Most of us know plenty of things about Africa, like the fact that it’s the second-largest continent in the world and is home to the world’s longest river, the Nile. But something you may not know is that some of the best fruits can be found here, too.
With both desert and jungle landscapes, it should come as no surprise that Africa supports an abundance of vegetation.
Along with its rich history and stunning wildlife, you should also get to know the best African fruit.
Learn about these African fruits you may not have tried before and taste them for yourself!
While ackee is the national fruit of Jamaica, it’s native to West Africa, where it grows on tropical evergreen trees.
Moreover, the name ackee is derived from a colloquial term akye-fufuo in the West African Akan language.
Ackee grows in red pods that open up when ripe, exposing black seeds. Beneath the seeds is the cream-colored flesh called arils, which is the part you eat.
When cooked, ackee can taste bitter. Some cooking methods bring out a nutty taste with a creamy texture.
The marula fruit is about the same size as the average plum.
It’s a highly nutritious fruit – a favorite of African residents and wildlife alike. It’s packed with more vitamin C than an orange.
The inside of the marula fruit is a nut. This deciduous nut is an excellent source of protein and has a sweet, sour, and tart flavor.
One of my favorite parts about marula fruit is that it’s used to make marula beer.
The traditional African medlar fruit looks similar to a peach.
It grows on a shrub or small tree and produces a taste similar to an apple – sweet yet tart.
The flesh is soft and enjoyable, but you have to watch for the fruit’s large seeds.
The kola nut is the fruit of the kola tree, a plant native to West Africa.
Kola trees are large and known for their bright yellow flowers. They sprout star-shaped fruit that contains two to five kola nuts each.
Most people chew these caffeine-filled nuts, but I’m most interested in their commercial use in the popular soft drink Coca-Cola.
Mango is one of my favorite fruit flavors ever, but you haven’t tried real mangos until you’ve had an African mango.
Known as the bush mango or wild mango, this tropical fruit boasts bold colors and soft flesh that’s sweet and juicy.
The African mango is also commonly used for medical purposes, given the antimicrobial and antioxidant properties of the seed.
Dates are widespread in the US, but this sweet fruit hails from Northern Africa, too.
If you’ve had dates, you know that they closely resemble the look, taste, and texture of raisins.
I thoroughly enjoy their sweetness and versatile use in yummy holiday recipes.
This African fruit, commonly called the horned cucumber, gets its name from the horn-like spikes that sprout from its orange skin.
A peculiar fruit, it houses lime green jelly flesh with a sweet, citrusy flavor.
Watermelons are so common in America today that you probably don’t know this fruit originally came from Northeast Africa.
Over time, the watermelon has been domesticated several times over, so it may not look the same as the original.
Still, I have to give props to African culture for gifting us such a delightful summertime favorite.
African Star Apple
The African star apple looks more like an orange than an apple.
Its bright-orange skin covers soft, sweet flesh that also contains seeds.
But unlike oranges, as we know them here, African star apples have edible skin.
They’re also low-calorie and super healthy.
Tamarind is a tropical fruit native to Africa, although it grows in many other tropical regions around the world.
It grows in pods that resemble peanuts, containing green, sour pulp. But as this fruit ripens, the pulp grows sweeter and juicier. The seeds, pulp, and leaves are all edible.
The African Baobab tree is the most prevalent of its kind in Africa.
It’s an ancient tree with many names, but it’s recognized as Africa’s tree of life.
This tree is also home to the African Baobab fruit. This fruit is a velvet-cover gourd that contains tart pulp.
Most people enjoy the pulp blended into a drink, while others cook and eat the nutritious leaves.
The matoke fruit is more commonly known as the East African highland banana.
It’s a medium-sized green fruit that looks just like a banana, aside from its bright green appearance.
But unlike bananas, you must cook matoke before eating it. Most people cook them in dishes similar to how you would cook potatoes.
African peaches were the first fruit ever exported from South Africa.
There are several different species of this fruit, all of which are categorized into either cling peaches or dessert peaches.
The difference between the two is the way the flesh clings to the seed.
Cling peaches attach firmly, while dessert peaches are larger, firmer, and pull away from the seed easily.
Both varieties are fleshy and sweet.
- African Medlar
- Kola Nut
- African Mango
- Horned Melon
- African Star Apple
- African Baobab
- African Peach
Of all the fantastic things to explore about Africa, the natural vegetation that grows there is not something you should ignore. These African fruits are just a few of my favorites that I’ve tried along the way.
So if you’ve never had African fruit, you should seek these out and give them a taste. They’re well worth it!
Learn more about African cuisine and all about food on our blog!