Tropical fruit is any fruit produced by a tree native to the tropics. The tropics are generally defined as the region of the globe between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn, and the environmental conditions there are unique, creating a habitat for incredibly diverse animals and plants. Many tropical fruits have been used by humans for centuries, and certain fruits are in high demand all over the world.
Several things about the growing conditions in the tropics are unique, setting the stage for trees, vines, and other plants which grow nowhere else in the world. The most obvious distinguishing feature of the tropics is the heat. The tropics are warm, year-round, and they are also very humid, with some areas receiving lots of rain every year. Plants in this area have adapted to this climate, and many tropical fruits are large, brightly colored, and very flavorful so that they appeal to the animals they rely on to distribute their seeds.
Some tropical fruits are pretty well known all over the world. Pomegranates, mangoes, papayas, avocados, bananas, pineapples, guavas, star fruits, kiwis, dates, and passion fruit are some well-known examples. In fact, the banana is one of the highest selling fruits around the world, thanks to the ease with which it can be grown, harvested, and transported. Many of these fruits are available in big markets year-round, thanks to a steady supply of fruit from the tropics.
Other tropical fruit cultivars are more obscure. While they may be popular in specific regions of the world, they are not familiar to people outside of these areas, and some of them are definitely an acquired taste. Some more obscure examples of tropical fruit include: soursops, cherimoyas, sugar apples, jackfruit, pawpaws, durian, acerolas, mamey, akee, breadfruit, lychees, rambutans, and mangosteens. Some of these fruits, like jackfruit and durian, are infamous for their strong odor and flavor, while others like mangosteens, lychees, and cherimoyas are, quite simply, delicious, but difficult to cultivate, making it hard to promote them.
Many people associate the tropics with exoticism, and as a result, tropical fruit often has an exotic flare. Some types are also very fragile, making transport challenging and adding to the excitement for consumers who can get them, since many people prize rarity. For people who live in the tropics, of course, there's nothing terribly exotic about fruits which grow as readily as weeds in the back yard, but the same fruits which plague homeowners in places like Hawaii fetch a high price at market in regions like Sweden. Many tropical fruits are particularly flavorful, sweet, juicy, and tender, making them appealing to people of all ages.