Tropical Fruits

Avocado (Persea americana)

The common name avocado comes from the word ‘ahuácatl’ in Nahuatl, means testicle in the Mexican language Nahuatl, referring to the shape of the fruits. some believe avocados increase fertility.

Family: Lauraceae
Edible part(s):
 fruit – berry
Native region(s): tropical America
Climate: tropical, moist, require a lot of water, well-drained soil 
Life cycle:
perennial
Appearance:
avocado fruits grow on large trees that have leathery leaves that are dark green on top and pale green on the underside. The pear-shaped avocado fruit has a hard rind, soft green or yellow flesh, and one large seed/pit inside. The two main cultivated varieties of avocado are: Persea americana ‘Fuerte’ has smooth, shiny green skin and Persea american ‘Haas’ has thick dark purple skin.
Aroma: grassy, nutty, fatty, sweet, and resinous
Taste: sweet
Flavor: rich and nutty, texture is soft, buttery, creamy
Nutritional value: vitamin E, potassium, low sodium
Culinary uses: fruit eaten in salads, dips, on toast, smoothies, ice cream, desserts; leaves used in bean stews and to wrap bread or cheese, avocado honey made from the nectar of avocado trees

Banana

Family: Musaceae
Edible part(s):
fruit – berry
Native region(s): Southeast Asia & Pacific islands
Climate:  tropical
Life cycle:
perennial
Appearance:
the banana plant is technically a giant herb. It looks like a tree but has a false trunk that can be up to 20 feet high. A crown of large leaves branches out at the top and a large flower spike grows from the top of the false trunk and bends down as the large cluster of fruits become heavy. Each trunk produces one bunch of fruit that grows in clusters, or hands of 10 to 20 bananas each. The trunk is cut down after the fruit is harvested and new shoots emerge from the underground rhizomes.
Aroma: sweet bananas are banana, fruity, grassy, clove, buttery. starchy plantains are grassy, spicy, fruity, woody.
Taste: sweet
Flavor: sweet, soft
Nutritional value: vitamins B & C, potassium, manganese, fiber
Culinary uses: sweet Cavendish bananas are eaten raw and cooked, in pies, puddings, cakes, muffins, fried, mashed. Starchy plantains are cooked – fried, boiled, mashed.

Coconut (Cocos nucifera)

Family: Arecaceae
Edible part(s):
fruit – nut
Native region(s):  Southeast Asia, India
Climate:  tropical 
Life cycle:
perennial
Appearance:
The coconut palm tree grows up to 80 feet tall. the fruit has milky white meat that is rich and nutty.
Aroma: creamy, coconut, nutty, fruity, fatty
Taste: sweet
Flavor: sweet, creamy
Nutritional value: high in fat
Culinary uses: eaten raw and cooked, made into coconut milk, coconut oil, coconut water.

Dragon Fruit, Pitaya (Selenicereus)

Also known as strawberry pear, these showy cactus fruits make up in looks for what lacks in flavor.

Family: Cactaceae
Edible part(s):
fruit, flowers
Native region(s): Mexico, Central America
Climate: tropical, subtropical
Life cycle:
Appearance:
fruit of a cactus, leathery, scaly skin with spikes. the flesh is red, white, or yellow and specked with tiny, crunchy black seeds.
Aroma: 
Taste:sweet or sour 
Flavor: 
Nutritional value: vitamins C & K, potassium, high water content
Culinary uses: flowers are eaten or made into tea

Guava (Psidium guajava)

Guava belongs to the myrtaceae family, along with cloves, eucalyptus, nutmeg, and cinnamon.

Family: Myrtaceae – myrtle
Edible part(s):
fruit – berry, and leaves
Native region(s): Tropical America – Central America, West Indies
Climate: tropical, subtropical 
Life cycle:
perennial
Appearance:
Guavas are round or pear shaped fruits that are smaller than a baseball and grow on small tropical trees or shrubs. The fruit is a berry and has a thin rind that ranges in color from green to yellow to maroon. The pulpy flesh can be creamy white or deep pink, and has small hard seeds inside. Many varieties of guava, the five main types are: the esteemed pear-shaped guava with pink, sweet, strawberry flesh, bland green apple shaped with white flesh, small red Cattley guava with white raspberry-flavored flesh, Brazil guava eaten with goat cheese in South America, the Cannonball guava has edible seeds and a ring one-third of the way down.
Aroma: grassy, grapefruit, blackcurrant, fruity, caramel, floral aroma. distinct, reminiscent of rose, apples, passionfruit, and strawberries.
Taste: ranges from sweet to sour.
Flavor: sweet-tart, tangy, similar to pear and strawberry.
Nutritional value: vitamin C, potassium, fiber
Culinary uses: eaten raw and cooked. Fresh guava is best eaten when barely ripe because the flesh becomes mealy when fully ripe.

 

Jackfruit (Artocarpus heterophyllus)

Family: Moraceae
Edible part(s):
fruit – multiple fruit made of hundreds of individual flowers, fleshy petals of unripe fruit are eaten, seeds, leaves
Native region(s): Southeast Asia
Climate: tropical
Life cycle:
perennial
Appearance:
the jackfruit tree is the largest tree fruit, producing fruit that can weigh up to 120 pounds.
Aroma: sweet, fruity, hints of banana or pineapple
Taste: sweet
Flavor: ripe jackfruit has a sweet flavor with hints of pineapple or banana. canned green jackfruit has a mild flavor and meat-like texture.
Nutritional value: vitamins B & C, potassium, fiber, high water content
Culinary uses: eaten raw and cooked, ripe and unripe, canned, frozen, made into noodles, chips, desserts like cakes, shaved ice, custard,. young jackfruit leaves are eaten and mature leaves are used to wrap foods that are steamed. seeds from ripe fruits are edible after being cooked – boiled, baked, roasted.

 

Kiwi, or Chinese gooseberry (Actinidia chinensis var. deliciosa)

Chinese gooseberries, also known as kiwi and gold kiwi, are larger than gooseberries and they are brown and fuzzy.

Family: Actinidiaceae
Edible part(s):
fruit – berry, and leaves
Native region(s): Asia – China
Climate: tropical, subtropical, temperate
Life cycle:
perennial
Appearance:
the kiwi plant is a woody vine with alternate green leaves. the fruit is oblong, the shape of an egg, with brown fuzzy, or hairy skin. the flowers are white and fragrant. kiwi fruit is bright green inside, firm but soft, and contains a thick ring of beautiful tiny black seeds around a creamy, white center. Gold kiwi has yellow flesh and is less common than green kiwi.
Aroma: kiwi is green, solvent, fruity. gold kiwi is fruity, fresh, fatty, tropical.
Taste: sweet
Flavor: sweet, slightly tart, grassy, fruity, hints of strawberry, pineapple, banana
Nutritional value: vitamin C, E & K, antioxidants, folate, copper, fiber
Culinary uses: usually eaten raw, can be cooked

 

 

Lychee (Litchi chinensis Sonn.)

Lychee, litchi, lichee

Family: Sapindaceae – soapberry 
Edible part(s):
fruit
Native region(s): Asia – China, Southeast Asia
Climate: tropical and subtropical 
Life cycle:
perennial
Appearance: 
Lychee are small fruits that grow on trees. The fruits are round or oval, they have a brittle outer rind that is red or pink and rough to the touch. Lychees have one large, smooth, inedible brown seed inside, which is surrounded by tender translucent, white flesh.
Aroma: highly aromatic, with a floral-rose, lemon, violet, green, citrus, sulfurous
Taste: sweet
Flavor: fresh lychee is sweet, flowery, musky. dried lychee pulp is acidic and very sweet
Nutritional value: vitamin C, antioxidants, copper, potassium, high water content
Culinary uses: eaten raw and cooked, in jelly, juice, wine, ice cream

Mango (Mangifera indica)

Family: member of the cashew family
Edible part(s):
fruit
Native region(s): Southeast Asia,  India
Climate: tropical and subtropical 
Life cycle:
perennial
Appearance:
Mango fruits grow on large trees. The size and shape of mangos varies widely, from oval, round, kidney-shaped, heart shaped, or long and thin. Mango skin can be red, yellow, and green. The flesh is yellow to orange, tender, succulent, and has a sweet taste.
Aroma:  fragrant, and has a fruity, pineapple, caramel, resin-turpentine, tropical/passion fruit, sulfurous, peach coconut aroma
Taste: sweet
Flavor: sweet, fruity, hints of peach, pineapple, caramel, cucumber, soft, juicy, succulent
Nutritional value: vitamins A, B & C, antioxidants, copper, folate, fiber, high water content
Culinary uses: eaten raw and cooked, in salads, salsas, smoothies

Papaya (Carica papaya)

Family: Caricaceae
Edible part(s): fruit – berry, seeds, leaves
Native region(s): Central and South America
Climate: tropical
Life cycle: perennial
Appearance: papaya tree grows up to 30 feet tall, has large leaves, the fruits are large and oblong, can be the size of a football. the skin of unripe fruit is green and turns yellow to orange when ripe. the flesh of the fruit is yellow, orange, or red and there is a large cavity inside filled with small round black seeds. 
Aroma: floral, radish, wintergreen, resiny, fruity, coconut, violet
Taste: sweet
Flavor: sweet, soft, succulent
Nutritional value: vitamin C, folate, high water content
Culinary uses: fruit is usually eaten raw, fresh, in fruit salads, juice, jam. unripe fruit is eaten cooked or raw. Leaves can be boiled, seeds have a sharp, spicy flavor.

Passion fruit (Passiflora edulis)

Family: Passifloraceae
Edible part(s): fruit
Native region(s): South America – Paraguay, Brazil, Argentina
Climate: tropical
Life cycle: perennial
Appearance: the passionfruit plant is an evergreen climbing vine with glossy leaves and large, elaborate flowers that bloom for one day. the fruits are round, slightly oval, and have a tough rind that is purple or yellow depending on the variety. there are many black edible seeds inside the fruit, and each seed is surrounded by a sac of juice. 
Aroma: fruity, floral, caramel, blackcurrant, grapefruit, tropical, sulfurous
Taste: sweet-tart, tangy
Flavor: sharp flavor, notes of orange, mandarin, pineapple
Nutritional value: vitamins A & C, fiber
Culinary uses: eaten raw and cooked, usually raw in desserts, drinks.

 

Pineapple (Ananas comosus)

Family: Bromeliaceae
Edible part(s): fruit –
Native region(s): South America – Brazil
Climate: tropical, grown indoors in temperate climates
Life cycle: perennial
Appearance: The pineapple plant grows up to 4 feet high. It has stiff, pointy, gray-green leaves with sawtoothed edges form in a rosette. Flowers that range from purple to red in color bloom in a large inflorescence and form a pineapple fruit (a syncarp) that can be up to 1 foot long. 
Aroma: caramel, fruity, pineapple, fresh, coconut
Taste: sweet
Flavor: sweet, start, bright
Nutritional value: vitamins B & C, antioxidants, manganese
Culinary uses: eaten raw and cooked, eaten fresh, grilled, baked.