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.
- 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)
- Rich in vitamin C, phosphorus and calcium.
- Studies have shown wound healing, antioxidant, antibacterial, antiproliferative properties.
Fruit, stems, 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 ine 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)
- Ornamental cultivation.
- Commercial fruit crop.
- Plants and seeds in the cybermarket.