Tropical Fruit Guide by Marina Grubic

Lulo locally called naranjilla (Solanum quitoense) in the nightshade family like tomatoes, sour flavor of the yellow flesh, furry outside with hard skin of orange color. Green furry leaves.

Araza locally called membrio (Eugenia stipitata) – yellow fruit has soft skin and juicy sour flesh, rose yellow seeds. Medium sized tree. Fruits 2-3 times per year.

Soursop locally called guanabana (Annona muricata) – fruit has green skin with soft spikes, juicy sweet sour white flesh and black seeds (toxic seeds).

Rollinia deliciosa locally called cherimoya – 2 years to fruit from seed. Harvest when fruit is turning yellow.

Ice cream bean locally called gauba (Inga Edulis) – leguminous nitrogen fixing, many verities make a sweet fruit and often used for chop and drop in ally cropping between other fruit trees/crops.

Guava locally called goyaba (Psidium guajava) – local verities are usually full of worms, sometimes used in jams. Smooth strong wood can be used for structures if straight.

Mamey Sapote (Pouteria sapota) – tree native to Mexico and Central America. Fruit is orange flesh that resembles boiled sweet potato or pumpkin and thick gray/brown textured skin.

Sapodilla (Manilkara zapota) – also called nispero in some countries. A very sweet fruit, described as brown sugar. Related to mamey.

Black sapote (Diospyros nigra) – a species of persimmon. Common names include chocolate pudding fruit, black soapapple and zapote prieto. The tropical fruit tree is native to Mexico, Central America, and Colombia.

Canistel (Pouteria campechiana) – also known as egg fruit, yellow creamy sweet flesh with black or brown shiny seeds resembles taste of sweetened egg yolk.

Star fruit (Carambola) – fruit is shaped like a star lengthwise, yellow, juicy sweet-sour with small seeds.

Zapote (Quararibea cordata) – South American sapote or chupa-chupa, is a large, semi-deciduous, fruit tree, native to Amazon rainforest vegetation in Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru. It bears orange-yellow fruit which are soft, juicy, sweet and contain 2-5 seeds and smooth gray/brown outer skin.

Rambutan locally called achotillo (Nephelium lappaceum) – red furry outside, sweet clear and juicy with white seed in the middle. Medium sized tree.

Iñaku (gustavia mascareniensis) – rare amazon fatty fruit, purple outside round shaped like a fig with hard skin and orange flesh.

Apai (Grias peruviana) – native local fruit tree with large broad dark green leaves, flowers are yellow on the trunk and fruit is oval-round and brown on the trunk of the tree. Pick when fully ripe: check by cutting a small amount to see that it is not green or white, when orange or yellow can be picked to ripen off the tree. Takes about 3-4 days to ripen, remains hard so cut length wise and remove the skin to eat the flesh which surrounds a large white seed.

Abiu locally called cauje or caimito (Pouteria caimito) –

Wild apple (Bellucia pentamera) – locally called manzana silvestre, smell and taste similar in tartness to apples with soft flesh and tiny seeds throughout the fruit. Grows wild in the mountain areas and throughout the region.

Strawberry tree or cotton candy tree (mutingia) – textured soft leaves with jagged edges, white flower resembles strawberry flowers, fruit is small, round and red skin when ripe, white flesh with tiny seeds throughout. Fast growing softwood tree and can be pruned heavily.

Peanut butter fruit (Bunchosia glandulifera) –

Jaboticaba (Plinia cauliflora) – Many verities of different color fruit, grape shaped fruits grow on the trunk. Dark red kind can fruit in 2 years.

Amazon tree grape (Pourouma cecropiifolia) – locally known as uva de monte. Fruit is small to large shaped as usual grape with dark skin, white sweet juicy flesh and large white seed.

Matoa (Pometia pinnata) – red and green types, round fruit with sweet jelly flesh and brown seed in the middle.

Langsat (Lansium parasiticum) – fruit has brown skin and translucent flesh.

Jackfruit (Artocarpus heterophyllus) – Medium to large tree, fast growing. Fruit in 3 years if maintained well. Large sweet fruit with latex.

Marang (Artocarpus odoratissimus) – Related to jackfruit.

Durian (Durio) – Fruit has spiky green shell with soft creamy white or yellow (sometimes red) flesh that has complex sweet and fatty tastes.

Mangosteen (Garcinia mangostana) – trees grow slowly and need shade in first several years, can 10 years before producing fruit.

Cupuaçu (theobroma grandiflorum) – related to cacao, national fruit of Brazil, they make juices from the pulp and using the seed to make butter for skin and cosmetics. The fruit is fuzzy hard shell brown color with cream yellow inside flesh. For best flavor allow the fruit to drop from the tree.

Mocambo locally unknown (Theobroma bicolor) –

Borojó (Alibertia patinoi) – round large fruit with green turning brown thin skin, flesh is brownish and very dense creamy sweet-sour taste with small yellowish seeds the size and shape of lentils.


Nalampi (Caryodendron orinocense)

Pili (Canarium ovatum)


Herbs and tubers

Katuk (Sauropus androgynus) – green leaves and white berries are edible. Propagated from cuttings

Cranberry hibiscus (Hibiscus acetosella) – dark purple leaves edible. Propagated from cuttings.

Kang kong (Ipomoea aquatica) – water spinach from Philippines. Edible leaves, stems, flowers. Grows in swampy muddy shallow water ponds.

Cassava locally called Yuca (Manihot esculenta) – starchy tuber that must be cooked. Propagated via cuttings, planted at 45 degree angle in the soil. Harvest when the thick stem is mature, thick and woody after 9 to 12 months of growing. Will often have flowers or seeds.

Taro locally called papa china (Colocasia esculenta) – starchy corms and tuber when cooked is similar to potato.

Yacon (Smallanthus sonchifolius) – sweet crunchy tuber that is edible raw (such as in salads). Propagated via rhizomes. Harvest when yellow flowers appear.

Ginger locally called jengibre (Zingiber officinale) –

Turmeric locally called curcuma (Curcuma longa) –

Brazilian spinach – (Alternanthera sissoo) – edible leaves, good ground cover, together with pinto peanut (see below).

Winged beans (Psophocarpus tetragonolobus) – sometimes known as dragon beans or asparagus beans, beans flowers and leaves are edible. Propagated by seeds, climbing up a trellis or pergola for best results

Indian lettuce locally called tree lettuce (Lactuca indica) –

Banana locally called guineo (musa) – verities include:
Orito – small sweet, locally very common. Dark brown spots on the trunk of the growing plant.
Orinoco – from the orinoco valley in Venezuela, not common locally. Square shape to the fruit. Solid green trunk of the growing plant, usually lower fruiting.
Seda – similar in size and shape to the most common known banana verity but tastier than cavandish. Large plant growing 4+ meters in height .
Namwa – Thailand in origin. Medium to high in size with very thick stock plant. Sour fruit when not fully ripe and can be sweeter when very ripe.
Plantain – commonly used in cooking, can be eaten raw when fully allowed to ripen black skin and soft.
Red – thick and tall red stock of the plant.

Companion plants

Vetivir grass (Chrysopogon zizanioides) – used for erosion control, clumping grass that doesn’t spread with seeds nor runners, has very deep roots to bring up minerals and hold the soil in place where slope and erosion or land slides may be a concern. Can create natural terraces.

Pinto peanut or perennial peanut (Arachis pintoi) locally called trebol – used for ground cover because it grows slowly, spreads quickly, competes with other weeds and fixes nitrogen from the air (leguminous). Does not produce any peanut, the yellow flowers are edible. See video on how to plant it.

Flemingia (Flemingia macrophylla) – used for chop and drop, leguminous nitrogen fixing fast growing plant.

Mexican sunflower (Tithonia diversifolia) – fast growing chop and drop “It has shown to increase plant yields and the soil nutrients of nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K)”