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Last updated: December 1, 2022
A list of 35 exotic fruits from around the world. Rare, and sometimes even weird, tropical fruits with unique shapes and flavors.
When looking at the range of fruits available in the supermarkets, you may think there is much to choose from. And actually, there is, but did you know that this range is only the tip of the fruit iceberg?
There are so many lesser-known fruits out there that we may have never seen before in any grocery store, which makes these fruits all the more exciting.
The best chance to find some of these unique fruits is by visiting a specialty grocery store or an authentic Asian supermarket. Or even better, book a holiday to some tropical paradise and you will find lots of them.
Top 35 Tropical Fruits
In no particular order, here are 35 exotic tropical fruits you may have never seen or even heard of. They all have their own unique, weird, and unusual shapes, flavors, colors, and nutritional benefits.
1. Cherimoya Fruit
The cherimoya may not look overly appealing at first glance, but when you cut this green fruit in half and eat its delicious flesh, you will want more of it.
Cherimoyas are native to South America and have been introduced to various other warm climates, such as in southern Europe, South Asia, and Africa. The flesh of the cherimoya is of a creamy, custard-like texture which is why this fruit is also referred to as the custard apple.
The cherimoya fruit is very refreshing and tastes a bit like a combination of banana, pineapple, and strawberry. Eating a cherimoya is very easy, and while eating it raw (without the seeds) is the best option, you can also use this fruit in ice cream, smoothies, and soups.
The durian fruit is by many known as the smelly fruit. While it may be true that the scent of a durian’s flesh doesn’t appeal to everyone, it is quite a healthy and nutritious fruit that you should try at least once. Block your nose if you have to!
Native to Malaysia and Indonesia, many people in Southeast Asia consider durian to be the king of fruits. But don’t be surprised when people run away when you cut through its spiky skin to access the thick, custard-like flesh.
Food writer Richard Sterling once described the odor of durian fruit as follows:
“A mix of pig sh#t, turpentine, and onions, garnished with a gym sock.”
Ouch! But don’t let that put you off; it’s a delicious fruit, and the best place to find durian fruit is at Asian grocery stores.
3. Miracle Fruit
Native to West Africa, the miracle fruit may be small but it is gifted with the power to make sour fruits taste sweet, like magic.
Mix the juice of this berry with the juice of lemons or limes, and you’ll get a delicious drink.
A molecule called miraculin has the ability to manipulate tongue receptors in a way that we interpret sour foods as sweet. A small miracle indeed!
Because of this chemical, the miracle fruit has often been tried as a better alternative to artificial sweeteners.
4. Kiwano Fruit
The spiky and bright yellow/orange skin of kiwano fruit, also known as horned melon, will immediately grab your attention once you see it.
And when you cut a kiwano fruit open, the soft, green flesh on the inside may surprise you even more.
Native to southern and central Africa, the kiwano fruit is a rare combination of a cucumber and a melon. It tastes like a mix of banana, cucumber, zucchini, and kiwifruit. They can be a bit pricey in the US, but it’s worth a try.
Some say it has a somewhat dull taste, but I love it. It’s good for you, too, as it’s low in calories and rich in a variety of vitamins and minerals, such as magnesium, potassium, and vitamins A and C.
The mangosteen tree is an evergreen tree believed to have originated in the Moluccas (Indonesia) and the Sunda Islands.
The fruits from the mangosteen tree are dark-red or purple, with white flesh that is deliciously sweet and juicy.
The mangosteen fruit is a real treat, high in fiber and low in calories.
While the tasty and nutritious mangosteen fruit has gained popularity in recent years, it’s a fruit that’s still very hard to find.
With the looks of a miniature, oval-shaped orange, the kumquat (or cumquat) is a delicious citrus fruit. Kumquats are very similar to oranges regarding their nutritional profile and the way they look, but much smaller.
The evergreen kumquat tree (it’s actually more of a plant) is native to China and South Asia but has also been introduced to Europe and North America.
The most surprising part is that the peel of kumquats is also edible. In fact, the peel is where most of the nutrients are stored, such as essential oils and dietary fiber. Read more about how to eat a kumquat fruit in my guide which also includes handy recipe tips.
7. Cupuaçu Fruit
Brazilians like to think of Cupuaçu as an alternative to cocoa and chocolate.
Cupuaçu (pronounced “coo-poo-asoo”) stems from the Sterculiaceae plant family of which cacao and chocolate are the most famous products.
The pulp of the Cupuaçu fruit is tasty and smells a bit like banana. It’s a very rich and nutritious fruit that makes you feel quite satisfied.
Cupuacu is quite a unique exotic fruit that you won’t easily find in the United States, but you may be able to find it in the form of shampoo, lotion, powder, butter, or juice, if you look hard enough.
8. Rambutan Fruit
Rambut is Malay for “hair”, and looking at the fruit, this makes perfect sense.
The Rambutan fruit is native to tropical Southeast Asia (in particular the Malay-Indonesian region), and is very closely related to the lychee.
The tender fruit inside a Rambutan is best described as sweet and sour, similar to a grape. Eating a rambutan fruit is easy too, and you can it fresh or add it to salads, marinades, and even cocktails.
Rambutan is a delicious treat with a solid nutritional profile. While it’s pretty easy to find in some Asian countries, you may need a bit of luck finding this fruit at your local specialty grocery store in the US or Europe.
Check out my list of red fruits for more fruits with beautiful red skin.
Feijoa is also known as pineapple guava or guavasteen, and is native to South America, but also commercially grown in California and New Zealand.
The flesh of feijoa fruit is cream-colored with a rather unique jelly-like substance in the center.
A great source of vitamin C and dietary fiber, feijoas are getting more popular and regularly pop up in bigger grocery stores and specialty markets.
10. Buddha’s Hand
Likely the most unusually shaped fruit in this list, the Buddha’s hand is actually a citrus fruit, but without the pulp.
Originating from India and China, the weird looking Buddha’s hand doesn’t taste as bitter, and is mostly used for zesting and flavoring purposes.
Check out my list of yellow fruits for more fruits that are yellow on the inside and the outside.
11. Snake Fruit
The snake fruit is produced by the salak tree, a palm tree family native to Sumatra and Java in Indonesia.
Salak is now also being cultivated in other regions in and around Indonesia, which has resulted in different variations of the fruit.
Perhaps the best spot to find a snake fruit is Bali, one of Indonesia’s most popular tourist destinations. Like many other tropical fruits, snake fruit is quite popular there.
The inside of a snake fruit looks a bit like large garlic cloves. Depending on the type and ripeness of the fruit, the texture varies from crunchy to crumbly, with a mix of bitter, acidic, and sweet flavors.
12. Dragon Fruit
Perhaps not as rare or as unique as most other treats in this list of exotic fruits, the dragon fruit is still my personal favorite.
Also known as pitaya, dragon fruit is native to South America, Central America, and Mexico, and is also grown in Asian regions.
The texture of the flesh is very much like the juicy flesh of kiwifruit, with similar tiny, edible black seeds inside. It tastes a bit like a mix of pear, kiwifruit, and watermelon.
Dragon fruit is about the size of a large potato and is usually red (magenta) in color, although it can also be pink and yellow.
The flesh can be either red, yellow, or white, and whichever color you choose, pitaya is an absolutely delicious tropical fruit.
13. Langsat Fruit
The langsat fruit is widely grown in parts of Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, and Sumatra.
Similar in appearance to the rambutan fruit, the flesh of the langsat fruit also resembles a lychee.
While the langsat fruit may have the looks of a small potato, its taste is delicious and unique, like a mix of grapes, bananas, and grapefruits.
The cucamelon fruit goes by a lot of other names, such as mouse melon, Mexican sour cucumber and Mexican miniature watermelon.
Native to Mexico and Central America, cucamelon is an odd mix of watermelon and cucumber.
It tastes like cucumber, but with a bit of sourness to it.
With 90 cm (35 inch) in length and 50 cm (20 inch) in diameter, the fruit of the jackfruit tree (also known as jack tree) is the largest tree-borne fruit.
It may look similar to durian, but they are in fact from different families, and luckily, jackfruit doesn’t smell as bad as durian does.
Named the national fruit of Bangladesh, a Jackfruit tree can produce up to 200 fruits in a year. Considering the size of the fruit, that is a lot of food!
Soursop, also known as graviola, or custard apple, is a large, green tropical fruit with flesh that tastes sweet and sour.
Native to Central America and the Caribbean Islands, soursop is often used as the basis for several beverages, ice creams, and other sweet foods popular in South America.
Soursop has grown in popularity with herbal practitioners who recommend the fruit and leaves of the tree as a relief for various ailments.
17. Aguaje Fruit
Very popular in the Amazon rain forest, aguaje fruit is a great source of vitamins A and C.
The fruit has a dark-red scaly skin with yellow flesh inside that, surprisingly, contains a hard nut.
Also called the “curvy fruit”, rumor has it that this fruit helps women to get curves in all the right places, but I’m not too sure about that.
18. Pepino Fruit
The pepino (solanum muricatum) is best described as a weird mix between a pear and a melon.
Common in South America, the pepino is related to nightshades such as eggplants and tomatoes.
With a sweet taste similar to cucumber and honeydew melon, the pepino is entirely edible, including the skin.
The plantain (or cooking banana) looks almost exactly like a banana, but it is a different fruit.
While it’s part of the banana family, the plantain is low in sugar and should not be eaten raw.
Popular in West Africa, Central America, and The Caribbean, the plantain is usually fried, boiled, or turned into a soup.
20. Longan Fruit
Native to tropical Asia and China, the longan is a tropical tree related to the lychee fruit tree. The longan fruit is an exotic little treat, often referred to as dragon’s eye.
Longans have long been popular in China, not just because of their mild and fresh flavors but also due to their claimed health benefits.
Longan means “dragon eye” in Cantonese and is so named because the fruit resembles an eyeball, with the black seed inside being the pupil.
Often sold as dried or canned fruits, longan is a rich source of vitamin C, vitamin B2, copper, and potassium, and is reasonably low in calories.
Unfortunately, though, longan fruits can be really hard to find outside Asia, but you may get lucky in Asian grocery stores or large fruit markets.
Stemming from the same soapberry family as the lychee, the rambutan, and the longan, the ackee is native to tropical West Africa and is considered the national fruit of Jamaica.
The ackee is a rather tricky fruit as it has a reputation as being poisonous, so much so that supposedly consuming this fruit when it’s unripe can be fatal.
The edible part of the ackee fruit is the yellow-colored flesh attached to the dark seeds. The skin and the seeds are the poisonous bits of the ackee and should never be consumed.
Ackee is super popular in Jamaica and is used in several dishes. The fruit’s flesh can be eaten and is typically parboiled in salted water or milk. It is mainly sold as a canned product.
22. Black Sapote
Also known as chocolate pudding fruit (!), the truly unique black sapote will appeal to many, for obvious reasons.
Native to Mexico, the Caribbean and Central America, the black sapote is a species of persimmon is a smooth fruit that does indeed resemble chocolate pudding.
The weird thing about the black sapote is that it needs to be super ripe in order to be consumed. It literally needs to look like it’s rotten, and that’s when you can safely eat the inside flesh.
The inside of the fruit is dark and actually looks kind of gross, but apparently, that’s how it’s meant to be.
Note that the flesh doesn’t taste like chocolate at all, which may be disappointing if that’s what the expectation was.
23. Finger Lime
An exotic fruit with flesh that looks like caviar… The Australian finger lime is often referred to as caviar lime because the flesh inside consists of round, pulpy bits.
It’s a highly unusual citrus fruit and has become more popular in recent times because it’s such a unique delicacy that works well in various dishes.
Eating a finger lime is easy. Cut the fruit through the center, and then gently squeeze out the little pieces of pulp that you can then eat.
The little bulbs burst inside your mouth when chewing them, which makes them quite pleasant to eat. Yum!
The tropical breadfruit is strongly related to the jackfruit and can be eaten when cooked and in raw form.
The most common way to consume breadfruit is by roasting, baking, or boiling them. You can do this when they are still unripe. If you do want to eat raw breadfruit, they need to be ripe.
When eaten raw, breadfruit has a somewhat creamy and bland potato-like taste. When cooked, it’s often used as a replacement for potatoes, as it’s quite a starchy fruit.
You’ll notice that when it’s cooked, the flesh inside the fruit feels a bit like bread, which is how breadfruit got its name.
Better known as mirliton squash, the chayote fruit is a member of the gourd family, which is also home to pumpkins, cucumbers, squash, and melons.
The chayote plant is native to Mexico, and its edible fruit is mainly eaten when it’s cooked. When eaten raw, it is typically added to salsas and salads.
Check out my list of green fruits for more fruits with beautiful green skin.
Perhaps one of the weirdest fruits on this list is the tiny jabuticaba fruit that grows directly on a tree’s trunk.
These little fruits are often treated the same way as grapes and, as such, can be eaten straight off the tree.
Native to Brazil, the name Jabuticaba refers to the grape tree that produces the little fruits that can grow to 3-4 centimeters in diameter.
The fruits are dark-colored and have white-pulped flesh. When not eaten raw, they are typically used to make jellies, jams, juice, or even wine.
27. Monstera Deliciosa
Also known as the Swiss cheese plant, the Monstera Deliciosa is flowering plant native to the tropical forests of southern Mexico.
The name Monstera Deliciosa can roughly be translated as “delicious monster”. The monster part of the name supposedly refers to the plant that can grow quite tall. This is also where the name “Swiss cheese plant” comes in because the leaves of the plant have lots of holes.
The delicious part of the name, however, refers to the edible fruit, which is indeed very pleasant to eat. The fruit must be ripe, though, because an unripe Monstera Deliciose can have poisonous effects.
The exterior of the fruit, covered with green scales, is tough and inedible. The white flesh inside has a unique, creamy taste that resembles a mix of pineapple, banana, and coconut.
28. Noni Fruit
Spoiler alert… Noni fruit tastes and smells horrible. It’s also known as “starvation fruit”, the type of fruit you’d only eat when it’s literally the only thing left to eat.
Native to Southeast Asia and Australasia, noni fruit is a staple food in some cultures and has long been used in traditional medicine.
While the fruit is difficult to eat, its juice is easier to digest, especially when mixed with water or other juices. Noni fruit is also sold in powder form, as supplements, and as an ingredient in cosmetic products.
More commonly known as ice cream bean, the pacay is the fruit of a specific tree native to northwestern South America.
The tree produces rather large pods (like beans) that contain edible white pulp. It’s not just edible; it actually tastes quite nice, a bit like vanilla ice cream.
The weird, fluffy texture of the pulp makes this fruit even more unique. It’s almost like placing a sweet-tasting cotton bowl in your mouth.
30. Star Fruit
Also known as Carambola or birambi, and native to tropical Southeast Asia, the star fruit is so named because it’s shaped like a star when sliced.
Star fruit can be eaten raw when it is ripe. However, when the fruit is still unripe, it’s best to cook it before consuming it.
It’s a very juicy fruit with a crunchy and firm texture.
Native to Southeast Asia and Malaysia, the pomelo is a large citrus fruit, closely related to the grapefruit.
It doesn’t just look similar to a grapefruit; the pomelo’s yellow/green colored flesh also tastes quite similar to what a grapefruit tastes like, albeit less bitter.
Originating from Mexico and northern South America, papaya is quite a common tropical fruit that, over the years, has become available all over the world.
The papaya plant can grow in three sexes; male, female, and hermaphrodite. The male only produces pollen, while the female produces small, inedible fruits unless pollinated.
The hermaphrodite, on the other hand, can self-pollinate. Commercial papaya orchards typically only contain hermaphrodites.
33. Sapodilla Fruit
Primarily cultivated in Mexico, Central America, and Asia, the sapodilla fruit is a super sweet tasting and succulent fruit that is often eaten as a treat.
The flesh of the sapodilla fruit is soft and very easy to eat, making this fruit even more appealing to most people.
34. Bitter Melon
Also known as karela and bitter gourd, bitter melon is a plant that produces quite a unique fruit. Unique both in taste as well as in appearance.
Momordica Charantia in Latin, bitter melon is a (sub)tropical vine originating from India. The plant is now widely grown in large parts of Asia, Africa, and the Caribbean, primarily for its nutritious but bitter-tasting fruit.
In Asian culture, bitter melon has been a popular fruit for centuries. The fruit is used as a versatile ingredient in many curries and stir fry recipes, but also in soups and herbal teas.
The other reason why bitter melon has always been so popular is that it’s been widely used in traditional medicine.
35. Santol Fruit
Let’s complete this list of exotic fruits with a truly unusual fruit; the santol. This exotic treat from Southeast Asia has unusually thick skin with white-colored flesh inside.
When you cut the skin off, you’ll immediately notice the similarities with the mangosteen fruit, with a bunch of wedges of flesh tied together.
Santol fruit’s flesh tastes rather sour, almost citrus-like, which certainly isn’t for everyone, but it’s incredibly powerful.
The flesh contains seeds that shouldn’t be eaten. The riper the fruit though, the sweeter the fruit becomes.
Weird and unusual vegetables you should try.
I hope this list of exotic fruits will inspire you to go out and start hunting for something different than the usual apple or banana.
The unique flavors of these rare and sometimes weird and unusual-looking fruits can be pretty exciting and make you even more curious about other fruits and vegetables.
I would love to hear from you too. Have you tried any exciting tropical fruits that you enjoyed eating? Let me know in the comments.