Dragon Fruit are native to Central and South America, where they are known as pitaya or pitahaya. They are one of the most widely distributed members of the cactaceae family, and are now found on six continents. There are three species of dragon fruit in the genus Hylocereus and one species in the genus Selenicereus. Varieties of Hylocereus guatemalensis, Hylocereus polyrhizus, and Hylocereus undatus as well as hybrids of these three species are grown commercially worldwide. Selenicereus megalanthus is grown commercially on smaller scales in South America and is especially popular in Colombia.
The dragon fruit flesh can be white, red or magenta, all to varying degrees, dependant upon variety. The red-fleshed varieties contain lycopene, a natural antioxidant known to fight cancer and heart disease, and lower blood pressure. Despite the health benefits and its spectacular appearance, the fruit has gone virtually unnoticed for centuries. Today it is the leading fruit export of Vietnam. It has even caught the attention of Snapple, Tropicana, and Sobe which are just a few of the major labels that have incorporated dragon fruit into their bottled fruit drinks.
The sensation surrounding this fabulous fruit can be attributed to a legend created by ingenious Asian marketers. According to the legend, the fruit was created thousands of years ago by fire breathing dragons. During a battle, when the dragon breathes fire, the last thing to come out of its nostrils is the fruit. After the dragon is slain, the fruit is collected and presented to the Emperor as a coveted treasure and indication of victory. The soldiers would then butcher the dragon and eat the flesh. It was believed that those who feasted on the flesh would be endowed with the strength and ferocity of the dragon, and that they, too, would be coveted by the Emperor.
It is written that the dragon’s flame originates deep within its body, near the base of its tail. The meat from this part of the dragon was the most desirable and sought-after portion. Only the officers of each division would be privy to this cut of meat. The ancient Chinese called this cut the “jaina,” which translates literally to “the sweetest and best tasting.” The jaina was treasured by all who were privileged enough to taste it, and it is believed that man’s thirst for the jaina is what led to the destruction and eventual extinction of all of the dragons.
Bees are seen here working the flowers in the early morning. The night blooming flowers can remain open until noon on a cloudy day, but are typically collapsed by nine.
We employ a Vietnamese style of trellising. The posts are two feet in the ground, six feet above, and have field fence laced to rebar for a superstructure. The posts are wrapped with burlap to hold liquid soluble fertilizers for the epiphytic roots.
This six month old American Beauty has latched onto a column on the balcony of Sy Baskin’s twenty-sixth floor Brickel Avenue condominium over looking Biscayne Bay. Sy is an accomplished grower of container fruit trees, and he is also the owner of an accomplished thoroughbred named Ocean Drive.
Dragon fruit are getting attention from a broad spectrum of major bottlers.
• Four cups of top shelf Vodka
• Two tablespoons of sugar
• One half Zamorano or Red Jaina dragon fruit
• Garnish with V. Jaina for contrast.