A dragon fruit, also known as pitaya or pitahaya, is the fruit of several cactus species, most importantly of the genus Hylocereus (sweet pitayas). These fruit are commonly known as "fire dragon fruit", "dragon pearl fruit", or Vietnamese thanh long (green dragon). Other vernacular names are strawberry pear or nanettikafruit. In Mauritius, it is known as "Débousse-to-fesse" because of its laxative properties.
Native to Mexico and Central and South America, the vine-like epiphytic Hylocereus cacti are also cultivated in Southeast Asian countries such as Taiwan, Vietnam, Thailand, the Philippines, Sri Lanka and Malaysia. They are also found in Okinawa, Hawaiʻi, Israel, northern Australia and southern China. Hylocereus blooms only at night; the large white fragrant flowers of the typical cactusflower shape are among those called "moonflower" or "Queen of the Night". Sweet pitayas have a creamy pulp and a delicate aroma.
If not otherwise stated, this article's content refers specifically to the pitayas of Hylocereus species, or "dragon fruit".
Stenocereus fruit (sour pitayas) are of more local importance, being commonly eaten in the arid regions of the Americas. They are sourer and more refreshing, with juicier flesh and a stronger taste, and are relished by hikers. The common Sour Pitaya or pitaya agria (S. gummosus) in the Sonoran Desert has been an important food source for Native American peoples. The ...