So, what’s a dragon fruit? The fruit of several cactus species, it’s native to South and Central America and also commercially cultivated in Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, Israel as well as Sri Lanka. There are two different species, one with white flesh and another with pink which are available in Florida from June through November.
What do they taste like? Personally, I found the taste to be a bit bland and not something I’d wake up thinking “Oh, I’m craving a dragon fruit”. The texture was that of a kiwi, flavor was mild (maybe pear, watermelon?). But as with all fruits, flavor depends on various factors. Having only had one, I can’t say for sure whether if that’s the norm.
The plant bears fruits for five months every year, usually from early summer through mid-fall. It begins flowering in early summer, typically in June, with fruit formation occurring shortly afterward. Dragon fruit flowers are open in the evening and last only one evening. It takes the fruits about 50 days to reach maturity after flowering and pollination occurs, and the dragon fruit continues to flower and set new fruits throughout its fruit-bearing season. Relatively long living, the dragon fruit can produce its first fruits within one year, and continue to fruit annually for 20 to 30 years before it begins to decline. They can reach up to 40 feet tall, with the large and tall specimens producing more fruits than the small, young plants or those reaching the end of their lifespan.
The fruits have been quite popular in Vietnam under the name of ‘dragon’s eyes’ or ‘thanh long’. In addition to its attractive color and shape, the dragon fruits also have a high nutritional value including vitamin C, calcium, potassium and fiber. They are claimed to reduce cholesterol that is the cause of coronary heart disease. As it helps the digestive system and also prevents cancer, the fruit is considered by some as a health fruit. Dragon fruit flowers are also edible when in the bud stage as a cooked vegetable.
- How to Prepare and Eat a Dragon Fruit (youtube.com)
- Dragon Fruit Health Benefits Are Only Surpassed By Their Beauty (huffingtonpost.com)
- Pitaya – Dragon Fruit (nt.gov.au)
- How Long Does Dragon Fruit Bear Fruit (sfgate.com)
- Fruits of Vietnam (fao.org)
- Dragon Fruit Suprisingly Easy to Grow (miamiherald.com)