Friday, January 11, 2008

Dragon Fruit

The pitaya (also known as pitahaya, dragon fruit, huǒ lóng guǒ ("fire dragon fruit"), strawberry pear, nanettikafruit, or thanh long) is the fruit of several cactus species, especially of the genus Hylocereus, but also see Stenocereus. Native to Mexico and Central and South America, these vine-like epiphytic cacti are also cultivated in Southeast Asian countries such as Vietnam, the Philippines, and Malaysia. They are also found in Taiwan, Okinawa, Israel, and southern China. The pitaya blooms only at night; they are large white fragrant flowers, typical of cactus, that are often called Moonflower or Queen of the Night.
The species Stenocereus gummosus in the Sonoran Desert has been an important food source for Native American peoples. The Seri people of northwestern Mexico still harvest the highly appreciated fruit of the pitaya agria (Spanish), which the Seris call ziix is ccapxl - "thing whose fruit is sour".
The plant has adapted to live in dry tropical climates with a moderate amount of rain. The dragonfruit sets on the cactus-like tree 30-50 days after flowering and can sometimes have 5-6 cycles of harvests per year. There are some farms in Vietnam that produce 30 tons of fruit per hectare every year.

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