Dragon Fruit
Fruit (cut and whole) [Red Pitaya, Night blooming Cereus, Than long (Vietnam), Hylocereus undatus]

These cactus are native to Mexico, Central and South America but are now grown commercially throughout Southeast Asia, southern China and northern Australia and Hawaii, but particularly in Vietnam. In Southern California the fruit is most commonly found in Asian markets - and in other parts of the country it is found in expensive gourmet restaurants.

There are other Hylocereus species which produce similar fruit, particularly H. costaricensis (Costa Rick Pitaya) which is red with red flesh and H. megalanthus (Yellow Pitaya), a South American species that produces a yellow fruit with white flesh.

Plants with green fruit The photo shows several dragon fruit cacti growing in a commercial plantation, probably in Vietnam. The fruit at the ends of the fronds is still green and very immature.   Photo © i0110.

Buying:   These can most commonly be found in markets serving a Southeast Asian community, as most imported come from Vietnam. In Southern California they are generally shrink wrapped to a foam tray, two fruits to a tray, and placed in the fresh fruit section. Look for fruit where the leaves are still green which indicates freshness.

Eating:   Dragon fruit is considered best chilled. You can cut the fruit in half lengthwise and just eat the flesh with a spoon or cut into wedges which will not need a spoon. The flesh is foamy and sweet - the rind is not eaten.

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