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Family Cactaceae
Pitaya
Hylocereus undatus (Haw.) Britt. & Rose
DRAGON FRUIT

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.

Botany
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.

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

Constituents
- 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)

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


Parts used
Fruit, stems, sap.

Uses
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.
Folkloric
- 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.
Others
Coloring: Red and pink pulp can be source of food coloring agent.

Studies
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)

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


Last Update September 2014

Photos © Godofredo Stuart / StuartXchange

Additional Sources and Suggested Readings
(1)
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
(2)
Hylocereus undatus/ Dragon Fruit / H P M Gunasena, DKNG Pushpakumara et al /
(3)
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
(4)
BETACYANINS FROM HYLOCEREUS UNDATUS AS NATURAL FOOD COLORANTS / Lim Tze Han / Thesis / Master of Science / 2004
(5)
Strawberry Pear / Hylocereus undatus / Morton, J. 1987. Strawberry Pear. p. 347–348.
(6)
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.
(7)
ANTIOXIDANT ACTIVITY AND MECHANISM IN FLOWER OF HYLOCEREUS UNDATUS (HAW.) BRITT. ET ROSE / XICAN LI*, YAOXIANG GAO, WEIJUAN HAN, JING LIN, QIUPING HU, AND DONGFENG CHEN* / ACTA BIOLOGICA CRACOVIENSIA Series Botanica 55/1: 80–85, 2013 / DOI: 10.2478/abcsb-2013-00014
(8)
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)
(9)
Hylocereus undatus / Synonyms / The Plant List
(10)
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.
(11)
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
(12)
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
(13)
Dragon Fruit: Nutritional Value, Health Benefits and Calorie Count / Health Food Org.

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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