Dragon Fruit

Gotta tell you, I’m besotted with my dragon fruit plant! It flowered for the first time recently.

dragon fruit flower

Correctly named Pitaya, the dragon fruit plant is a member of the cactus family and originated in South America and Mexico. It’s a climbing plant which not only has basal roots but also uses aerial roots from its segmented branches to cling to a structure. Once it has reached the top of the structure it begins to arch and branch. It’s a good idea to grow it against a structure that’s not too tall, or cut the top off the plant when it gets to a desired height so it will begin to branch. It flowers mostly from these branches.

dragon fruit aerial roots

The pitaya begins to arch and branch as thin spaghetti-like aerial roots cling to the old tree trunk

I do enjoy the subtle taste and crunchy seeds of the pitaya, but that’s not the only reason these plants are fabulous…

  • They are wild looking!. The vine, the buds, the flowers, the fruit are all rather special.

 

dragon fruit bud 2

Flower bud

 

 

  • The flowers are spectacular. They are huge, about 20cm across, and have vivid white petals. The stamens within are a bright yellow. Stunning! But what makes them more unusual is they open at night  –  for only one night. The pollinators are nocturnal creatures like bats and moths or early morning bees and ants.

dragon fruit flower 3

 

dragon fruit flower 2

Once the sun hits the flowers in the morning, they wilt.

 

dragon fruit flower wilted

The day after blooming

 

  • The unusual texture and bright colour of the fruit – hence the name dragon fruit. They’re ready to pick when the ‘dragon scales’ dry at the tips and the fruit is a little soft. The bright red flesh with tiny black seeds can be scooped out and eaten like kiwifruit.

 

dragon fruit to pick (2)

Ready to pick

 

  • Like lots of cacti, they are easy to grow from cuttings. Take a cutting (any time of the year) from the middle of a segment of the parent plant. Let it dry out for a week or so, then plant directly in the ground or in a pot.
  • Again, being a cactus, they are extremely hardy. They perform well in dry conditions and have few problems with pests and disease. Not even  nasty fruit flies attack them.

 

dragon fruit sliced.JPG

Ready to eat

 

So, what’s not to love about the dragon fruit plant!

 

 

 

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