Round, often red colored fruit with prominent scales. The thin rind encloses the large mass of sweetly flavored white or red pulp and small black seeds. Some varieties are pinkish or yellow.
A vining, terrestrial or epiphytic cactus, with fleshy stems reaching from a few inches up to 20ft long (in mature plants). The plant may grow out of, and over the ground or climb onto trees using aerial roots. Flowers are ornate and beautiful, and many related species are propagated as ornamentals. They bloom only at night, and usually last just one night where pollination is necessary to set fruit. In full production, pitahaya plants can have up to 4-6 fruiting cycles per year.
Will tolerate temperatures to 104F, and short periods of frost, but prolonged cold will damage or kill the plant.
Dragon Fruit grows best in dry, tropical or subtropical climates where annual rainfall ranges from 20-50" per year. In wet, tropical zones, plants may grow well but sometimes have problems setting fruit reliably. The plants aren't usually too picky as to soil type, but because of their epiphytic nature, it is recommended to grow them in soil that is supplemented with high amounts of organic material. The plant has been grown successfully in sandy soils. Shade is sometimes provided in hot climates.
By seed, or by stem cuttings.
Dragon fruit seeds are usually fairly easy to germinate but show variable germination rates. Fresh (undried) seeds will germinate quite rapidly, usually within just a few days. Dried seeds show longer germination periods and often germinate within 1-4 weeks, though some groups may need up to 8 weeks for germination. Plant seeds 1/4-1/2" deep in moist, sterile soil. Keep soil temperature consistent at 70-85F. Cool soils will significantly delay seed germination time and may inhibit germination completely.
Dragon fruit seeds are small and very fragile, so handle with care. Also take care in watering not to jostle the soil as seeds can become deeply buried where they may fail to breach the soil surface and rot.
Estimated germination time under optimal conditions: 1-4 weeks, though occasionally up to 8 weeks.
The fruit is popular eaten chilled, out of hand. It is also used to flavor drinks and pastries. Unopened flowerbuds are cooked and eaten as vegetables.
The exact origin is unknown, but is likely from Southern Mexico through Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador and Costa Rica. It is cultivated around the world in tropical regions.
Peruvian Apple Cactus
Orange Apple Cactus