The Pitaya or Dragon fruit
Here is an introduction to another tropical fruit you can taste when visiting Guadeloupe Archipelago: the Pitaya also known as the dragon fruit. There are 3 different types of Pitaya:
– The Hylocereus undatus which is a white flesh and red skin pitaya
– The Hylocereus polyrhizus which is a red flesh and red skin pitaya
– The Hylocereus megalanthus which is a white flesh and yellow skin pitaya
Pitaya cacti are native to Mexico but they have also been transplanted to Central America and lately they have been cultivated in East, south and southeast Asian but also in Australia, Viet Nam, Israel, Réunion Island, Guadeloupe Archipelago, Martinique and French Polynesia.
Pitaya flowers bloom overnight and usually wilt by the morning. They rely on nocturnal pollinators such as bats or moths for fertilisation. The pitaya requires five times less water than any other fruit which is really interesting in terms of growing in subtropical region such as Guadeloupe Archipelago. Indeed, the plants can handle temperatures up to 40 °C and very short periods of frost, but will not survive long exposure to freezing temperatures.
The fruit is round-shaped with about 10 centimetre height and can weigh between 200 grams to 700 grams and sometimes 1 kilogram for the bigger ones. Depending on the variety, the flesh can be white or red with small black seeds and is moderately sweet. The texture of the pitaya is like a kiwi or a melon. You can also enjoy the pitaya juice or wine.
Nutrient content and health benefits
The pitaya is low in calories but rich in vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants. However, the red flesh one is low in vitamins.
Twenty years ago, the Pitaya was unknown in some European countries. Nowadays, this tasty fruit is part of the wide range of tropical fruits on the market even though it can be quite expensive as it is not as common as guavas, mangos or other regular tropical fruits. In Guadeloupe Archipelago the fructification is from July to September.