogyakarta, Indonesia

      Hi Keliko. In Java island, Indonesia, it stands in older periode in time, expressed in the old Javanese manuscripts. Those fruits called #Jambu Darsana here (you called mountain apple). thank you Keliko. :)

    • profile image

      Meep 4 years ago

      Tomatoes aren't Hawiian! MEEEEEEEEP

      That's a fact everyone!

    • profile image

      Asma 4 years ago

      hi,I am 11 years old and I want to know more and only about hawaiian fruits,because it is for my schoolpleas!!!!.thank you bye

    • profile image

      yolanda 5 years ago

      i whont to go to hawall

    • profile image

      branz 5 years ago

      From what I understand, there are only 1 or 2 fruits that are actually native to Hawaii, do you know what they are called?

    • profile image

      jessie b 5 years ago

      I was in Maui last week and tried a few new fruits. One looked kind of like a cactus (light green) on the outside and was green on the inside with lots of tiny seeds. Another one looked and felt like a potato (brown) on the outside and was yellowish on the inside with one big dark tear drop shaped seed. Any idea what either of these fruits are called?

    • profile image

      nikita 5 years ago

      thank you you SO MUCH im diong a poster about how i would survive on Hawaii 200 years ago THNX :)

    • brideappeal profile image

      brideappeal 5 years ago from Coast to Coast, USA

      This post was so informative. I had no idea that so many fruits weren't native to Hawaii. Do you know which fruits are truly native to the islands? I didn't see any on the list.

      Thanks, great article!

    • Keliko808 profile image
      Author

      Keliko808 5 years ago from Hawaii

      Fruits are plentiful all year round here! Probably the best island for variety that is readily available would be the Big Island or Oahu. The Big Island will have locally grown fruits and Oahu has the most because it is the most populated island where Honolulu is. Farmers markets are the very best place to get both the highest quality and the cheapest fruits. Where I live, most restaurants sell a half a papaya with yogurt anywhere from 3 to 6 dollars, when you can buy 3 for a dollar at the market!

    • profile image

      Sammie 5 years ago

      So glad I stumbled across this. Planning to take my mom because she wants to go eat fruits!!!!! We are aiming for early August. Would there be fruits plentiful then? Which island is best for getting the most variety of fruits?

      Thanks!

    • profile image

      Rachelmiller2501 5 years ago

      I'm doing a state report in school thanks so much for the info

    • profile image

      Janica Williamson 5 years ago

      What is a small yellow double seeded fruit - size of a large cherry - oblong - siminlar in flavor to an apricot? thanks!

    • Keliko808 profile image
      Author

      Keliko808 5 years ago from Hawaii

      Thanks for the info!

    • Keliko808 profile image
      Author

      Keliko808 5 years ago from Hawaii

      Indeed! What area do you live in now? Some areas are approved for seed or bare root saplings.

    • Keliko808 profile image
      Author

      Keliko808 5 years ago from Hawaii

      A herbaceous plant is a plant that has leaves and stems that die down at the end of the growing season to the soil level. They have no persistent woody stem above ground. Botanically speaking, bananas are indeed herbs, although not in the sense that most people are familiar with. :)

    • profile image

      someperson 5 years ago

      bananas are not herbs.

    • profile image

      brian quinn 5 years ago

      hi i lived in guyana in the sixties and seventies, and lived in our mountain apple tree,it would be awsome just to taste and smell that wonderful fruit again.thankyou brian.

    • profile image

      Dann 5 years ago

      Thanks for the info. I found your post very informative, I looking to planting a varity of fruits in Haiku.

      Thanks again,

      Dann

    • profile image

      Ed Hartz 6 years ago

      Anyone interested to grow, plant, harvest, and/or ship to New York the Hawaiian fruits, please call Hawaiian Ed. 203.426.7141.

    • ChristinCordle12 profile image

      ChristinCordle12 6 years ago

      I always buy a fruit, and every morning I shake it and make a juice, so delicious, good for hobbit.

    • profile image

      Andrew 6 years ago

      Thanks for the information! I had to make a menu for a hawaiian restaurant.

    • Keliko808 profile image
      Author

      Keliko808 6 years ago from Hawaii

      Mangoes are really the only fruits affected by season. Because we're so close to the equator here, there is more of a difference between night and day than summer and winter. I personally enjoy pineapples grown in the summer months, but they grow all year round. The Big Island or Kauai are your best bets for organic and local produce. I've had some bad experiences in other countries with uncooked food including fruits, you have to make sure to wash the skin thoroughly.

    • profile image

      Helen 6 years ago

      Hi thanks for this great article. I am trying to decide between Hawaii and Thailand for a couple of weeks next Christmas/New Year. (Purely to try all these tropical fruits) Do you have any info on what is in season around that time and would the Big Island be the best place to get them (especially organic grown).

      Many Thanks

      Helen

    • Keliko808 profile image
      Author

      Keliko808 6 years ago from Hawaii

      You can buy them online and probably in an organic or Asian specialty grocery store. http://californiacherimoya.com/?gclid=CMuQu-Leu6YC... here's an online store that sells them. Custard apples are also known as cherimoya, here they are not seasonal but I am not sure about there. The closest growing area to you is California.

    • profile image

      butt 6 years ago

      i have some project on hawaii and i would like 2 know if i can get the apple in colorado or would i have to buy it in hawaii and ship it out to colorado?

    • profile image

      butt 6 years ago

      can i get that custard apple in colorado

    • Keliko808 profile image
      Author

      Keliko808 6 years ago from Hawaii

      @beoncye Hawaii is actually known for a lack of poisonous fruits! Some will give humans a stomach ache but that's about all. When plants evolved in isolation here, they lost their defenses against terrestrial grasses since we didn't have any. There are also nettles with no barbs and mint with no mint flavor.

    • Keliko808 profile image
      Author

      Keliko808 6 years ago from Hawaii

      I believe you're talking about a custard apple. I didn't include it on this list because that's a pretty recent important and not grown very often here, but they are very good! Did it look like this? http://newasiancuisine.com/wp-content/uploads/2010...

    • profile image

      JLowe 6 years ago

      I had an amazing fruit in MAui this past week - it had a green, irregular shape on the outside and a white creamy fruit on the inside with black seeds. Delicious! I had to let it ripen in a brown bag for 3 days before eating. What is the name of this fruit?

    • profile image

      beoncye 6 years ago

      maybe hawaii has poison fruits

    • profile image

      biebergirl113 7 years ago

      omg i love hawaii

    • profile image

      josh 7 years ago

      Good stuff! I thought this was interesting because I live on Oahu and I've never even heard of a mountain apple until I read this. Ha!

      I'm also in the process of putting together a healthy hawaiian diet for a friend of mine and it's turning out to be an arduous task to say the least. Healthy and Hawaiian are not even close to synonymous since macaroni salad is served with everything. But nevertheless, I'm determined...

      Keep up the good work!

    • Keliko808 profile image
      Author

      Keliko808 7 years ago from Hawaii

      RE: James: Contact me and I'll do my best to help you out.

    • profile image

      James 7 years ago

      Good job on the info! I been looking for info on plants in hawaii, more specifically berries. Looking on Google has proven to be a giant waste of time *Sigh* results have yielded nothing of the topic (IE. Can of Spam)*head scratch* I wanted to know the extent of knowledge you have on the topic of hawaiian plants both native and alien.

      Thank you^^

    • profile image

      KitschyKaren 7 years ago

      Thanks Keliko!

      Am planning a Hawaiian themed hallowe'en party, and this is really helpful!

      K x

    • profile image

      Jose 7 years ago

      What drupaceous fruit were Hawaiian women once forbidden by law to eat?thanks if you can answer.

    • profile image

      kinikio 7 years ago

      really good frit cause i was doing a hawaii theme basket

    • profile image

      CUPCAKE 7 years ago

      so helpful doing a report on hawaii! THANKS

    • Keliko808 profile image
      Author

      Keliko808 7 years ago from Hawaii

      I posted this to just be a brief, general overview on the topic. Its intended to be a quick read. If anyone has any further questions, they can just ask me or post as a comment :)

    • profile image

      paige  7 years ago

      It was good put needs more facts. thanks

    • profile image

      Seafarer Mama 7 years ago

      Hi Keliko,

      Thank you for this informative article. Thank you for including where these fruits originated before they were brought over to Hawaii. I visited Hawaii with my Mom when I was 10 years old. I hope to return some day with my own daughter.