Tropical Fruit Varieties
Facts About Fruits
Fruits in general, are a fleshy seed which is cultivated from a particular plant species. You will find most fruits edible with a sweet, tangy, or sour flavor in its raw form.
Fruits are considered a rich source of vitamins C and A and give you all the essential nutrients needed for a daily balanced diet. They are a natural way to boost your energy, quench your thirst, and satisfy your hunger.
Fruits are consumed as food on a daily basis by billions of people and also have many versatile uses as well. Homemade remedies, natural and organic beauty products and natural cleaning solutions are but a few ways we use fruits every day.
Fabulous Books on Tropical Fruits!
Tropical fruits are cultivated and produced by trees that are native to USDA Tropical Zones.
The unique settings for trees and plants grown in the tropics are that they will not grow anywhere else in the world. Humidity and heat are a big influence in producing large, healthy, colorful, and delicious fruit year-round. Examples of Tropical fruits would be papaya, lemon, and the avocado.
Exotic Fruits are those that are cultivated and produced outside an area that they do not usually grow. There are many tropical fruits that are considered exotic as well. Many markets and restaurants will have exotic fruits flown in from Florida, Hawaii, and Mexico which are produced in their native zones.
Accessory Fruits such as apples and watermelon are defined as a false fruit where the fleshy part of the fruit is not derived from the ovaries (seeds) but from the hypanthia at the bottom of the plant that held the seeds.
The characteristics of an Accessory Fruit is that the fruit is a whitish-green color as it develops and eventually turns to a red, orange or yellow color when ripe. Examples of an Accessory Fruit are strawberries, apples, and watermelon.
When cross breeding two different species of fruit, the result is the hybridization of fruit that offers more nutrients, bigger fruit, and much sweeter than it’s natural form. Examples of delicious hybrids are mandarin oranges, boysenberries, and tangelos.
Fruit Categories: (The more common fruits are highlighted in bold)
A Visit to Exotica Rare Tropical Fruit Nursery in San Diego, CA
Varieties of Tropical fruit
Tropical fruits are commonly found in countries that are known for warmer climates such as Hawaii, the Philippines, South America, Southeast Asia, South Pacific, Fiji, and the Caribbean. The USDA zones best for tropical fruits are areas where the sun is at the head once a year and are known for its two seasons: wet and dry. Their intolerance for frost is a common bond that tropical fruits share.
Below are several tropical fruits with a few facts and characteristics to help identify your favorites when shopping for them.
Avocado, Banana, and Bilimbi
- The avocado is a delicious fruit with a leather-like outer skin that surrounds and protects a creamy smooth flesh that is greenish-yellow in color. Most avocados will range in weight anywhere from 8 ounces to 4 pounds depending on the variety of species.
- Avocados are known to have originated from Mexico.
- Varieties of the avocado are: Bacon, Haas, Lamb Haas, Reed, Zutano, Gwen, Pinkerton, and Fuerte.
- The Banana plant is one of the easier plants to cultivate. It is considered the largest herbaceous flowering plant in the tropical fruit species. Some Banana plant species are known to grow up to 25 feet tall with leaves expanding to 9 feet in length and 3 feet wide.
- Bananas are native to Southeast Asia.
- There are over 1200 banana plant species. A few of the most common are: Cavendish, Hua Moa, Mysore, Apple Banana, Hawaiian Black, and Ladyfinger.
- The bilimbi, also known as the cucumber tree cultivates a beautiful fruit that is crunchy when unripe. As it ripens, the fruit will turn from a bright green to a yellowish-green, and then fall to the ground. The outer skin is very thin and shiny while the flesh will be light green to white in color and very juicy as well as extremely sour. The bilimbi has very few seeds that are flat and brown in color. The bilimbi tree bears hundreds of fruits each year and is available throughout the year.
- The bilimbi tree is native to Malaysia and Indonesia.
- Since the bilimbi fruit is considered too acid for eating raw, the fruit is used mostly in soups, curries, and sauces.
Cacao, Canistel, and Damson
- The Cacao fruit can grow up to 4-11 inches long with a diameter of 2-4 inches. Their smooth hard shell is elongated or rounded. When harvested, the cacao fruit can be obtained colors of red, orange, and yellow. The shell of the cacao fruit surrounds anywhere from 20-60 seeds that are enveloped by a very aromatic pulp, which is cream in color and sweet-sour to the taste.
- The Cacao is native to the western and central Amazon region.
- The Cacao is primarily grown for chocolate uses
- The canistel fruit is often referred to as the “eggfruit” and is rarely grown within the United States. However, even though the canistel fruits are not available in most markets within the United States, they are available in Florida and are very popular with the locals there.
- The polished exterior skin of the canistel fruit will vary in color from yellow to orange hues upon ripening. The canistel fruit has a soft flesh which is dry like a boiled egg yolk. Most of the time they are consumed fresh, but are also used for cooking and baking (particularly pies). They are also used as an excellent source in ice cream.
- They are found in the Bahamas and similar warm and balmy climates.
- The damson is a beautiful oval-shaped fruit that displays a dark indigo skin and opens up to a yellowish flesh. There are some varieties of damson that may have a reddish or purple skin as well. The fruit will have a sour or sweet taste.
- The damson tree will spring forth small white flowers in the spring that have both male and female organs which are pollinated by insects. The flowers become fruits and ripen anywhere from July through November.
Lablab, Golden Apple
Lablab (Hyacinth Bean)
- Grown as an ornamental plant in the United States, the LabLab is widely popular as a food in Africa, Asia, Central, and South America. This vine grown plant displays large broad leaves. The LabLab seeds are approximately a half inch long with colors of white to brown, and red or black.
- Lablab is known for its uses in the grain food group, such as bread and pasta.
- The Lablab fruit originated in Africa, India, and Indonesia
The Golden Apple (June Plum)
- The Golden Apple is a fast growing tropical tree that can reach up to a height of 75 feet. Its tiny white flowers grow in clusters and produce a fruit that is oblong and will turn a beautiful golden yellow upon ripening. Its taste is similar to the pineapple which can be anywhere from sweet to acidic. The fruit is the same size as an average plum and grows in clusters at the end of the branches.
- The Golden Apple tree is native to the South Pacific and the Caribbean Islands
Breadfruit (Jackfruit Family)
- The Breadfruit is vital fruit that has been part of the Pacific for more than 3,000 years. Known to have originated from Mexico, the breadfruit is round in shape with a bumpy or spiny textured skin that is green in color. Once ripened, the breadfruit will produce a sap on the outside that will cause the fruit to appear more yellowish than green. This nutritious fruit as well as the seeds are completely edible. The breadfruit is soft and fragrant with a creamy yellowish flesh.
- It takes approximately 2-3 years for the tree to produce fruit after planting, but will continue to produce fruit for decades.
- The Breadfruit is used as a vegetable and can be baked, boiled, fried, roasted, and broiled.
Papaya, Sweet Orange, Watermelon
- One of the most popular and definitely the tastiest of tropical fruits is the Papaya. The Papaya is more commonly located in USDA zoned areas that have higher humidity such as Central America, Thailand, Asia and Africa, South Pacific, Australia, and Mexico.
- The Papaya tree is also popular for landscaping purposes and is abundantly used throughout coastal and southern Texas. Rich in Vitamins A and C, this large pear shaped fruit is green, yellow and orange in color with a beautiful soft flesh ranging from a light to dark rich orange color. When cut open, you will find hundreds of shiny black pearl shaped seeds nestled in the cavities of the center of the fruit. The Papaya is available in many varieties: Kamiah, Mexican Red, Solo, Vista Solo, Waimanalo, Sunrise and Sunset, Kapoho, and Mexican Yellow.
Sweet Orange (Blood Orange)
- The Sweet Orange is a small to large fruit that is spotted with red or yellow in color. Where the Sweet Orange can be very sweet, it can also be very sour.
- Rich in Vitamin C and Potassium, the rind of the Sweet Orange contains essential oils that are used not only for cooking, but for perfumery and healing purposes as well.
- The Sweet Orange is known in the following categories: Navel, Non-Acid, Blood, Mandarin, and Bitter.
- Watermelon has been an American favorite for centuries. A fruit that is really a vegetable, the Watermelon is traced back to the cucumber and squash family that originated in Africa. The Watermelon evolved from mostly rind and seeds to a variety of large melons with a sweeter flesh, smaller seeds, and a thinner rind. Watermelon is the most preferred food for meals and snacks and thirst quencher.
- The Watermelon has over 50 varieties including the most common: Ice-Box, Seedless, Allsweet, and Yellow Flesh.
- Watermelons are usually grown to 20-25 pounds, but have known to grow bigger. They are oblong with a dark green rind with and without stripes and a sweet juicy flesh.
Lemon, Custard Apple, Hairless Rambutan
- The citrus industry is one of the most important and largest industry in the world concentrating heavily in New South Wales (NSW). Australia alone produces over $200 million annually and is considered the largest fresh citrus fruit exporter.
- The primary citrus fruits that are grown in the NSW are Valencia and Navel oranges, lemons, mandarins, limes, and grapefruit.
- Lemons are wonderful in cooking, salads, baking, and perfect as slices in a refreshing glass of ice cold water.
- Lemons are used as a medicinal and healing alternative and in beauty products as well.
- Lemons are very popular in industrial cleaners and homemade products for natural cleansers and deodorizers.
Custard (Sugar) Apple
- The Custard Apple is a sweet fleshy fruit that is white or light yellow in color and resembles the look and taste of custard. The fruit is generally round in shape or a little pine-cone shape with a sweet smelling fragrance.
- The Custard Apple fruit grows on a small semi-evergreen tree and is indigenous to lower warmer tropical elevations that are humid.
- Custard (Sugar) Apple trees are very popular in South Florida and rarely exceed up to 20 feet in height and width.
- Custard (Sugar) Apple trees are very popular in South Florida and rarely exceed up to 20 feet in height and width.
- The Custard Apple is high in Vitamin C which assists in the neutralization of free radicals in the body
- The Custard Apple is also rich in vitamin A for healthy hair and good vision.
- High in potassium and vitamin B6, and Magnesium for a healthy heart
- The Custard Apple is low in fat, cholesterol, and sodium
- The Rambutan fruit is known for its naturally reddish, sometimes orange and yellow color skin covered in hair.
- The Rambutan fruit is basically round or oval in shape and up to six cm in diameter.
- Grown in clusters, the Rambutan has a leather-like skin with soft, flexible thorns with a brown soft seed in the middle of a sweet opaque flesh (similar to the lychee Hairless Rambutan fruit)
- The Rambutan’s seed is considered poisonous, however, it can be eaten after it is cooked.
- The Rambutan tree actually looks like an overgrown Christmas tree. When the fruit is ripe, the flesh will separate from the seed quite easily and is very sweet.
- The Rambutan fruit can be eaten by itself, or great in salads.
Musk Melons (Cantaloupe), Vanilla, Sweet Pepper
Musk Melon (Cantaloupe)
- The Musk Melon (better known as the Cantaloupe) is generally available during the months of
- May through September and are grown primarily in California, Arizona, and Texas.
- The Musk Melon (Cantaloupe) is noted for its rough rind and a soft golden orange flesh that is very sweet when ripe.
- The Musk Melon can be easily contaminated while in the field from soil and unclean irrigation water, as well as animal feces. It is very important to use a vegetable brush and scrub your Musk Melon thoroughly under running water prior to cutting and serving.
- Looking for signs of ripeness with your Musk Melons is important to ensure a tasty, nutritious melon. A ripe Musk Melon will display a yellowish color to the rind and also a sweet pleasant aroma. By placing the thumb on the blossom end of the fruit, the melon will yield when slightly pressed.
- Most Musk Melons (Cantaloupes) are not quite ripe when purchased in the grocery store. Be sure to set them aside for 2-4 days at room temperature to allow the melons to ripen completely. Once ripened, place melons in the refrigerator for a couple of hours to chill before cutting and serving.
- Did you know that Vanilla is considered a tropical fruit? Vanilla is a flavor which is derived from the orchid and is used extensively as a spice or flavoring agent in cooking, baking, home remedies, and much more.
- The United States and Europe are the largest consumers of Vanilla.
- Approximately 1500 tons of dried Vanilla is produced annually worldwide.
- There are approximately 150 varieties of Vanilla plant species, out of which only two are used commercially: Bourbon and Tahitian.
- Vanilla is the most expensive spice next to Saffron.
- Sweet Peppers are grown in a variety of colors including green (the most popular), red, orange, yellow, and purple. There is a white pepper which is very rare and not used very often. Although the green pepper is the most commonly used, it is the least sweetest of all the pepper varieties.
- Red peppers have more vitamins and nutrients than the green pepper. They also contain an antioxidant called Lycopene. Red peppers also have twice the amount of Vitamin C as do the green peppers.
- Sweet Peppers are great for salads, stuffed, and baking.
- Sweet peppers aid in normalizing your blood pressure levels and a great cancer preventive. The high Vitamin C content (especially in the red peppers) helps in preventing Blood Clotting.
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About the Author
Lisa has directed and acted in musical theatre for nearly 30 years. Her musical upbringing allowed her to pursue her career in teaching and directing and continues to direct shows today. As the owner of 2 online Home Décor sites, Lisa’s passion for Rustic Living all begins with her love for the home, outdoors, and her many hobbies. Lisa loves to laugh, and she share’s that love through her comedic hubs centered on her MOM. Lisa’s passions include writing, directing, acting, photography, singing, cooking, crafts, gardening, and home improvement, including decorating. Lisa also writes under her penned name, Elizabeth Rayen.