Bananas, citrus and pineapples aren't the only fruits that can be grown in a tropical climate. There are many fruits that can be grown right in your backyard that are delicious and nutritious. These trees and plants provide fruit, but are also good for shade and enhance the landscape with their appearance. Local county extension offices are a recommended source for information about which tropical fruit plants are best suited to a particular location.
Avocado trees (Persea Americana) are low-branching evergreens that can grow up to 60 feet tall, but are commonly seen 35 to 40 feet tall in the landscape. The cold hardiness of avocado varies widely between cultivars. Avocado fruit—a botanical berry with one large seed--is very nutritious. The tree makes a good yard specimen, and provides shade as well. Avocados are often eaten fresh in salads, and prepared in recipes such as guacamole.
Mango (Mangifera indica) is an evergreen tree that can reach 100 feet in height and spread, but is more commonly around 50 feet tall with a 40-foot spread. This tree is hardy only in zone 10 or 11 (the climate of South Florida, for example). The sap and fruit of the fruit of the mango can cause rashes in some people. Mango fruit are large, weighing 1 to 4 lbs., with yellow flesh, and are often eaten fresh.
Guava trees (Psidium guajava) are small, usually around 20 feet tall. They bear a lot of fruit—more than 100 lbs. at maturity--and are high in vitamin C. In some locations, such as South Florida, guava can become invasive, meaning that it aggressively competes with other plants.
The papaya plant (Carica papaya) is tree-like, and grows to be around 30 feet tall. Papaya fruit varies in size, and is orange-to-reddish colored with many small, black seeds in the center of the fleshy interior. Typically, papaya fruit is eaten fresh.
Carambola (Averrhoa carambola) is a slow-growing tree that grows 20 to 30 feet in height. Carambola fruit is distinctive with its oblong, angled shape, that when sliced, is star shaped—hence, its common name, “star fruit.” Carambola are juicy and slightly sweet when ripe, and have a waxy, yellow skin. People who have been diagnosed with kidney disease should not eat carambola without approval from their physician, according to University of Florida IFAS extension literature.