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What is a Tropical Fruit?

Mango is a popular tropical fruit.
Papaya is a type of tropical fruit.
Pineapple is a delicious tropical fruit.
Dates are a type of tropical fruit.
Guavas are well-known tropical fruits.
Pomegranates.
Bunch of bananas.
Avocados are a tropical fruit.
Whole and cut passion fruit.
Jackfruit is a lesser-known tropical fruit.
Cut lychee showing showing the flesh and pit.
Dragon fruit cut in half.
Kiwi fruit.
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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 13 April 2014
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Tropical fruit is any fruit produced by a tree native to the tropics. The tropics are generally defined as the region of the globe between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn, and the environmental conditions there are unique, creating a habitat for incredibly diverse animals and plants. Many tropical fruits have been used by humans for centuries, and certain fruits are in high demand all over the world.

Several things about the growing conditions in the tropics are unique, setting the stage for trees, vines, and other plants which grow nowhere else in the world. The most obvious distinguishing feature of the tropics is the heat. The tropics are warm, year-round, and they are also very humid, with some areas receiving lots of rain every year. Plants in this area have adapted to this climate, and many tropical fruits are large, brightly colored, and very flavorful so that they appeal to the animals they rely on to distribute their seeds.

Some tropical fruits are pretty well known all over the world. Pomegranates, mangoes, papayas, avocados, bananas, pineapples, guavas, star fruits, kiwis, dates, and passion fruit are some well-known examples. In fact, the banana is one of the highest selling fruits around the world, thanks to the ease with which it can be grown, harvested, and transported. Many of these fruits are available in big markets year-round, thanks to a steady supply of fruit from the tropics.

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Other tropical fruit cultivars are more obscure. While they may be popular in specific regions of the world, they are not familiar to people outside of these areas, and some of them are definitely an acquired taste. Some more obscure examples of tropical fruit include: soursops, cherimoyas, sugar apples, jackfruit, pawpaws, durian, acerolas, mamey, akee, breadfruit, lychees, rambutans, and mangosteens. Some of these fruits, like jackfruit and durian, are infamous for their strong odor and flavor, while others like mangosteens, lychees, and cherimoyas are, quite simply, delicious, but difficult to cultivate, making it hard to promote them.

Many people associate the tropics with exoticism, and as a result, tropical fruit often has an exotic flare. Some types are also very fragile, making transport challenging and adding to the excitement for consumers who can get them, since many people prize rarity. For people who live in the tropics, of course, there's nothing terribly exotic about fruits which grow as readily as weeds in the back yard, but the same fruits which plague homeowners in places like Hawaii fetch a high price at market in regions like Sweden. Many tropical fruits are particularly flavorful, sweet, juicy, and tender, making them appealing to people of all ages.

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Discuss this Article

golf07
Post 10

If I am at a buffet where there is a huge variety of food being served, the first place I usually go is where the fresh fruit is. If there is a bowl of tropical fruit that has a combination of pineapple, bananas, kiwi and mangoes, that is what I love and will usually have seconds on.

I am not a vegetarian, but prefer a big bowl of tropical fruit over a steak any day. Pomegranates are one tropical fruit that seem to be getting more popular all the time. I have been drinking pomegranate juice for awhile, but recently I had my first piece of pomegranate fruit and I really enjoyed the sweet taste.

John57
Post 9

I have heard of mangosteen fruit only because I see this in a juice that has been advertised to offer a lot of health benefits. I am not surprised to find out that bananas are one of the highest selling tropical fruits.

You can find bananas at most every grocery store and they are pretty inexpensive. I have met very few people who don't like bananas, and this is one of the first fruits most toddlers are introduced to.

honeybees
Post 8

@julies -- While a warm tropical climate does sound inviting, I think there are some disadvantages to it as well. Like the article said, there is usually a lot of humidity and rain that goes along with the tropical climate, not to mention lots of bugs. Since I don't like high humidity or rain, I don't know if I would like living in this type of climate all year long or not.

I do love to eat all kinds of tropical fruit though. I would love to try some of the rare kinds of fruit mentioned in this article, but have never even heard of most of them.

When we were in Hawaii we toured a Dole pineapple plantation. We got to try some samples and it was the sweetest pineapple I have ever had. The fruit tastes much better when you can eat it ripe from the tree. After it has been transported across the country, it isn't nearly as tasteful.

julies
Post 7
@giddion -- I agree with you, and have always thought I would love to live in a place where it is warm all year long. How wonderful it would be to have so many kinds of tropical fruit growing in your own back yard. I can't plant any tropical fruit trees where I live because our climate is much too cold. I am thankful that I can purchase several varieties of tropical fruit at my grocery store all year long though.
giddion
Post 6

It would be so awesome to live somewhere that produces fresh tropical fruit. My personal favorite is star fruit, because it tastes unlike anything I've ever tried. I love how you can slice into it and make star shapes.

Kristee
Post 5

@DylanB – This reminds me of tropical fruit and nut granola bars. I take them with me when I travel sometimes, and they are like trail mix in bar form.

I have to say that I do prefer actual fruit to the dried version, though. Nothing tastes as good as a fresh pineapple.

I buy the whole pineapple from the grocery store and wait until the bottom smells ripe. Then, I slice off the top and sides and cut it into chunks by going around the core.

It tastes amazing and exotic. I also like grilling it after brushing it with brown sugar, honey, and soy sauce. It makes an excellent side dish for grilled chicken.

DylanB
Post 4

I eat dried tropical fruit as a snack. There are bits of pineapple, mango, and orange in my favorite blend.

It won't do anything for your hydration, but it still gives you nutrients. I prefer to snack on this at my desk instead of eating a chocolate bar from the vending machine.

Perdido
Post 3

I buy tropical fruits every week. It's so nice to be able to get them in my supermarket, even though I'm hundreds of miles away from the tropics.

I eat a banana every morning. It's full of potassium, and it prevents me from getting painful leg cramps.

I also make banana smoothies, once the fruit has gotten extremely ripe. I blend a banana with a few scoops of vanilla yogurt and some milk, and it makes a delicious smoothie. I don't even have to add sugar, because ripe bananas are very sweet, and the yogurt is also sweetened.

WaterHopper
Post 2

@oceanswimmer: I am also a big fan of mangoes. My husband and I visited a quaint little restaurant in Kentucky and they served a dish called Mango Fool. I told the waitress that we were from out of town and asked her if there was any way she could get me the recipe. She got it for me and it is so wonderful!

You need ¼ cup heavy cream, 1 ¼ tsp. unflavored gelatin, 1 ½ Tbsp. lime juice, 3 large ripe mangoes with the flesh coarsely chopped to equal 4 cups OR a drained can of mangoes (1 lb. 14 oz.) and ¼ cup sugar.

In a small cup, sprinkle the gelatin over lime juice and let it stand for one minute. Puree the mangoes with the sugar in a blender until smooth. Melt the softened gelatin in a cup in a pan of simmering water. You can also do that in the microwave. Stir that into the puree.

Beat the cream with a mixer until it has a stiff peak and fold it into the puree. Chill it and serve.

OceanSwimmer
Post 1

Are tropical fruits usually eaten by themselves or are there some recipes with tropical fruit in them? I especially like mangoes.

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