When we think of fruits, most of us identify them by their juicy sweetness. Yet, botanically, fruits are classified as such because they come from flowers and/or have seeds inside them. What’s your favorite fruit? You’ll probably find it on the list of fruit names below, along with some more unusual fruits that you’ve never heard of. Use it as a source of inspiration for growing fruits in your backyard!
Apples. Few fruits have been so celebrated in literature and myth as the apple. From Adam and Eve to Sir Isaac Newton, apples have inspired us for centuries. Apples have a reputation for being difficult to grow, and it’s true that they have their share of pests and diseases. Yet, if you live in a harsh climate, apples may be one of the few orchard fruits you can grow.
Apricot. Somewhere between a peach and a plum, apricots are favored for their sweet, but tangy, flavor. Eat them fresh, dried or in preserves. Brush their juice on grilled meat or add them to salad dressings.
Blueberries. Blueberries have more cancer-fighting antioxidants than almost any other food and make a delicious addition to cereals, smoothies, desserts or even meat dishes. The plants are beautiful, with glossy green leaves and white flowers, but alas, they need acidic soil to thrive.
Cantaloupe. Part of the melon family, cantaloupes take up less room and grow more quickly than watermelon or honeydew. Harvest them when they give off a sweet aroma and yield slightly to your thumb.
Cherries. Cherries are divided into two categories: sweet cherries and tart (or pie) cherries. Sweet cherries, as the name implies, are sweet, large and deep red, orange or almost black. Tart cherries are bright red and have less sweetness. They’re usually eaten dried, or cooked into pies or jams. Cherry trees make beautiful landscape trees, but plant tart cherries if you live in a cold climate.
Dewberry. A wild berry that grows throughout most of North America, dewberries are similar to blackberries or raspberries. They grow on bushes, rather than trailing vines, and have a sweet, but tart, flavor. Eat them fresh or use them in pies or jams.
Elephant Fruit. This small, brown fruit is covered with a hard green husk. Found throughout Asia, it is used in Indian cooking.
Fig. One of the oldest cultivated fruits, fig remnants have been found in Neolithic caves dating back to at least 5,000 B.C. Figs are a staple food throughout the Middle East, where they are eaten fresh or dried. Roasted fig powder is sometimes even used as a coffee substitute.
Grapes. Grapes contain resveratrol, a phytonutrient associated with reduced risk of heart disease and longer life. Grapes are easy to grow in the home backyard if you choose a variety suited for your climate. Eat them fresh or preserve the juice for later.
Honeydew. Sweet, cool and refreshing, honeydew are a favorite summertime treat. They’re ripe when the rind feels slightly fuzzy.
Horned Melon. Native to Africa, this annual vine grows throughout South America, Asia and even California. When ripe, the shell is yellowish-orange with horns. The flesh is green and seedy and tastes like a banana.
Jabuticaba. Native to Brazil, Jabuticaba (a.k.a. Brazilian grape tree) has an unusual growing pattern: the trunk produces large, deep-purple fruit, rather than the branches. The fruit is very sweet and can be eaten fresh or preserved as wine.
Kiwi. Kiwi fruit is native to China, but was first imported to the U.S. from New Zealand. It is named after New Zealand’s official bird, the Kiwi. In the U.S., it is only grown in California.
Lychee. This subtropical fruit now grows in some parts of California. It has a reddish shell with juicy, sweet white flesh. The flesh is eaten fresh, canned or dried.
Mammee Apple. Found throughout South America, Hawaii, Africa and Asia, this evergreen plant produces large orange fruit with a thick rind. The fruit has a sweet taste and is often eaten fresh.
Mango. Some people dislike this fruit for its stringy membranes and pine-like taste. Others find it delicious and eat it fresh or add it to smoothies, sauces and sorbets.
Noni. This fruit grows year-round throughout Asia. Unfortunately, it has a strong stench when ripening. In fact, it’s sometimes called vomit fruit or cheese fruit. Nevertheless, it’s very nutritious and is a staple food throughout the Pacific Islands.
Olive. Processed in salt, olives lack the sweet flavor and juiciness we usually associate with fruit, but they are nonetheless, a fruit. These heart-healthy small orbs have been cultivated for thousands of years and grows in the Middle East, southern Europe, and parts of California.
Peach. Few fruits epitomize summer like a freshly picked peach. Sweet, aromatic and juicy, they’re delicious served plain, canned, or added to sauces, ice cream and baked goods. Peach trees are short-lived, rarely producing fruit for more than 10 to 15 years. They thrive in regions with mild winters.
Rambutan. This fruit from Southeast Asia has a wild appearance. The shell is bright magenta with protruding chartreuse-green tentacles. The fruit inside is white with a sweet, mildly acidic, flavor.
Quince. With its wooly outer shell and astringent flesh, quince may not seem particularly appealing. Its beauty lies in its use in cooked dishes, such as jams, jellies and baked goods, where it takes on a mellow flavor that resembles a pear or apple.
Raspberry. Tart, sweet, and juicy, raspberries are delicious eaten fresh or cooked. Add them to smoothies, spoon them over ice cream, or make them into tasty jams and sauces. Raspberries appear in summer or fall, depending on the variety, and grow in cold climates where other fruits fail.
Strawberry. Strawberries aren’t technically berries because their seeds lie on the outside of the fruit. No matter, though, if you’re a strawberry lover. Native Americans pounded dried strawberries into their cornmeal and introduced strawberries to early colonists. Americans have had a love affair with these small heart-shaped berries ever since.
Tomatillo. Sure, this fruit is generally used in savory Mexican dishes, but just like the tomato, it’s botanically a fruit. Tomatillos are notoriously expensive at the store, but very easy to grow in the home garden. Give them plenty of space and grow them as you would tomatoes. Harvest them when their papery husk starts to dry.
Ugli fruit. This citrus hybrid has an ugly wrinkled skin, but inside you’ll find juicy, delicious fruit that’s a cross between a tangerine and a grapefruit.
Xylocarp. A botanical term for a tree that produces a hard, woody fruit, such as a coconut.
Watermelon. How to pick a good watermelon? According to New Mexico State University, the best way to pick a watermelon is to look at its ground spot, or the spot where it rested on the ground. The spot should be cream or yellow in color, not white or green.
Yali Pear. Native to China, this pear also grows in California. Similar to traditional pears, it has a sweet, juicy flavor and texture.
Zucchini. Often used as a vegetable, zucchini is technically a fruit because it comes from a flower and has seeds inside the fruit. One of the easiest home garden crops to grow, it produces in abundance. Use it in sautés, stir-fries, soups or breads.
For Further Reading about Types of Fruit:
Small Fruits in the Home Garden – Virginia Cooperative Extension
Fruit Cultivars for Home Plantings – University of Missouri Extension
Did we miss any fruits? Leave a comment and help us update!