The exotic fruit trees in Hawaii come in bizarre shapes and vibrant colors that can be quite an interesting experience. These foreign foods will definitely induce curiosity with just their looks that all visitors will love exploring. We promise if you don’t fear the alien looks of the fruit, you will definitely have a good time in the heavenly flavor and fresh scents of Hawaiian fruits.
The History of Exotic Fruits Trees in Hawaii
Learning about where the food in Hawaii comes from can help you get around the unique shapes and colors of the fruit. Once you visit Hawaii, you will find it hard to believe that tropical fruits weren’t always a part of the landscape in Hawaii. There were a few fruit trees when the first Polynesian voyagers arrived in 400 A.D. When locals got in contact with the first Europeans including Captain James Cook (who was later killed in an attempt to kidnap the ruling chief), new fruit varieties were available.
Most of the exotic fruits you will find in Hawaii were planted there after the 1830s. This was when the first sugarcane plantation was built in Kauai and horticulturists and Naval officers brought different favorite fruits from around the globe.
When Polynesian voyagers started to settle on the island, they brought beneficial plants to Hawaii in canoes. The Canoe Crops were often used to build shelter and canoes, as medicine, and to make music and clothes. The five main types of fruits they bought were breadfruit, coconuts, noni, bananas, and mountain apples.
You will find all of these common fruits when in season at farmers’ markets in Hawaii, except the noni fruit. This is because noni is never eaten for pleasure since it tastes similar to blue cheese and smells really bad. However, it is common because it is a primary ingredient in the traditional medicine of Hawaii. It is known for its painkilling and antibiotic properties. Studies show that it is 75% as effective as morphine is at eliminating pain, which is why it is sold as fruit leather and tonics.
Breadfruits are also an exotic fruit that was the prized cargo of a voyage in 1789. The fruit is known to be quite heavy from 2 to 10 pounds. It is carbohydrate-rich, making it a great meal for locals. The center has a dry, doughy texture that is similar to starchy potatoes. The fruit is often turned into fried chips that are served with sea salt, making it quite a delicious meal.
Coconuts, while technically not a fruit but a nut, also are a popular feature in Hawaii. They are often used to make milk by shredding the hard area of the brown coconut shell, soaking it, and then straining it. The green coconuts are often part of divination rituals performed by Hawaiian priests and are full of delicious water.
Banana Passion Fruits
The banana passion fruit tree is actually considered a pest species that persists on the elevation areas of the bigger islands. It is known to spread at a rapid speed with the seeds spread around by feral pigs and birds. The trees are found at 2000-5000 feet in places with moderate rainfalls.
While cinnamon trees are a recent addition to the islands, they are spread naturally in areas like the Pali region of Oahu.
Coffee trees are spread out on the main islands of Hawaii that are considered an important crop for the region. There are plenty of big plantations that you can find in Kauai and the Big Island. Wild coffee is found where there is heavy rainfall with commercial coffee trees in arid or leeward regions.
Guavas are the most common exotic fruit trees in Hawaii that are also considered a pest species in many areas. Their pink pulp is sweet and delicious, available all year round.
The Java Plum trees grow naturally along most of the Hawaiian Islands.
Lilikoi is a Passion Fruit type that ripens into a yellow color. The fruits are around the size of a baseball with a hard shell. It is full of orange pulp that has a tart flavor. The fruits grow on vines that are quite commonly found growing on the main islands.
The Macadamia Nut trees are quite tasty and are native to Australia but successfully grow in Hawaii too. The nuts are grown commercially on Big Island.
Mango trees are quite beautiful, commonly grown as dooryard trees. These trees are known to grow up to 50-70 feet, bearing hundreds of mangoes when in season.
Strawberry guava trees are commonly found in the wild with small red fruits. They are quite widespread, being considered as pests in some areas. They are found in wet forests.
Fruits According to Seasons
You will most tropical fruits at common grocery chains, stores, and farmers’ markets. There is a huge selection of fresh and big fruits that make for quite a satisfactory snack or meal. Hawaii provides different fruits depending on the season, so there is always something you can try out. The temperate climate provides four distinct seasons, each with its own fruits, as follows:
- Fall: Jackfruit, passionfruit, dragon fruit, citrus, breadfruit, and starfruit
- Spring: Lychee, mangosteen, citrus, chocolate sapote, avocadoes, and star apple
- Winter: Breadfruit, mangosteen, rambutan, longan, and citrus
- Summer: Dragon fruit, lychee, avocadoes, jackfruit mango, passionfruit, soursop egg fruit
- Year Around: Noni, papaya, apple bananas pineapple, breadfruit, and coconuts
We hope now you know more about the exotic fruit trees in Hawaii. Have fun trying them out next time you visit the islands!