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Is Dragon Fruit A Cactus? [The Basics For Beginners 2024]

Most of us might be familiar with the subtle taste of Dragon Fruit, but did you know that it is a Cactus fruit?

Generally, the exotic Dragon Fruit belongs to the family of Cactus with white, red, and yellow endocarp. These multi-colored fruits come from species including undatus, costaricensis, and megalanthus under the genus Hylocereus.

This edible Cactus Fruit has more than just the color, so follow along to learn in detail.

What Type of Plant Is Dragon Fruit?

Native to regions of Central and South America, Dragon Fruit is a tropical Cactus Fruit widely popular in Southeast Asia for its soft texture. 

Generally, Hylocereus undatus is the most common species of vine-Y Cactus that produces white endocarp Dragon Fruit. However, other species like H.costaricensis produce red-fleshed fruit, and H.megalanthus produce yellow-fleshed fruit.

Though Dragon Fruit itself refers to wholesome fruit, it also represents the entire Cactus plant it grows in.

Moreover, Dragon Fruit Cactus are epiphytic, boasting long, divided stems with aerial roots attached to surfaces.

The modified leaves or segmented stems are green or reddish and vine up to about 5-6 feet.

So, you must provide a circular metal frame support to the Dragon Fruit with 8.5×8.5 feet spacing around each plant for better spread and uniform growth.

Dragon Fruit Farm
You can also make a concrete trellis for sturdy support.

As the plant grows, it produces Pitaya flowers that bloom in about 7 to 8 months. But if you are container growing them indoors, the Cactus might take 2 long years to produce its first blooms. 

Often pollinated by bats and insects, the buds slowly swell and expand once successfully fertilized, spreading their “scales” apart. 

When the buds get pale green, each fruit starts out. And the harvestable ones look oval, elliptical, or pear-shaped fruits in bright red, purple, or yellow-skinned depending on the varieties. 

What Is the Difference Between Cactus and Dragon Fruit?

Apart from Dragon Fruit, several other members of the Cactaceae family, like the Prickly Pear and Barrel Cactus, bear fruit.

However, Dragon Fruit is the only Cacti commercially cultivated for the fruit.

Most people tend to compare Dragon Fruit, especially with the Prickly Pear.

But despite belonging to the same family, every Cactus has its unique feature in terms of taste, smell, appearance, and growing conditions.

The Hylocereus fruit has a thick fleshy pink cover that is smooth when touched, while Prickly Pear, aka Cactus Pear, has hair-like thorns on both the pads and fruit. 

IndicatorDragon Fruit Prickly Pear
Plant SizeHeight: 10 to 20 feet

Spread 5 to 6 feet
Height: 2 to 10 feet

Spread: 2 to 7 feet
FloweringJune to November May to July
Fruit SizeOblong fruit of about 4-5 inches thick with red and yellow peals with scale5 to 8 cm long fruit with red or yellow peel but has tiny spikes
TasteResemble Kiwi and Pear with Melon like crunchSweet Bubblegum like flavor

Is Dragon Fruit Cactus Edible?

The unique taste and texture of Dragon Fruit make it a refreshing and enjoyable delicacy to eat.

Not to mention the goodness packed inside the fruit, like anti-oxidants and flavonoids that helps with good skin and gut health.

Overall, the taste of the fruit is not dominantly sweet. But on a subtle end with a crunch similar to a firm melon.

While most compare the taste to be a combination of kiwi and pear, it is a popular choice in breakfast smoothies.

The tiny little seeds add a slight crunch, which goes well in a tropical sweet and sour salad with a few slices of Mango, Kiwi, Pineapple, and hot Peppers.

You can also enjoy the fruit alone by slicing the fruit lengthwise in half and scooping out the flesh. 

From Editorial Team 

Provide Ample Morning Sunlight!

Growing Dragon Fruits indoors adds up to the exotic interior of your home. But make sure to provide 6 to 8 hours of sunlight for fruits.

Keep them by the window for easy sunlight access as they get immovable due to heavy weight once they start growing in height.

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