Selenicereus undatus

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Selenicereus undatus
(Haw.) Britton & Rose

alt=Description of Than Long Green Gragon.JPG picture.
dragon fruit grown in southern Vietnam (2003)
Order Caryophyllales
Family Cactaceae
Genus Selenicereus

2n =

Origin : southern Mexico


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French {{{french}}}



Cultivated clones being often auto-incompatible, they have to be manually pollinated outside of their area of origin. Another solution is to breed interspecific hybrids.

plate XXX from Britton & Rose (1920)

Popular names

  • English: pitahaya, queen of the night, night-blooming cereus
  • French: pitahaya, pitahaya rouge, fruit du dragon ; raquette tortue (Réunion)
  • German: Pitahaya
  • Spanish: pitahaya, pitahaya roja (Colombia, México, Venezuela, Guatemala); flor de cáliz, pitajava (Puerto Rico); junco, junco tapatio, pitahaya orejona, reina de la noche, tasajo (México)
  • Portuguese: jaramacarú, cato-barse
  • Vietnamese: thanh lòng
  • Maly/Indonesian: buah naga
  • Javanese: woh naga
  • Chinese: liàng tiān chǐ, bà wáng huā, tán huā, bà wáng biān (Ricci); huǒ lóng guǒ (Wikipedia)
Popular names first referred to the flowers. They are now superseded by the name of the fruit. Pitahaya is a Spanish-American name, but the fruit tends now to be called dragon fruit or similar names, which is an Asiatic innovation. It is so called because the vine habit of the plant, which Asian people compare with a dragon (Asian dragons resemble European snakes !).
detail of a stem


Hylocereus undatus (Haw.) Britton & Rose (1918)


  • Cereus undatus Haw. (1830)

Closely related with H. escuintlensis Kimnach, H. ocamponis (Salm-Dyck) Britton & Rose and H. guatemalensis (Eichlam) Britton & Rose.


Dragonfruit plant.jpg

Geography and History

Origin, distribution area, diffusion in time and space

The species probably originates in southern Mexico (Yucatan). It has been for long introduced in many tropical areas as an ornamental, for its beautiful big flowers. Before the years 1990, the fruit was quite unknown outside it area of origin. Its spread in international markets as an exotic is recent, and due mostly to its acceptance in South-East Asia. Vietnam grows about 2000 ha (years 2012).


  • ornamental.
  • flower. Used in soup in China (Ricci).
  • fruit, fresh. Juicy, but with mild taste.


  • Bauer, R., 2003. A synopsis of the tribe Hylocereeae F. Buxb. Cactaceae Systematics Initiatives, 17: 3-63.
  • Le Bellec, Fabrice, 2011. Les pitahayas (Hylocereus spp.). jaunes, rouges... quelques clés pour mieux les connaître et les reconnaître. Fruitrop, 195 : 29-33.
  • Le Bellec, Fabrice & Vaillant, F., 2011. Pitaya, Pitahaya (Hylocereus spp.). In Yahia Elhadi M. (ed.), Postharvest Biology and Technology of Tropical and Sub-Tropical Fruits, vol. 4: Mangosteen to white sapote. Cambridge, UK, Woodhead Publishing