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Hylocereus undatus - (Haw.) Britton & Rose

Common Name Dragon Fruit, Red Pitaya
Family Cactaceae
USDA hardiness 10-12
Known Hazards Plant has spines or sharp edges; use extreme caution when handling
Habitats An epiphytic or terrestrial plant, growing in thickets, hedges, on rocks or rock walls, at elevations up to 2,000 metres[335 ].
Range Central America - Mexico southwards, also in the West Indies.
Edibility Rating    (4 of 5)
Other Uses    (2 of 5)
Weed Potential Yes
Medicinal Rating    (0 of 5)
Tender Well drained soil Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun
Hylocereus undatus Dragon Fruit, Red Pitaya

Bùi Thy Ðào Nguyên wikimedia
Hylocereus undatus Dragon Fruit, Red Pitaya
T.Voekler wikimedia


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Other common names include Red Pitaya, Strawberry Pear, Night Blooming Cereus, Queen of the Night, and Honolulu Queen. Hylocereus undatus or commonly known as Dragon Fruit is a climbing cactus or succulent shrub with triangular stalks that can be up to 7 m long. It produces aerial roots enabling it to climb and support itself. It is widely cultivated for its edible fruit with a sweet and pleasant flavor. The fruit is red, 7-12 cm long, and covered in prominent scales. The flowers are white but yellowish-green on the outside and open at night. The plant is also used as an ornamental plant. It is fast growing and can be grown in semi-shade or full sun.

Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of shrub
Hylocereus undatus is an evergreen Shrub growing to 4 m (13ft) by 2 m (6ft) at a fast rate.
It is hardy to zone (UK) 10. The flowers are pollinated by Bats.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils, prefers well-drained soil and can grow in nutritionally poor soil. Suitable pH: acid and neutral soils and can grow in very acid soils.
It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers dry or moist soil and can tolerate drought.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Cereus tricostatus Gosselin Cereus undatus Haw. Hylocereus guatemalensis (Weing.) Britton & Rose Hyl


Edible Uses

Fruit - raw or cooked[335 ]. Delicious[317 ]. A sweet, pleasant flavour[335 ]. The red fruit is 7 - 12cm long, covered in prominent scales[335 ]. Unopened flower buds can be cooked and eaten as a vegetable[377 ].

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

None known

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Edible Shrubs provides detailed information, attractively presented, on over 70 shrub species. They have been selected to provide a mix of different plant sizes and growing conditions. Most provide delicious and nutritious fruit, but many also have edible leaves, seeds, flowers, stems or roots, or they yield edible or useful oil.

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Other Uses

Agroforestry Uses: The plant can be used to make a beautiful flowering hedge[317 ]. Other Uses: None known

Cultivation details

A plant of the warm tropical lowlands with low to high rainfall[335 ]. It grows best in areas where annual daytime temperatures are within the range 18 - 28c, but can tolerate 12 - 34c[418 ]. It succeeds with a mean annual rainfall in the range 300 - 3,500mm[418 ]. Often an epiphytic plant, though it also grows on the ground. Requires a well-drained soil and a pH of 6 or lower[200 ]. Prefers a pH in the range 5.3 - 6.7, tolerating 5 - 7.5[418 ]. Widely cultivated in the tropics and subtropics, it has often escaped from cultivation and become naturalised. It has been classified as 'invasive' in some areas, where it often spreads vegetatively[305 ]. Plants grow well, but do not always set fruit well, when growing in the wetter areas of the tropics[377 ]. They can have 4-6 fruiting cycles per year. Flowering Time: Late Summer/Early Fall. Bloom Color: Green White/Near White. Spacing: 12-15 in. (30-38 cm).

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Seed - Stem cuttings. The cuttings are usually dried out for a week or two. The plants are self sterile and have to be pollinated by bats and moths. Hand pollination is recommended for good fruit production.

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Dragon Fruit, Red Pitaya, Strawberry Pear, Night blooming Cereus, Queen of the Night, Honolulu Queen, Chacam, Chak-wob, Flor de caliz, Junco tapatio, Night blooming cereus, Pitahaya, Pitaia-branca, Pitaia-vermelha, Pitaya orejona, Pitaya, Pratiel puehs, Queen of the night, Reina de la noche, Strawberry pear, Tasajo, Thang loy, Zacamb,

Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

Anguilla; Antigua and Barbuda; Aruba; Bahamas; Barbados; Belize; Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba; Cayman Islands; Costa Rica; Cuba; Curaçao; Dominica; Dominican Republic; Grenada; Guadeloupe; Haiti; Honduras; Jamaica; Martinique; Montserrat; Nicaragua; Panama; Saint Kitts and Nevis; Saint Lucia; Saint Vincent and the Grenadines; Sint Maarten (Dutch part); Trinidad and Tobago; Turks and Caicos Islands; United States; Virgin Islands, British; Virgin Islands, U.S.; Brazil, Africa, Asia, Australia, Bahamas, Belize, Bermuda, Brazil, Cambodia, Central America, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, East Africa, El Salvador, Guatemala, Hawaii, Indochina, Israel, Jamaica, Mexico*, Mozambique, Nauru, Nicaragua, North America, Pacific, SE Asia, Singapore, Solomon Islands, South America, USA, Vietnam, West Indies,

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status : Status: Data Deficient

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(Haw.) Britton & Rose

Botanical References


Links / References

For a list of references used on this page please go here
A special thanks to Ken Fern for some of the information used on this page.

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