Sometimes, it’s just fun to try something new and different. Depending on your climate and zone, there are several fun varieties of exotic fruits you can try. These can add some pizazz to your garden and dinner plate. Why not give some of these unusual fruits a shot this season?
Feijoa are also known as pineapple guava and guavasteen. These are fun mountainous fruits grown in southern Brazil, northern Argentina, and in Paraguay and Uruguay. They are hardy in zones 8-10 in the U.S. High elevations with moderate winters are best. They are evergreen shrubs that grow to about 15 feet in height and width and are quite beautiful in their own right.
Loquat are Asian fruits the are fast becoming a favorite in the mild climates of the American south from Florida to eastern Texas. They are pear-shaped, yellow fruits (sometimes round) are succulent and tangy and, oddly, ripen in late winter or early spring after the buds appear in the fall on this evergreen, tropical tree.
Passion Fruit is a purple-seeded fruit that most people are familiar with. Originating in Paraguay, Brazil and northern Argentina, the trees are grown throughout the subtropical, frost-free areas of Asia, the Pacific, and some states in the southern U.S., as well as Hawaii. There are yellow and purple varieties. When picked, the fruits can be immediately juiced or left for two or three days to “wrinkle,” which enhances their sugar content and makes them succulently sweet for eating directly.
Pomegranate is a Near Eastern fruit which originates in the Iranian Plateau, the Himalayas, and Northern Pakistan and India. It”s one of the most recognizable fruits of the near east. It has been introduced in Latin America and grows well in high elevation, desert-like environments such as those found in parts of Arizona and California.
Jelly Palm is also called the Pindo Palm and is native to Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay. It grows slowly and is one of the most cold-hardy feathered palms. It grows well in warm temperate regions, such as the southern U.S. The fruit is described as both sweet and tangy, with an apricot-mango-peach-like base flavor.
Banana comes in many varieties in the genus Musa and Ensete. These grow in the deep south (Florida especially) and along some parts of the gulf coast. The common banana we are familiar with is a “dessert” banana whereas most of the bananas grown in the Caribbean for local consumption are plantains for cooking. Either is fun to grow if you have the climate for it and there are small, indoor (dwarf) tree varieties that can be grown anywhere.
There are many other choices as well. Mayhaw, jujube, pawpaw, gumi and others can be grown.
For more northern climates, there are some of the interesting cross fruits like pluots (plums and apricots crossed), sour prune plums, strassberry (strawberry-raspberry cross), and others. There’s a huge variety out there! Try them!
Want to learn more about growing specialty fruits?
Check out these helpful resources:
NC State – Specialty Crop Production
Cornell University – Specialty Fruit Production for New York State