Other common names of Dragon fruit are Pitaya, Moon lovers, Night blooming Cereus, Strawberry Pear, Belle of the Night, Conderella plant, and Sweet Pitaya. Botanical name is Hylocereus undatus and belongs to Cactaceae (Cactus) family.
Dragon fruit is native of South America. Now, it is cultivated widely in South East Asia and available in all major cities in India.
Dragon fruit plant is a climbing cactus. The stems are spiny, green, and succulent. The spines are 1 cm long. The aerial roots help the plant to climb and the plant can grow to a height of 30 feet or more.
The flowers look like Bethlehem Lily and bloom in the night. The flowers are large and white. They are around 14 inches long and 12 inches across. When the flowers are pollinated, red fruits are produces, which are 5 inches to 20 inches long.
There are three varieties of Dragon fruit, dark pink skin with white-flesh, red skin with red flesh, and yellow skin with white flesh.
A single fruit weighs around 150 to 600 grams.
The black spots in the fruit are the seeds. The flesh is edible and is mildly sweet and low in calories.
The plant grows from seeds or from a portion of a plant. The seeds take 11 to `14 days to germinate. Do not water too much. Grows well in dry tropical climates with a moderate amount of rain. Provide a support for the plant to climb.
Dragon fruit flowers are edible and is used to make tea. The fruit is used to make juice, smoothies, and flavor beverages.
Picture above: Dragon fruits being sold in Singapore
Dragon fruit is a super fruit rich in vitamin C, B1, B2 and B3, and minerals such as iron, calcium, and phosphorus. As it is low in cholesterol and good source of monounsaturated fats, it is a good tonic for the heart. Being rich in fiber content, it helps in digestion, regulates diabetes, and reduces constipation. The seeds are a good source of protein.