In order to taste one or another exotic fruit today, you do not need to go to a distant overseas country. On the shelves of our stores, supermarkets, vegetable shops, they are presented in the widest assortment: bananas, pineapples, mangoes, passion fruit, kumquats and so on. Fanciful, sometimes difficult to pronounce names, unusual taste, original appearance encourage our compatriots to buy overseas curiosities. One such marvelous fruit that has recently appeared on the Russian market is pitahaya.

Useful properties of pitahaya

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The first mention of these fruits dates back to the 13th century. The Aztecs, who lived in South America, used both the pulp of the fruit and its seeds, which were ground and added to soups during cooking. Europeans learned of its existence from Cieza de León's Chronicle of Peru, published in 1553.

Currently, pitahaya plantations can be found not only in South and Central America, but also in the Hawaiian and Philippine Islands, Vietnam, Thailand, Japan, Israel, Armenia, and Australia. This fruit, which looks like a large raspberry cone, has other names;

  • dragon fruit (dragon fruit);
  • dragon heart (dragon pearl)
  • pitahaya;
  • prickly (strawberry) pear (prickly pear).

The juicy pulp of the fruit (when chilled) is very refreshing. It has a slightly sweet taste and due to the high content of nutrients (vitamins B, as well as A and C, proteins, dietary fiber, niacin, iron, calcium, phosphorus and other trace elements) has a lot of advantages:

  • quickly quenches thirst;
  • slows down the aging process;
  • lowers cholesterol and blood sugar levels;
  • stimulates the brain;
  • improves mood;
  • improves the quality of vision;
  • effectively lowers blood pressure;
  • removes toxins and toxins from the body;
  • has an anti-inflammatory effect;
  • improves the functioning of the gastrointestinal tract, eliminates intestinal disorders, constipation;
  • improves the functioning of the cardiovascular system;
  • has an antioxidant effect;
  • prevents the occurrence of complications in diabetes mellitus;
  • strengthens the immune system, improves the general condition of the body.

Low calorie content makes it possible to use it for weight loss. These and other properties of pitaya are confirmed by data obtained by scientists who have studied the fruit in the laboratory. Eating large amounts of red-fleshed dragon fruit can cause urine to turn red. This effect, which is completely harmless to the body, is called pseudohematuria.

Description

One of the most surprising facts about pitahaya for Europeans is that it is the fruit of several species of bushy vine-like tree cactibelonging to the genera Hylocereus and Stenocereus. Plants have elongated lanceolate leaves, on the edges of which, at a distance of 3-5 cm from one another, there are small but very sharp spines. Shoots are usually falling, in some varieties - curly. Under natural conditions, the height of the bush can reach 10 m.

Pattaya cannot be singled out for one specific flowering period. Large flowers up to 17 cm in diameter may appear at the ends of the leaves several (5-6) times during the year. They have white petals and open only at night, exuding a strong pleasant aroma.

30-50 days after flowering, small bumps form on the stems. You can eat them within a month. By this time, the fruits reach a weight of 150-600 gr. Some specimens can weigh up to 1 kg. On individual Vietnamese farms, about 30 tons of fruits are harvested from 1 hectare during the year.

The fruits have a slightly elongated shape about 20 cm long, a smooth dense peel, covered with small oval scales with bright green tips resembling dragon scales. The peel is easily separated from the fleshy pulp containing a large number of small seeds. In appearance, size, they are similar to poppies and do not interfere with eating tasty and juicy fruits that have a pleasant, delicate aroma. But they are generally not digested by the body.

Pitaya is divided into several types, differing in the color of the peel and pulp of the fruit. The most common are 3 varieties:

  • red - somewhat bland in taste, has a red skin and white flesh;
  • Costa Rican - it has red not only peel, but also flesh;
  • yellow - it is distinguished by the sweet taste of fragrant white flesh and the yellow color of the peel.

In Mexico, pitahaya is not only eaten, but also used as decoration.

Growing features

In its natural environment, pitahaya grows in a dry tropical climate, but unlike other "inhabitants" of this region, it develops well even with insufficient sunlight. However, if you want to get a fruit crop from your plantings, then he still needs light. So in Vietnam, where pitahaya is an industrial crop, additional lighting is organized in the areas allocated for its cultivation at night.

In the southern regions of our country, gardeners can try to grow an exotic plant in the open field, but in the middle lane it can only be cultivated indoors as a pot crop. To do this, you need to take a very voluminous pot, because a plant that has reached the age of fruiting, usually this happens at 5-7 years of age, will weigh more than 4 kg. For the summer, flower pots with pitaya can be taken out into the street, into the garden, used to decorate the backyard.

Reproduction features

The main way to get pitaya seedlings is to plant seeds in the ground. For sowing, use fresh, freshly harvested planting material. Previously harvested seeds can also germinate, but their germination is much lower. Seeds are obtained only from ripe fruits. The procedure is quite simple and does not require significant physical effort:

  • cut the fruit in half with a sharp knife;
  • carefully remove the pulp from it with an ordinary tablespoon, place it in a container and fill it with water;
  • after a while (20-30 minutes), strain the mixture through a fine sieve, carefully separating the seeds from the pulp;
  • slightly dry the resulting seed and plant it in prepared pots or containers for germination, filling it with a small layer of drainage, and then soil for succulents;
  • deepen the seeds no more than 1 cm, pour and cover the pot on top with glass or plastic wrap to create greenhouse conditions.

In about a week, the first shoots will appear, and after a month, when thorns begin to form on the “leaves”, the seedlings can be picked out in separate containers filled with the same soil for succulents, to which you can add peat, organic fertilizers. The soil must be moistened in a timely manner.

Pitahia can also be grown by cuttings, but in this case, an adult plant may suffer, from which the shoots will be cut.

Plant care

A young pitahaya plant is a trihedral stem, on the edges of which there are small rosettes of thin needles. The procedure for caring for a plant is not difficult. The main thing is timely moderate watering. The top layer of soil to a depth of 1 cm should be constantly wet. At the same time, excessive moisture can lead to the development of fungal diseases of the root system.

Intensive growth can cause an untidy appearance of the plant. Weak stems spread along the surface on which the pot stands, occupying a large area. To give the plant a more aesthetic appearance, it is tied to a bamboo stick stuck in a pot, a decorative ladder, or another device is used, a support that effectively supports the shoots.

For the winter, it is better to remove the pitaya in a dark, cool room. The plant can tolerate temperatures as low as 0°C. The number of waterings should be reduced, as excessive moisture can lead to the development of a fungal disease.

Pollination

Pitahaya is a cross-pollinated plant, so you need to have two or more plants to get fruit. Under natural conditions, insects carry pollen from flower to flower. When growing pitaya in a room, pollination will have to be carried out independently. Take a brush (cotton swab), carefully, without pressing hard, run the tip along the stamens, collecting pollen from them. Then, without shaking off the brush, run it inside another flower and so on, pollinating all the opened flowers with it. The more flowers involved in the procedure, the higher the likelihood of fruit formation.

Top dressing

Since young plants grow very quickly (up to 1 m in the first year of life), then top dressing should be applied under the culture more often than under other succulents. You need to choose mineral fertilizers intended for cacti. Top dressing, at the rate of 3-4 g of the mixture per 1 liter of water, must be alternated with regular watering. Over time, the intensity of watering can be reduced.

Parasites and diseases

The greatest harm to pitahaya plants is caused by excessively frequent and abundant watering, and when planted in open ground (taken out into the street) - natural precipitation, which can lead to the development of fungal diseases. The fungus Dothiorella causes brown spots on fruits. And the bacteria Xanthomonas campestris - to rotting of the stem. Birds that peck at unripe fruits also cause great harm to the crop.

The use of pitahaya

Most often, pitaya, especially yellow, which has a richer taste and aroma, are eaten raw, fresh, after cooling a little. To do this, the fruit is cut into small slices, like a melon or, cut in half and the pulp is taken with a spoon. With a little practice, you can get the hang of peeling the fruit, for which it is cut to the pulp around the circumference and shifted down.

Red fruits are fresher, so they are usually used as one of the ingredients of fruit salads and cocktails, added to yoghurts, sherbet, ice cream, jams, marmalade, sauces are made from them. In some countries, pitahaya flowers are dried and used to make tea.

The peel of the fruit is used in the cosmetic industry in the production of creams, face and body masks, shower gels, soaps, shampoos.

Contraindications for use

When you first get acquainted with such an unusual fruit, learn that he is a “guest” from a distant exotic country, therefore, it can lead to completely unpredictable consequences, the emergence of various unpleasant problems: an allergic reaction, heartburn, flatulence, and so on. Therefore, you need to start with a small amount, after which, after waiting 10-15 minutes and not feeling any unpleasant symptoms, you can continue the meal.

Do not give fruit to children under 10 years of age. Pregnant and lactating women should also refrain from eating it. In any case, you should not eat more than 4-5 fruits per day.

Another area of ​​​​use of pitahaya is ornamental gardening. The plant covered with ripe fruits looks very impressive. It will be a wonderful decoration for any backyard, winter garden, greenhouse.


Things to know (Q&A)

What are exotic fruits?

9 Exotic Fruits That Look Like They're From Another Planet

  • Durian. Origin: Southeast Asia. ...
  • Carambola. Origin: Southeast Asia. ...
  • Akebi. Origin: Japan. ...
  • Rambutan. Origin: Malaysia. ...
  • Buddha's Hand. Origin: India and China. ...
  • Salak. Origin: Indonesia. ...
  • Pandanus. Origin: Pacific Islands. ...
  • Jackfruit. Origin: India.

What do Pitayas grow on?

Dragon Fruit Cactus

A Dragon Fruit Cactus

The Hylocereus is a vine-y cactus native to Central and South America, but is now cultivated extensively throughout Southeast Asia for sweet, bright pink pitaya, commonly referred to as dragon fruit.

Why are Pitayas called dragon fruit?

Dragon fruit was named after its appearance—which is somewhat similar to an artichoke—the pointy "scales" around the oval-shaped fruit are reminiscent of a dragon . The fruit comes in four varieties; three are pink-skinned, one with white flesh, one with red flesh, and the third with purple flesh.

Is Mango an exotic fruit?

The short answer is that they are any fruit that grows in the regions between the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn , though many varieties have adapted to sub-tropical regions as well. We are going to focus on the big four in this Produce 101: Tropical Fruit–and they are mangos, papayas, and pineapples, and plantai

Is banana an exotic fruit?

You might not consider it an exotic fruit since everyone is familiar with the banana, but as an exotic fruit tree, the banana comes in many varieties. And did you know that they can be grown in mainland USA? The bananas in the above image may look like plantains but they are genuine bananas, sweet and deliciou

Is kiwi exotic fruit?

Known as one of the most exotic fruits of all time The Kiwi (Actinidia deliciosa), is native to a large area of ​​China, especially the forests of the Yangtze River Valley. Introduced to New Zealand in 1904, it has since been cultivated in many temperate regions for its edible frui

What is the best exotic fruit?

Best tropical fruits (& other exotic fruit)

  • Mangosteen. ...
  • Durian fruit. ...
  • Passion Fruit/Granadilla. ...
  • Rambutan. ...
  • Lychee fruit. ...
  • Pineberries (white strawberries or hula berries) ...
  • Jackfruit. ...
  • Snake fruit (salak)

What can I do with yellow Pitahaya?

You can either peel the flesh away from the skin and enjoy the flesh as is or cut it in half and then scoop the flesh out . You can also scoop it out with a spoon and then chop it up as desired. Yellow dragon fruit is easy to peel away from the skin.

Can you eat pitahaya raw?

Dragon fruit is best eaten raw , but you can throw it on the grill like some other fruits. Enjoy it on its own or add it to: Cocktails.

How do you serve pitahaya?

How to Eat It

  1. Select a ripe fruit with bright red, evenly colored skin that gives slightly when squeezed.
  2. Use a sharp knife and cut straight through the fruit, slicing it in half.
  3. You can use a spoon to eat the fruit out of the skin or peel the skin off and slice the pulp into small pieces.

Where does dragon fruit mostly grow?

Pitahaya or dragon fruit is native to southern Mexico and Central America . The dragon fruit is cultivated in East Asia, South Asia, Southeast Asia, the United States, the Caribbean, Australia, and throughout tropical and subtropical regions of the world.

Can dragon fruit be grown in pots?

You can use plastic, clay or even terracotta pots for the dragon fruit . While the ideal size is mentioned, using a bigger pot will only be beneficial as it will give the roots more space. Try to make sure that your dragon fruit plant gets close to 8 hours of good sunlight each day.

Where does yellow dragon fruit grow?

Yellow dragon fruit is grown in Ecuador and Colombia .

Why do they call it a dragon fruit?

The name 'dragon fruit' is derived from its unique appearance, where the spikes resemble fire and the scales resemble that of a dragon , as depicted in Chinese mytholog

Is pitaya same as dragon fruit?

In Israel, where the fruit is commercially grown and being imported into the U.S., the growers like to call it “pitaya” or “pitahaya,” while the Vietnamese growers label theirs “dragon fruit.” So, whether you see them called pitaya, pitahaya, or dragon fruit, they are all basically the same fruit

Is soursop dragon fruit?

Lucia and infused with 100% fresh wildcrafted exotic Dragon fruit, also known as pitaya and Soursop fruit . This great tasting Sea moss + Golden Dragonfruit + Soursop fruit provides a synergistic effect due to the extra minerals, nutrients and abundance of vitamin C, potassium and magnesium found in Dragon Fruit.

What is dragon fruit actually called?

pitahaya

A pitaya (/pɪˈtaɪ. ə/) or pitahaya (/ˌpɪtəˈhaɪ. ə/) is the fruit of several different cactus species indigenous to the Americas. Pitaya usually refers to fruit of the genus Stenocereus, while pitahaya or dragon fruit refers to fruit of the genus Selenicereus (formerly Hylocereus), both in the family Cactaceae.

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