Dragon fruit



Dragon fruit (Hylocereus undatus) is a tropical fruit that belongs to the climbing cacti (Cactaceae) family. Widely cultivated in Vietnam, the fruit is popular in Southeast Asia and is.1 Apart from being refreshing and tasty, the dragon fruit is a rich source of vitamin C, calcium and phosphorus, and is known to aid digestion.2

Origin and distribution
The dragon fruit’s scientific name is derived from the Greek word hyle (woody), the Latin word cereus (waxen) and the Latin word undatus, which refers to the wavy edges of its stems.3 The origin of the dragon fruit is unknown, but it is probably native to Central America.4 It is also known as pitahaya in Mexico, and pitaya roja in Central America and northern South America. The Spanish name pitahaya may also refer to several other species of tall cacti with flowering fruit.5


The French introduced the fruit into Vietnam over a hundred years ago.6 According to some accounts, the French took the fruit from Nicaragua and Colombia, while others say the French brought it with them from Guyana (South America) in 1870 as an ornamental plant.7 Today, Vietnam is the world’s leading exporter of dragon fruit, with revenues from dragon fruit making up 55 percent of the country’s fruit export turnover.8

However, the fruit is also increasingly being cultivated in other countries such as Thailand, Indonesia, Israel, northern Australia, southern China, the Philippines and Hawaii, challenging Vietnam’s dominance.9 China, which imports 77 percent of Vietnam’s dragon fruit production, has successfully cultivated the crop on 20,000 ha of land in Guangdong and Guangxi provinces alone, an area roughly equal to that dedicated to the plant in the whole of Vietnam.10

Description
The plant is a climbing cactus vine that grows well in dry areas.11 Because of its epiphytic nature, it grows best in soil with a high level of organic materials.12 Its flowers bloom only at night, hence the plant is sometimes also called the “moonflower” or “Lady of the Night”.13 The flowers, which bloom for only one night,14 are white and large, measuring 30 cm long or more.15 They are bell-shaped and produce a sweet fragrance when in bloom.16 Pitahaya plants can have between four to six fruiting cycles in one year.17 It can be propagated by seed or by stem cuttings.18

The dragon fruit has a dramatic appearance, with bright pink- and yellow-skinned varieties and prominent scales.19 The fruit is oval, elliptical or pear-shaped. The flesh has a subtly flavoured sweet taste or sometimes slightly sourish taste.20 The flesh is either white or red, with black seeds dotted all over.21 The seeds, which resemble those of a kiwi, are edible.22

The dragon fruit is closely related to the orchid cacti, or epiphyllum, which are known for their large and impressive flowers. The pitahaya can be cross-pollinated with the epiphyllum.23

Usage and potential
Food
The fruit is commonly eaten raw and is thought to taste better chilled.24 It is also served as a juice or made into a fruit sorbet.25 The fruit can be used to flavour drinks, while syrup made of the whole fruit is used to colour pastries and candy.26 Unopened flower buds can be cooked like vegetables.27

Medicine
The dragon fruit reputedly improves eyesight and controls hypertension,28 while the seeds supposedly help in controlling blood glucose levels in people with non-insulin-dependent hyperglycaemic conditions (a kind of diabetes).29

Other uses

The plant is popularly planted as a climber to cover chain-link fencing.30

Variant names
Common names: dragon fruit, dragon pearl fruit,31 pitahaya,32 strawberry pear,33 night-blooming cereus, Belle of the Night,34 Cinderella plant35
Scientific name: Hylocereus undatus or Cereus triangularis36
Malay/Indonesian: buah naga or buah mata naga37
Mandarin: long guo38
Vietnamese: thanh long39



Authors

Naidu Ratnala Thulaja & Nor-Afidah Abd Rahman




References
1. Blancke, R. (2016). Tropical fruits and other edible plants of the world: An illustrated guide. New York: Comstock Publishing Associates, p. 129. (Call no.: RSEA 634.6 BLA); Dragon fruit exported for $45/tray. (2004, March 5). New Zealand Press Association; Lam, P. S. (2000, October 21). Desert blooms. New Straits Times, p. 8; Morris, K. (2003, January 14). Moonflower a lady of the night. Cairns Post, p. 21. Retrieved from Factiva via NLB’s eResources website: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/; Morton, J. (1987). Strawberry pear. Retrieved 2016, November 22 from Purdue University Center for New Crops & Plant Products website: https://hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/morton/strawberry_pear_ars.html
2. Dragon fruit exported for $45/tray. (2004, March 5). New Zealand Press Association; Imee’s beauty secret soon to abound in the north. (2010, August 26). Manila Bulletin; Morris, K. (2003, January 14). Moonflower a lady of the night. Cairns Post, p. 21. Retrieved from Factiva via NLB’s eResources website: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/
3. Duff, D. (2015, October 4). Tasty dragon fruit is easy to grow. West Hawaii Today. Retrieved from Factiva via NLB’s eResources website: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/

4. Blancke, R. (2016). Tropical fruits and other edible plants of the world: An illustrated guide. New York: Comstock Publishing Associates, p. 129. (Call no.: RSEA 634.6 BLA); Dragon fruit exported for $45/tray. (2004, March 5). New Zealand Press Association; Lam, P. S. (2000, October 21). Desert blooms. New Straits Times, p. 8; Morris, K. (2003, January 14). Moonflower a lady of the night. Cairns Post, p. 21. Retrieved from Factiva via NLB’s eResources website: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/; Morton, J. (1987). Strawberry pear. Retrieved 2016, November 22 from Purdue University Center for New Crops & Plant Products website: https://hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/morton/strawberry_pear_ars.html
5. Morton, J. (1987). Strawberry pear. Retrieved 2016, November 22 from Purdue University Center for New Crops & Plant Products website: https://hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/morton/strawberry_pear_ars.html; Pitahaya. In The Oxford English Dictionary. (1989.) Oxford: Clarendon Press; New York: Oxford University Press. (Call no.: R 423 OXF-[DIC])
6. Baxter, P. (2002, November 20). Fruits of labour just deliciously different. Northern Territory News (Australia), p. 5; Morris, K. (2003, January 14). Moonflower a lady of the night. Cairns Post, p. 21. Retrieved from Factiva via NLB’s eResources website: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/
7. Morris, K. (2003, January 14). Moonflower a lady of the night. Cairns Post, p. 21; A one-night affair for dragon fruit. (2016, September 6). The Jakarta Post. Retrieved from Factiva via NLB’s eResources website: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/

8. Earning $1 billion, but Vietnamese fruit exporters can’t get good night’s sleep. (2014, February 26). Vietnam News Summary. Retrieved from Factiva via NLB’s eResources website: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/

9. Duff, D. (2015, October 4). Tasty dragon fruit is easy to grow. West Hawaii Today; Earning $1 billion, but Vietnamese fruit exporters can’t get good night’s sleep. (2014, February 26). Vietnam News Summary; Imee’s beauty secret soon to abound in the north. (2010, August 26). Manila Bulletin. Retrieved from Factiva via NLB’s eResources website: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/

10. Earning $1 billion, but Vietnamese fruit exporters can’t get good night’s sleep. (2014, February 26). Vietnam News Summary. Retrieved from Factiva via NLB’s eResources website: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/

11. Blancke, R. (2016). Tropical fruits and other edible plants of the world: An illustrated guide. New York: Comstock Publishing Associates, p. 129. (Call no.: RSEA 634.6 BLA); Lam, P. S. (2000, October 21). Desert blooms. New Straits Times, p. 8; Morris, K. (2003, January 14). Moonflower a lady of the night. Cairns Post, p. 21. Retrieved from Factiva via NLB’s eResources website: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/; Morton, J. (1987). Strawberry pear. Retrieved 2016, November 22 from Purdue University Center for New Crops & Plant Products website: https://hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/morton/strawberry_pear_ars.html; Trade winds fruit. (2004). Dragon fruit. Retrieved 2016, November 22 from Trade Winds Fruit website: http://www.tradewindsfruit.com/content/dragon-fruit.htm
12. Blancke, R. (2016). Tropical fruits and other edible plants of the world: An illustrated guide. New York: Comstock Publishing Associates, p. 129. (Call no.: RSEA 634.6 BLA); Morris, K. (2003, January 14). Moonflower a lady of the night. Cairns Post, p. 21; Duff, D. (2015, October 4). Tasty dragon fruit is easy to grow. West Hawaii Today. Retrieved from Factiva via NLB’s eResources website: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/; Trade winds fruit. (2004). Dragon fruit. Retrieved 2016, November 22 from Trade Winds Fruit website: http://www.tradewindsfruit.com/content/dragon-fruit.htm
13. Dragon fruit exported for $45/tray. (2004, March 5). New Zealand Press Association; Lam, P. S. (2000, October 21). Desert blooms. New Straits Times, p. 8; Morris, K. (2003, January 14). Moonflower a lady of the night. Cairns Post, p. 21. Retrieved from Factiva via NLB’s eResources website: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/
14. Morris, K. (2003, January 14). Moonflower a lady of the night. Cairns Post, p. 21; Duff, D. (2015, October 4). Tasty dragon fruit is easy to grow. West Hawaii Today. Retrieved from Factiva via NLB’s eResources website: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/; Morton, J. (1987). Strawberry pear. Retrieved 2016, November 22 from Purdue University Center for New Crops & Plant Products website: https://hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/morton/strawberry_pear_ars.html
15. Blancke, R. (2016). Tropical fruits and other edible plants of the world: An illustrated guide. New York: Comstock Publishing Associates, p. 129. (Call no.: RSEA 634.6 BLA); Lam, P. S. (2000, October 21). Desert blooms. New Straits Times, p. 8. Retrieved from Factiva via NLB’s eResources website: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/
16. Blancke, R. (2016). Tropical fruits and other edible plants of the world: An illustrated guide. New York: Comstock Publishing Associates, p. 129. (Call no.: RSEA 634.6 BLA); Dragon fruit exported for $45/tray. (2004, March 5). New Zealand Press Association. Retrieved from Factiva via NLB’s eResources website: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/

17. Trade winds fruit. (2004). Dragon fruit. Retrieved 2016, November 22 from Trade Winds Fruit website: http://www.tradewindsfruit.com/content/dragon-fruit.htm; Duff, D. (2015, October 4). Tasty dragon fruit is easy to grow. West Hawaii Today. Retrieved from Factiva via NLB’s eResources website: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/

18. Lam, P. S. (2000, October 21). Desert blooms. New Straits Times, p. 8. Retrieved from Factiva via NLB’s eResources website: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/; Trade winds fruit. (2004). Dragon fruit. Retrieved 2016, November 22 from Trade Winds Fruit website: http://www.tradewindsfruit.com/content/dragon-fruit.htm
19. Dragon fruit exported for $45/tray. (2004, March 5). New Zealand Press Association; Lam, P. S. (2000, October 21). Desert blooms. New Straits Times, p. 8; Morris, K. (2003, January 14). Moonflower a lady of the night. Cairns Post, p. 21; Duff, D. (2015, October 4). Tasty dragon fruit is easy to grow. West Hawaii Today. Retrieved from Factiva via NLB’s eResources website: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/; Trade winds fruit. (2004). Dragon fruit. Retrieved 2016, November 22 from Trade Winds Fruit website: http://www.tradewindsfruit.com/content/dragon-fruit.htm
20. Lam, P. S. (2000, October 21). Desert blooms. New Straits Times, p. 8. Retrieved from Factiva via NLB’s eResources website: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/

21. Baxter, P. (2002, November 20). Fruits of labour just deliciously different. Northern Territory News (Australia), p. 5; Dragon fruit exported for $45/tray. (2004, March 5). New Zealand Press Association; Lam, P. S. (2000, October 21). Desert blooms. New Straits Times, p. 8; Morris, K. (2003, January 14). Moonflower a lady of the night. Cairns Post, p. 21. Retrieved from Factiva via NLB’s eResources website: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/; Blancke, R. (2016). Tropical fruits and other edible plants of the world: An illustrated guide. New York: Comstock Publishing Associates, p. 129. (Call no.: RSEA 634.6 BLA); Morton, J. (1987). Strawberry pear. Retrieved 2016, November 22 from Purdue University Center for New Crops & Plant Products website: https://hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/morton/strawberry_pear_ars.html
22. Baxter, P. (2002, November 20). Fruits of labour just deliciously different. Northern Territory News (Australia), p. 5; Duff, D. (2015, October 4). Tasty dragon fruit is easy to grow. West Hawaii Today; Morris, K. (2003, January 14). Moonflower a lady of the night. Cairns Post, p. 21. Retrieved from Factiva via NLB’s eResources website: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/
23. Top tropicals. (n.d.). Pitaya, Pitahaya. Retrieved 2016, November 23 from Top Tropicals website: https://toptropicals.com/html/toptropicals/articles/cacti/pitaya.htm
24. Blancke, R. (2016). Tropical fruits and other edible plants of the world: An illustrated guide. New York: Comstock Publishing Associates, p. 129. (Call no.: RSEA 634.6 BLA); Lam, P. S. (2000, October 21). Desert blooms. New Straits Times, p. 8; Morris, K. (2003, January 14). Moonflower a lady of the night. Cairns Post, p. 21. Retrieved from Factiva via NLB’s eResources website: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/; Morton, J. (1987). Strawberry pear. Retrieved 2016, November 22 from Purdue University Center for New Crops & Plant Products website: https://hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/morton/strawberry_pear_ars.html
25. Blancke, R. (2016). Tropical fruits and other edible plants of the world: An illustrated guide. New York: Comstock Publishing Associates, p. 129. (Call no.: RSEA 634.6 BLA); Karp, D. (2002, September 18). Purple, spiny, and heading your way. Los Angeles Times; Lam, P. S. (2000, October 21). Desert blooms. New Straits Times, p. 8. Retrieved from Factiva via NLB’s eResources website: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/; Morton, J. (1987). Strawberry pear. Retrieved 2016, November 22 from Purdue University Center for New Crops & Plant Products website: https://hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/morton/strawberry_pear_ars.html
26. Blancke, R. (2016). Tropical fruits and other edible plants of the world: An illustrated guide. New York: Comstock Publishing Associates, p. 129. (Call no.: RSEA 634.6 BLA); Morton, J. (1987). Strawberry pear. Retrieved 2016, November 22 from Purdue University Center for New Crops & Plant Products website: https://hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/morton/strawberry_pear_ars.html; Trade winds fruit. (2004). Dragon fruit. Retrieved 2016, November 22 from Trade Winds Fruit website: http://www.tradewindsfruit.com/content/dragon-fruit.htm
27. Blancke, R. (2016). Tropical fruits and other edible plants of the world: An illustrated guide. New York: Comstock Publishing Associates, p. 129. (Call no.: RSEA 634.6 BLA); Morton, J. (1987). Strawberry pear. Retrieved 2016, November 22 from Purdue University Center for New Crops & Plant Products website: https://hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/morton/strawberry_pear_ars.html
28. Choy, D. (2009, December 19). Hawaii’s gardens. Honolulu Advertiser. Retrieved from Factiva via NLB’s eResources website: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/
29. Fred’s fruity New Year boon. (2001, January 20). Northern Territorian. Retrieved from Factiva via NLB’s eResources website: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/

30. Lam, P. S. (2000, October 21). Desert blooms. New Straits Times, p. 8. Retrieved from Factiva via NLB’s eResources website: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/

31. Baxter, P. (2002, November 20). Fruits of labour just deliciously different. Northern Territory News (Australia), p. 5; Dragon fruit exported for $45/tray. (2004, March 5). New Zealand Press Association. Retrieved from Factiva via NLB’s eResources website: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/

32. Dragon fruit exported for $45/tray. (2004, March 5). New Zealand Press Association; Morris, K. (2003, January 14). Moonflower a lady of the night. Cairns Post, p. 21; Duff, D. (2015, October 4). Tasty dragon fruit is easy to grow. West Hawaii Today. Retrieved from Factiva via NLB’s eResources website: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/

33. Morton, J. (1987). Strawberry pear. Retrieved 2016, November 22 from Purdue University Center for New Crops & Plant Products website: https://hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/morton/strawberry_pear_ars.html
34. Duff, D. (2015, October 4). Tasty dragon fruit is easy to grow. West Hawaii Today. Retrieved from Factiva via NLB’s eResources website: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/
35. LLifle Encyclopedias of living forms. (2005, November 14). Hylocereus undatus. Retrieved 2016, November 22 from LLifle Encyclopedias of living forms website: http://www.llifle.com/Encyclopedia/CACTI/Family/Cactaceae/7429/Hylocereus_undatus
36. Lam, P. S. (2000, October 21). Desert blooms. New Straits Times, p. 8. Retrieved from Factiva via NLB’s eResources website: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/; Morton, J. (1987). Strawberry pear. Retrieved 2016, November 22 from Purdue University Center for New Crops & Plant Products website: https://hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/morton/strawberry_pear_ars.html
37. Buah segar Malaysia. (2007, April 28). Berita Harian, p. 28. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; UII offers research grant. (2006, December 10). The Jakarta Post. Retrieved from Factiva via NLB’s eResources website: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/
38. Dragon fruit frenzy. (2015, Jul 27). Taipei Times. Retrieved 2016, November 22 from Taipei Times website: http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/lang/archives/2015/07/27/2003623960
39. Baxter, P. (2002, November 20). Fruits of labour just deliciously different. Northern Territory News (Australia), p. 5. Retrieved from Factiva via NLB’s eResources website: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/



The information in this article is valid as at 1998 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.
 

Subject
Tropical fruit--Asia, Southeastern
Plants
Science and technology>>Agriculture>>Fruit crops
Nature>>Plants