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Last updated: October 9, 2023
A list of 35 exotic fruits from around the world with pictures. 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 a lot to choose from, but 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 or heard of before, which makes them 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!
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 is known by many as the smelly fruit. While it may be true that the scent of a durian’s flesh doesn’t appeal to everyone, it is a pretty tasty 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 eating durian will most likely for most people be a pleasant experience.
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.
Want to know how best to cut and eat it? Read my guide to eating kiwano fruit with lots of practical tips.
The mangosteen tree is an evergreen tree native to Southeast Asia and the islands of the Indian Ocean, but has been grown in tropical zones around the world in more recent times.
The fruits from the mangosteen tree are dark-red or purple, with white flesh that is deliciously sweet and juicy. Mangosteens have a mild aroma reminiscent of caramel, butter, and grass, and have the same delicate softness of lychee fruit with a similar flavor.
They can be eaten raw, added to salads and smoothies, or used in desserts. Read my guide on how to cut and eat a mangosteen fruit for more tips.
Read my list of purple fruits for more fruits with bright purple skin.
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 a 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.
Read my guide to Brazilian fruits for more unique fruits from Brazil.
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.
Read my list of red fruits for more fruits with beautiful red skin.
The feijoa is also known as pineapple guava or guavasteen. This fruit is native to South America, and has a green, egg-shaped appearance with a slightly rough texture on the outside. Size-wise, it’s somewhere between a lime and a chicken egg, so not too big, but not too small either.
When you cut a feijoa open, you’ll find a soft, jelly-like center with a few seeds. The flavor is best described as a delightful mix of pineapple, guava, and a hint of mint; very refreshing and perfect for a summer snack. The aroma is quite fragrant too.
You can eat feijoa both skin and all, though some prefer to scoop out the insides with a spoon. Besides eating fresh as a snack, you can also enjoy feijoas in smoothies, desserts, and salads. So, next time you’re at the market or grocery store, keep an eye out for these little green tropical gems.
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.
The quirky Buddha’s Hand has lemony skin and octopus-like tentacles. Inside, you won’t find any pulp or juice, just a chunky white pith. The best part? It’s not bitter like most citrus fruit piths and has a pleasant lemon flavor. Buddha’s Hand is famous for its fragrant skin, which can be zested and used as a less sour alternative to lemon in dishes.
In India, where it originated, and in China, where it is commonly cultivated, this strange fruit is often used as an offering. It is said to symbolize happiness and longevity and is utilized to add a pleasant citrus fragrance to rooms. Like to know how to consume it? Read my guide explaining how to eat Buddha’s Hand for more details.
Read 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 or white, and whichever color you choose, pitaya is an absolutely delicious tropical fruit.
Want to know how best to cut and eat it? Read my guide to eating dragon fruit with lots of practical tips.
13. Langsat Fruit
The langsat fruit, also referred to as lanzones or duku, is a tropical delight originating from Southeast Asia. It is particularly popular in countries such as Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, and the Philippines.
This fruit is small and round, or occasionally oval, and grows in clusters much like grapes. Langsats have thin, yellowish skin that is easily peeled away to reveal the juicy flesh within.
The flavor of the langsat is a pleasant combination of sweet and sour, with undertones of grapefruit and lychee. Although the taste can vary depending on the specific variety, these fruits consistently provide a refreshing experience, especially on warm summer days. Langsats can be enjoyed fresh, incorporated into fruit salads, or made into jams and jellies.
The cucamelon fruit, also known as the Mexican sour gherkin or mouse melon, is a unique and intriguing addition to the melon family. Native to Central America, particularly Mexico and the surrounding region, this fruit has gained popularity in recent years due to its distinct appearance and flavor profile.
Cucamelons are petite fruits, similar in size to a grape, and feature a distinctive striped pattern that gives them the appearance of miniature watermelons. They grow on vines, making for a charming addition to gardens or as part of hanging baskets.
In terms of flavor, cucamelons present an unexpected fusion of tastes. The thin, crisp skin envelops a succulent, cucumber-like interior with a subtle tanginess that evokes a touch of lime. This invigorating combination of flavors renders cucamelons versatile for various culinary applications, including salads, salsas, and pickled dishes.
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
The aguaje fruit, also known as the moriche palm fruit or buriti, is a distinctive and nutrient-rich fruit native to the Amazon rainforest, predominantly in countries such as Brazil, Peru, and Colombia. This fruit grows on the moriche palm tree and has become a staple in the diets and cultures of local communities.
Aguaje fruits have an oval shape and feature a reddish-brown, scale-like exterior, giving them a resemblance to a miniature pineapple. When opening, the fruit reveals a vibrant yellow-orange, fibrous pulp surrounding a firm central seed. The fruit’s flavor is a mild fusion of sweetness and earthiness, often compared to a blend of carrot and mango.
The aguaje fruit is not only delicious but also nutritionally dense. They can be enjoyed fresh or transformed into various products, including juices, jams, and ice creams.
18. Pepino Fruit
The pepino fruit, also known as pepino melon or pepino dulce, is an intriguing fruit native to the Andean region of South America, primarily in countries like Peru, Ecuador, and Colombia. Belonging to the nightshade family of plants, it has gained popularity in recent years due to its unique appearance and delightful flavor.
Pepino fruits are oval or teardrop-shaped, featuring a smooth, thin skin that ranges from pale green to golden yellow, often adorned with purple streaks or spots. The interior consists of a soft, juicy, light yellow or greenish pulp, containing small, edible seeds. The fruit’s taste is a delicate balance of sweetness and mild tartness, reminiscent of a combination of honeydew melon and cucumber.
The pepino fruit can be enjoyed fresh, added to salads, or incorporated into various culinary dishes, making it a versatile choice for those interested in exploring unique and flavorful fruits.
The plantain, a key ingredient in numerous tropical cuisines, shares a close kinship with the banana and originates from areas such as Southeast Asia, West Africa, and Central and South America. Despite their visual similarity to bananas, plantains possess a unique taste and culinary application, distinguishing them as a multifaceted and nutritious food choice.
Plantains have an elongated, slightly curved shape, and their thicker skin transitions in color from green to yellow, or even black, based on ripeness. The fruit’s interior is dense and starchy, exuding a subtle sweetness and earthiness that intensifies as it ripens.
Plantains are cooked before being consumed and can be enjoyed at various stages of ripeness. With diverse preparation methods like boiling, frying, or baking, they frequently appear in dishes such as tostones, mofongo, and plantain chips, offering a flavorful and nutrient-dense contribution to a wide array of culinary delights.
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, Central America, Colombia, and the Caribbean, the black sapote is a species of persimmon. While it shares its name with white sapote and mamey sapote, it is not related to either. What these three fruits do have in common though is soft, delicate pulp.
The interesting 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 a little rotten before you can start eating black sapote fruit.
The inside of the fruit contains large seeds and the flesh is dark and looks somewhat unappealing. The flesh doesn’t taste like chocolate, but the texture lends itself perfectly to creating pudding or mousse.
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, also known as ulu in Hawaii, is strongly related to the jackfruit and can be eaten when cooked and in raw form.
The most common way to eat 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.
Also known as a choko or mirliton, the chayote is a relative of the cucumber and melon. It looks somewhat like a puckered pear with wrinkly, light green skin. The flavor, however, is much more reminiscent of cucumber or mild apple.
This fleshy gourd was first cultivated by Mesoamericans in Southern Mexico thousands of years ago. Today it is used in many of the same ways zucchini is. It can be spiraled into noodles, mixed into salads, baked, or used in soups.
When mixed with sugar or syrups, chayote takes on a sweeter vibe allowing it to be used alongside pears and apples in desserts.
Read 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, star fruits have a look all their own. They have a waxy yellow-green peel and five distinct ridges running from stem to blossom end. When cut into slices, each slice resembles a perfect little star.
This tropical fruit is native to Sri Lanka but will grow anywhere that stays warm enough. 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 has a crisp flavor that is equal parts sweet and tart. While eating the fruit whole is most common, the chewy seeds and waxy peel make it hard to fully appreciate the taste.
The pomelo is a non-hybridized citrus fruit native to Southeast Asia and Malaysia. It is quite a large exotic fruit (can weigh up to 4 pounds), has a green rind that ripens to yellow, and has pulpy flesh inside that varies from white to nearly red. The flesh is surrounded by a thick white pith.
Pomelos are very similar to grapefruits in terms of looks and flavors, but are slightly less bitter. In many countries in Southeast Asia, they are eaten raw as a dessert, candied, or juiced.
Read my list of citrus fruits with some of the most interesting and unique citrus fruits from around the world.
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 fruit is produced by the Carica papaya tree, which is actually a large herb. It typically has a single long trunk, no branches, and a ring of leaves on the top. They look somewhat like a palm tree.
The large, oblong fruits grow directly from the trunk under the ring of leaves. These leaves fall off as the tree grows higher, making room for more fruits. A single papaya tree can have dozens of fruits growing off the trunk.
Eating papaya fruit is a delight, as the flesh has a buttery and smooth texture and offers a deliciously sweet taste.
33. Sapodilla Fruit
The sapodilla fruit, originating from the tropical areas of Central America and the Caribbean, is a charming and relatively obscure fruit that has piqued the interest of fruit aficionados globally. This fruit, also known as chikoo, naseberry, or sapota, thrives on the Sapodilla tree, a member of the Manilkara genus.
Sapodilla fruits boast a round or oval shape and are enveloped by a coarse, brown, and slightly fuzzy exterior. Inside, the fruit reveals a tender, grainy, caramel-hued flesh surrounding a few glossy, black seeds. Sapodilla’s flavor is distinctively sweet and malty, evoking hints of brown sugar, pear, and cinnamon.
Sapodilla can be relished fresh by simply scooping out the flesh or can be incorporated into an array of smoothies, desserts, and culinary masterpieces. Its unique taste and nutritious composition make sapodilla an enticing option for those eager to discover novel and exotic fruit experiences.
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.
Want to know how best to cut and eat it? Read my guide to eating bitter melon with lots of practical tips.
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.