Written by Don Richardson 
Dragon Fruit, Red (Hylocereus costaricensis)  
Plant Type
Perennial Succulent
15-20’ tall, 1’ wide
Sun Exposure
Full sun - part shade
Soil Type
Mostly sand
Soil pH
6.1-7.5 slightly acidic - Neutral
Bloom Time
Spring - Fall
Hardiness Zones
10-11   Food Forest Plant
Moist–slightly dry well drained
40°F – 125°F(in part shade) 
Needs a pollinator
Edible Plant
Medicinal Plant

Any reference to medicinal or culinary use of plants or plant parts should in no way be considered an endorsement by The Ocala Food Forest or its staff. Research is crucial in safe and proper consumption or experimentational use of any plant.

Have you ever seen a dragon fruit plant? Also known as the Hylocereus costaricensis, this unique and beloved plant is native to Central America. It has been grown for centuries in Mexico, Guatemala, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica. Its beautiful pinkish-purple flowers and bright yellow-green fruits have made it popular among gardeners and chefs alike. Let’s take a closer look at the dragon fruit plant!
Appearance and Taste 
The dragon fruit plant is a cactus that grows on trellises or other structures. It has thick, paddle-like leaves with sharp spines along their edges. The stems can reach up to 20 feet long, with mature plants producing large pinkish-purple flowers that open at night and close during the day. After pollination takes place, these flowers transform into dragon fruits which range in size from two to five inches in length. Dragon fruits come in many varieties that will be different in color. The most common are pink-green on the outside with red pulp inside. They also contain small black edible seeds similar to those found in kiwi fruits. The taste has been described as both tart and sweet with notes of pineapple or kiwi. Again this can be slightly different depending on the variety. Here are a few of the most common.
White pitaya (Hylocereus undatus) has white flesh and pink-red skin. This species includes the Vietnam White, which is the kind you’ll most likely find at the grocery store.
Red pitaya (Hylocereus costaricensis) has the same pink-red skin, but the interior is pinkish-red as well. The coloring ranges from the dark red, dense flesh of the Physical Graffiti variety to the hot pink hue of the red La Verne.
Yellow pitaya (Hylocereus megalanthus) stands out from the others with its bright yellow skin. It has white flesh that, in the Ecuador Palora, is so sweet that it tastes like sugar cubes or honey.
Cultivation of the Hylocereus Costaricensis 
In its native Central American habitat, the dragon fruit plant grows wild on trees and shrubs. However, it can also be cultivated in warmer climates such as Mexico or Florida. Dragon fruits also require full sun exposure for optimal growth so they should be planted in an area where they will get plenty of direct sunlight during the day. It should also be kept away from frosty temperatures since this could damage its delicate stems and leaves. They prefer soil with good drainage but need regular watering so that their roots are always moist; however, they should not be overwatered as this can lead to root rot or fungus growth on the stems or leaves of the plant. Additionally, it may need support if its stems become too heavy due to the weight of its fruits.
Uses of Dragon Fruits 
Dragon fruits are often eaten fresh but they can also be used in recipes such as smoothies or desserts like ice cream or sorbet. Their mild flavor makes them very versatile in terms of ingredients they can be paired with like tropical fruits like mangoes or pineapples for added sweetness or tart flavors like lime juice for contrast. Additionally, their bright colors make them great for garnishing dishes or decorating platters for special occasions!
Health Benefits 
Dragon fruit is a great source of dietary fiber, antioxidants, Vitamin C, magnesium, phosphorus, calcium, iron, zinc and other important nutrients. These nutrients help reduce inflammation in the body while also providing essential vitamins and minerals necessary for healthy cells and organs. Additionally, dragon fruit has been found to have anti-aging effects due to its high levels of antioxidants that fight off free radicals that cause cell damage over time. Furthermore, consuming dragon fruit can help lower cholesterol levels due to its high fiber content which helps remove toxins from the body naturally.
 The Hylocereus costaricensis—or dragon fruit plant—is an exotic specimen native to Central America that has been grown commercially for centuries due to its unique beauty and delicious taste! These dragon fruits can then be enjoyed fresh or used in recipes such as smoothies or desserts like ice cream or sorbet! If you’d like to grow your own Hylocereus costaricensis at home, remember to provide it with plenty of direct sunlight and water during dry periods while keeping it away from frosty temperatures so that it thrives!


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