Dragon fruit (pitaya or pitayaha) is an ovoid cactus fruit with a typically pink outer skin characterized by green- or yellow-tipped scale-like appendages. Some varieties may vary in their outer color, such as the yellow dragon fruit.Â The inner flesh of the fruit is often white and may also be magenta, and its seeds are invariably black.
Dragon fruit has been compared to melon in its taste, and is rich in calcium, fiber and vitamin C, as well as antioxidant properties.
A common way to eat dragon fruit is fresh, scooped directly out of the skin. It is also added to juices, smoothies and granola.
The cactus from which the fruit is harvested is long and vine-like, considered a semi-epiphyte. The cactus also produces large white flowers, which are often cooked and eaten in their bud form.
Although the true native origin of dragon fruit is disputed, the plant is commercially grown in Hawaii, California, Florida, Central and South America and, especially, in Asian countries like Vietnam. Asian traders once spread the folkloric tale that dragon fruit emerged from the mouths of actual dragons, in the wake of their fiery breath.
The three main commercial varieties around the world are Hylocereus guatemalensis, Hylocereus polyrhizus and Hylocereus undatus.