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Family Cactaceae
Hylocereus undatus (Haw.) Britt. & Rose

Huo long guo

Scientific names Common names
Hylocereus undatus (Haw.) Britt. & Rose Pitaya (Tag., Engl.)
Hylocereus guatemaensis (Eichlam.) Britton & Rose Belle of the night (Engl.)
Hylocereus tricostatus (Goss.) Britton & Rose Dragon fruit (Engl.)
Cereus undalatus D. Dietr. Strawberry pear (Engl.)
Cereus undatus Pfeiff. Queen-of-the-night cactus (Engl.)
Cereus tricostatus Rol.-Goss. Nightblooming cactus (Engl.)
  Fire dragon fruit (Engl.)
  Pitahaya (Engl.)
  Red pitaya (Engl.)
  Nightblooming cereus (Engl.)

Other vernacular names
CHINESE: Huo long guo, Zun long guo.
FRENCH: Belle de nuit, Cierge-lezard, Pithaya roughe, Poire de chardon, Fruit de dragon.
GERMAN: Distelbrin, Echte stachebrin.
HAWAIIAN: Paniniokapunahou, Papipi pua, Panani o ka.
INDONESIAN: Buah naga.
PORTUGUESE: Cato-barse, Cardo-ananas.
SPANISH: Chaca, Chak-wob, Flor de caliz, Pitahaya, Reina de la noche, Zacamb.
SWEDISH: Distelbirn, Echtestachelbrin, Dachenfr skogskatus, Rud pitahaya.
VIETNAM: Thanh long.

Dragon fruit is a vining, terrestrial or epiphytic cactus with succulent three-winged, green stems, reaching up to 20 feet long. Wings are up to 50 millimeters wide with modulate margins, spine are 1 millimeter long. Plant may climb trees via aerial roots. Flowers are fragrant, white, up to 35 centimeters long, blooming at night. Fruit is round, red, pink or yellow, with prominent scales.

- Introduced.
- Probably from Mexico.
- Ornamental cultivation in tropical regions.

- Flowers yielded thirteen compounds: kaempferol (1), quercetin (2), isorhamnetin (3), kaempferol 3-O-alpha-L-arabinfuranoside (4), kaempferol 3-O-beta-D glucopyranoside (5), quercetin 3-O-beta-D-glucopyranoside (6), isorhamnetin 3-O-beta-D-glucopyranoside (7), kaempferol 3-O-beta-D-galactopyranoside (8), quercetin 3-O-beta-D-galactopyranoside (9), kaempferol 3-O-beta-D-rutinoside (10), isorhamnetin 3-O-beta-D-rutinoside (11), kaempferol 3-O-alpha-L-rhamopyranosyl-(1 --> 6)-beta-D-galactopyranoside (12), and isorhamnetin 3-O-alpha-L-rhamopyranosyl-(1 --> 6)-beta-D-galactopyranoside (13). (6)
- Air-dried, powdered stems contain B-sitosterol.

- Phytochemical screening of white dragon fruit yielded triterpenoid, alkaloid, flavonoid, and saponin. (see study below) (11)
- Nutrient content per 100 g yields: Water 87 g, protein 1.1g, fat 0.4 g, carbohydrates 11.0 g,
fiber 3 g, vitamin B1 (thiamine) 0.04 mg, vitamin B2 (riboflavin) 0.05 mg, vitamin B3 (niacin) 0.16 mg, vitamin C (ascorbic acid) 20.5 mg, calcium 8.5 mg, iron 1.9 mg, phosphorus 22.5 mg. (13)
- In proximate composition, mineral content and physiochemical property analysis of dragon fruit flower showed a high potassium content. One sample showed potassium 78.02 mg/g; with small amounts of sodium, 7.26 mg/g; calcium, 19.72 mg; magnesium, 11.87 mg; mg; iron, 0.02019 mg; copper,0.0153 mg; and zinc, 0.1404 mg/g. (15)

- Rich in vitamin C, phosphorus and calcium.
- Studies have shown wound healing, antioxidant, antibacterial, antiproliferative properties.

Parts used
Fruit, stems, flowers, sap.

Edibility / Culinary
- Fruit is edible; refreshing, slightly sweet, with a similarity to Kiwi fruit.
- Eaten raw, as fresh fruit.
- Used in fruit salads.
- Can be processed into various products such as: juices, sherbets, jam, syrup, ice cream, yogurt, jelly, candy and pastries.
- Flower buds can be used to make soup or mixed in salads; also, eaten as vegetable.
- Tea sometimes made from the flowers.
- No known medicinal folkloric use in the Philippines.
- Elsewhere, red fruit used to prevent colon cancer, for diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure.
- Sap of stems used as vermifuge, but said to be caustic and hazardous.
Coloring: Red and pink pulp can be source of food coloring agent.

Wound Healing:
In streptozotocin diabetic rats, where wound healing is delayed, topical applications of H. undatus showed wound healing effects with increases in hydroxyproline, tensile strength, total proteins, DNA collagen content and better epithelization. (1)
Antioxidant / Decrease Aortic Stiffness: Study of the aqueous extract of the fruit pulp of H. undatus in streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats showed it was effective in controlling oxidative damage and decreasing aortic stiffness. (3)
Betacyanins / Food Coloring: Study indicate an immense potential for development of natural food colorants from the fruit peel of Dragon fruit, with a longer shelf life than that of beet juice. (4)
Antioxidant / Flowers: Study evaluated the antioxidant activity and mechanisms of flower of Hylocereus undatus. The antioxidant activity seems attributable to total phenolics, mainly total flavonoids, with kaempferol as one of the main bioactive components. Antioxidant activity was effected through metal chelation and radical scavenging. (7)
Antibacterial / Peels: Study evaluated the antibacterial activity of various extracts of Hylocereus polyrhizus (red flesh pitaya) and Hylocereus undatus (while flesh pitaya) peels against pathogens. The chloroform extracts of peels exhibited the most potent antibacterial activity with inhibition of almost all pathogens. (8)
Antioxidant / Fruit: Study of white dragon fruit yielded triterpenoid, alkaloid, flavonoid, and saponin. The methanolic extract showed strong antioxidant activity. (11)
Cytotoxic Activity / Cervical Cancer: Study evaluated the antiproliferative activity of H. undatus extract on cervix cancer cell line HeLa (PVH-18). Results showed the capacity of Hylocereus undatus compounds to diminish cell cell survival of cervix cancer cells in vitro and in vivo. (12)
Fruit Yogurt: Study showed dragon fruit can be effectively used for making set fruit yogurts. High sensory properties observed were 10% dragon fruit juice, 10% sugar and 0.8% gelatin. Developed product yielded 23.58% total solids, 9.64% solid non-fat, and 3.2% fat, with a 15-day storage under refrigeration conditions. (14)
Inhibition of Salmonella typhimurium / Fruit Extract: Study evaluated the inhibitory effect of Hylocereus undatus fruit extract against Salmonella typhimurium grown on Salmonella-Shigella agar. Findings showed inhibition of growth of Salmonella, with no inhibition of Shigella. (16)

- Ornamental cultivation.
- Commercial fruit crop.
- Plants and seeds in the cybermarket.

Last Update March 2015

Photos © Godofredo Stuart / StuartXchange

Additional Sources and Suggested Readings
Wound healing properties of Hylocereus undatus on diabetic rats / R. M. Perez G et al / Phytotherapy Research, Volume 19 Issue 8, Pages 665 - 668 / Published Online: 21 Sep 2005
Hylocereus undatus/ Dragon Fruit / H P M Gunasena, DKNG Pushpakumara et al /
Effect of dragon fruit extract on oxidative stress and aortic stiffness in streptozotocin-induced diabetes in rats / Kolla R L Anand Swarup et al / Pharmacognosy Research / Year : 2010 | Volume : 2 | Issue : 1 | Page : 31-35
Strawberry Pear / Hylocereus undatus / Morton, J. 1987. Strawberry Pear. p. 347–348.
Studies on the flavonoids from the flowers of Hylocereus undatus / Yi Y1, Wu X, Wang Y, Ye WC, Zhang QW. / Zhong Yao Cai. 2011 May;34(5):712-6.
Antibacterial property of Hylocereus polyrhizus and Hylocereus undatus peel extracts / Nurmahani, M.M., *Osman, A., Abdul Hamid, A., Mohamad Ghazali, F. and Pak Dek, M.S. / International Food Research Journal 19(1): 77-84 (2012)
Hylocereus undatus / Synonyms / The Plant List
Sorting Hylocereus names / /Maintained by: Michel H. Porcher / MULTILINGUAL MULTISCRIPT PLANT NAME DATABASE / Copyright © 1995 - 2020 / A Work in Progress. School of Agriculture and Food Systems. Faculty of Land & Food Resources. The University of Melbourne. Australia.
PHYTOCHEMICAL SCREENING AND ANALYSIS POLYPHENOLIC ANTIOXIDANT ACTIVITY OF METHANOLIC EXTRACT OF WHITE DRAGON FRUIT (Hylocereus undatus) / VH, Elfi Susanti; Utomo, Suryadi Budi; Syukri, Yandi; Redjeki, Tri / Indonesian Journal of Pharmacy / Majalah Farmasi Indonesia; Mar 2012, Vol. 23 Issue 1, p60
In vivo and in vitro cytotoxic activity of Hylocereus undatus fruit extract in cancer cells / Tannia Uribe Calvillo, Alejandro Soriano, Arnoldo Michel Rosales, Manuel Jimenez Estrada, Elpidio Peña Beltrán and Iván Delgado Enciso / The FASEB Journal. 2013; 27:1167.4
Dragon Fruit: Nutritional Value, Health Benefits and Calorie Count / Health Food Org.
PRODUCTION OF A NOVEL FRUIT-YOGHURT USING DRAGON FRUIT (HYLOCEREUS UNDATUS L.) / Oshadi Jayasinghe, B.Sc., Sumali Fernando, B.Sc., Vijith Jayamanne, PhD, Deepika Hettiarachchi, M.Sc. / European Scientific Journal January 2015 edition vol.11, No.3
Proximate composition, mineral analysis and physicochemical properties of dragon fruit (Hylocereus Undatus)'s flower / Ong , Meng Ooi (2007) Proximate composition, mineral analysis and physicochemical properties of dragon fruit (Hylocereus Undatus)'s flower. Universiti Malaysia Sabah. (Unpublished) / T Technology, Nutrition. Foods and food supply, School of Food Science and Nutrition
Inhibitory effect of hylocereus undatus (red dragon fruit) extract on salmonella typhimurium in salmonella-shigella agar. / N. Ranon Jr. / Fatima University Research Journal, 2008-2009, Isuue 4, pp 59-61.

It is not uncommon for links on studies/sources to change. Copying and pasting the information on the search window or using the DOI (if available) will often redirect to the new link page.

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