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What is Dragon Fruit?

By Garry Crystal
Updated May 16, 2024
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The Pitaya is more commonly referred to as the dragon fruit. It is an extremely beautiful fruit that has dazzling flowers and an intense shape and color. The dragon fruit is usually a dark red color, although some types of this fruit are pink or yellow. The skin of the dragon fruit is a thin rind. The skin is usually covered in scales, and the center of the fruit is made up of a red or white, sweet tasting pulp.

It not known exactly where the dragon fruit originated, but it is thought to have come from South America. The French are believed to have brought the dragon fruit to Vietnam over a hundred years ago. Dragon fruits were grown there to be eaten by royalty and very wealthy families. Now, the fruit flourishes in American states such as Texas, and is also grown in Mexico and other South American countries such as Argentina and Peru.

The dragon fruit is cultivated in tropical regions around the world. The plant of the dragon fruit can grow from around a few inches or centimeters to up to twenty feet (around six meters). It flourishes in hot regions with a heavy rainfall. Periods of cold will kill the plant, and it loves the high temperatures found in tropical countries.

The flowers of the dragon fruit plant only bloom at night and usually only live for one night. Pollination happens at this time to allow the fruit to emerge. The flowers of the dragon fruit give out a very beautiful scent, and the smell can fill the night air wherever the plant grows.

The dragon fruit is best eaten by cutting the fruit in half and scooping the flesh out. The flavor is very refreshing and sweet. Dragon fruits are delicious chilled and can be served in fruit juices and fruit salads or made into jam. They can also be juiced and added to alcohol to make a very delicious drink.

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Discussion Comments
By anon325470 — On Mar 16, 2013

It's too expensive. They claim this is because of the benefits. Well, if you can't afford to buy it on an ongoing basis, then tell me how beneficial is that? I think it's just greed. Oh, and if they grow them in the U.S., now why is it we never see the U.S.-grown dragon fruits in the market?

By anon316852 — On Jan 30, 2013

I think Dragon fruit looks like a type of cabbage on the outside, and vanilla ice cream with chocolate chips in the inside!

By anon311139 — On Dec 29, 2012

Yes you can plant Dragon Fruit seed and easily. Just dry them out for three days then plant, and you should see sprouts in as early as 10 days. The seedlings will be visible in about two or three weeks. Although it will take a long time for them to grow and mature and give fruit -- average three to four years.

By anon308801 — On Dec 12, 2012

The dragon fruit is high in vitamin C, phosphorus, calcium and fiber. It can grow in dry areas or Tropical regions. It is part of the cactus family.

By anon198201 — On Jul 19, 2011

We have a Dragon Fruit at home and it is wonderful.

By anon196680 — On Jul 15, 2011

This fruit is sold in the us--states like Texas and California and in Asian supermarkets.

By anon161065 — On Mar 18, 2011

I already planted a dragon fruit, I am so fascinated by this plant.

By anon154590 — On Feb 21, 2011

Dragon Fruit? We were not sure how it was going to taste like? so our boss let us try it but of course him first. to our surprise, a smile on his face said it all. believe me it tasted unreal and very very nice. There are some things you only try once but I would buy it again.

By anon152368 — On Feb 14, 2011

I purchased my first fruit at a great Asian market in Mesa, AZ. Beautiful as it is, eating it was not yummy. I believe it possesses nutritional benefits and I shall continue with it for a time. Most attractive fruit I have ever seen and hope that maybe I did not let it ripen enough.

By anon144035 — On Jan 18, 2011

why is the Dragon fruit not sold in wingham, Ontario, Canada?

By anon112392 — On Sep 20, 2010

It's very expensive here in philippines but it tastes good! I love it.

By JCisDway — On Jul 23, 2010

What if any benefits do the Dragon Fruit leaves or cacti part of it have? For example, can it be used on the hair, skin etc.?

By anon92115 — On Jun 25, 2010

The easiest to grow is Hylocereus undatus. It requires loamy soil and leaf mold or commercial camellia/azalea mix can be substituted. It will grow well in places in USDA zone 10 and may grow well in zone 9. The drawback is that this species is an epiphytic cactus, meaning it needs to grow on a trellis or tree.

The cactus also needs several years to reach a size so it will bloom. I have had one for six years and it has yet to bloom due to the fact that I live in zone 7 and have to keep it in a pot. Unless you live in a subtropical or tropical zone, you really need a greenhouse to grow it.

By anon81818 — On May 03, 2010

what are the nutrients that are in the dragon fruit?

By anon77657 — On Apr 15, 2010

can it grow in africa?

By anon77372 — On Apr 14, 2010

I am Shalom living in India and I'm very interested in trying one dragon fruit. where can I get one from?

By anon76578 — On Apr 11, 2010

i had grown my red and white dragon fruit from cuttings. after almost two years I have what it seems like flower head bursting from the plant tip. Hope i can eat this after this long. Sure it is fun to grow papayas, but they are really fussy after fertilizers preferring organic types.

By anon75939 — On Apr 08, 2010

I would like to try one, but I couldn't find it around here! I am living in Yellowknife, North Canada.

By anon74760 — On Apr 03, 2010

tastes delicious!

By anon70110 — On Mar 11, 2010

Just wonder how long would a dragon fruit plant last, from new plant to end stage of the plant; where it comes yellow and dies?

By Vincent9 — On Dec 08, 2009

Vietnamese dragon fruit tastes good, looks good, is nutritious, and available year round.

I just wonder why big companies are not bringing this great fruit to Americans and people of the world like they did with bananas.

By anon53907 — On Nov 25, 2009

it's too expensive in israel! it's so delicious though!

By anon51746 — On Nov 09, 2009

Dragon fruit is a good fruit, good resource of vitamins, fibers and minerals, helps in boosting immunity and digestion also prevents rare diseases. I love this fruit. --Sari17

By anon49942 — On Oct 24, 2009

dragon fruit is cheap in south east asia though more expensive than the usual orange apple mango. At least the one i've tried with the deep pink flesh has a light floral sweet taste to it. Very nice!

By anon48732 — On Oct 14, 2009

I have not eaten my fruit yet. I hope i will like it how ever i am not crazy about kiwi by itself. It is good in a fruit salad and i feel this may be the case with this fruit. Does the plant look like a cactus. In one of the comments they said be careful. Why would that be? I have asthma it also said that it was good for breathing. Is this so?

By anon44212 — On Sep 05, 2009

i have read from a local magazine that dragon fruit contains high levels of vitamin c, calcium and phosphorus with high levels of antioxidants.

By venurak — On Aug 04, 2009

what are the optimum physical and chemical soil conditions required for dragon fruit growth?

By ilovefruits — On Jul 31, 2009

So the one thing your article (and others on the web) is not telling me "how do I know when the dragonfruit is ripe?" Should it feel like a peach, avocado, cantaloupe, or apple? Can I tell by a pleasant scent? How relevant is color to ripeness?

By anon39318 — On Jul 31, 2009

Can the dragon fruit be a dietary supplement?

By anon39315 — On Jul 31, 2009

I'm Barbara Kasey Smith, a college professor. On the year 2004, dietary supplements made up of Dragon Fruit emerges, which means that Dragon Fruit contains Fiber that causes it to reduce fat. I'm a biology major, and we all know that metabolism and obesity are closely related. I think aside from having the potential to reduce fat and help in weight-loss, maybe it can also be a metabolic enhancer. What do you think? Maybe it has proteins or vitamins that can perform the metabolic enhancement. If I were not mistaken (I studied this a long time ago, I hope I'm not forgetting this) vitamin B1 and B2 are the ones responsible in metabolism. Maybe this fruit contains the said vitamins. For those who feel that their metabolism is a bit slow, maybe you can try this fruit. There's no harm in trying anyway. thank you very much :)

By anon28546 — On Mar 18, 2009

asavella .. No, you can't propagate dragon fruit from seeds.

anon3166 ... I ate the fruits ever since I'm little and No, I'm not crazy or sick, well, maybe the flu, but that doesn't have anything to do with the fruits.. lol.. Also, you can only eat the flesh, the rinds you peel and throw away.

By asavella — On Mar 16, 2009

Can we propagate dragon fruit from seeds?

By anon28372 — On Mar 15, 2009

We have purchased a couple of dragon fruit at Whole Foods in Miami. It is beautiful and tastes, to us, very much like kiwi. The only problem is that is incredibly expensive.

By anon27735 — On Mar 04, 2009

The Dragon fruit is grown from a orchid cactus generally called night blooming cereus. The blooms can be quite lavish ranging from 5-10". You can find them for sale from tropical plant growers. I am not sure if all types will produce Fruit. Hylocereus undatus seems to be the one, although I am not sure if Epiphyllum oxypentalum does or not. I have seen nothing about hybrids producing fruit.

Apparently the plants need to be older to fruit. Personally, I am going to try sprouting seeds from a fruit to get the type of plant I want instead of guessing which of the three types I would end up with.

You can find them occasionally at groceries that carry exotic foods.

By anon18480 — On Sep 24, 2008

Just to add that the flower of the Pitaya or Dragon Fruit is known as Bawang hua in Chinese. In Mainland China, the fresh flowers or dried ones are cooked with pork ribs as a soup. It is believed that the bawang hua has a 'cooling' effect (i.e. 'yin' food) on the body and is consumed during the hot months.

By ShiraAnn — On Sep 06, 2008

We can tell when our dragon fruit is ripe because the bloom will fall off the very top and the fruit itself will usually turn red....except the yellow dragon. When the prickers fall off easily they are ripe. Some will twist off very easily.

By anon15776 — On Jul 21, 2008

Dragon fruit does NOT taste like ham, it is sweet. If you want to yield the greatest amount of fruits....think of how nature pollinates flowers. The Dragon fruit boosts the immune system, respiratory system and is physically full of natural fiber...so be careful hah

By herby1618 — On May 09, 2008

I am wanting to know where to buy the plant or seed for Dragon fruit, I live in the tropics (in australia)

By anon10367 — On Mar 26, 2008

what are the virus diseases in dragon fruits?

By Diluk — On Feb 22, 2008

Please be kind enough to provide more information about the production and market of the " Dragon Fruit"

By disanayake — On Feb 12, 2008

Does anyone have information or guidance of growing & selling Dragon fruit?

By anon6670 — On Jan 06, 2008

The Dragon fruit tastes very much like ham.

By anon3166 — On Aug 14, 2007

Can you eat the whole fruit and rind of the dragon fruit? I was told that it could make you crazy or sick. I know this sounds silly but this is a genuine question and look forward to your answer.

By anon922 — On May 08, 2007

I have a big dragon fruit vine. During the summer it blooms 4 or 5 times with 80 to 100 flowers each time, but I only get 4 or 5 fruits with each bloom. Can I increase my fruits by hand pollenating? And just exactly how do I hand pollenate?

By Dayton — On May 01, 2007

@ anon608 - Dragon fruit is rich in vitamin C and antioxidants, and therefore are thought to have many important health benefits, including boosting immunity and preventing cancer.

By anon608 — On Apr 30, 2007

What are the health benefits of this fruit ?

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