Dragon Fruit Cactus
The Most Unique-Looking Fruit You Can Grow
It has an almost otherworldly look. Dragon Fruit Cactus Trees have sprawling, fleshy "arms" that reach toward the ground, and look like serpents. The rosy pink fruits look as if they are covered in dragon scales because of the leafy appendages on the fruit. It's one of those plants that you really have to see in person so you can verify that it's real. It's something of a conversation piece in the garden but just wait till you get a Dragon Fruit on the table!
One look at the Dragon Fruit Cactus and you'll know it's no ordinary plant. It rises up from the ground in a trunk similar to a palm tree. At the top, which can be 15 to 20 feet tall, you'll find a Medusa-like head of thickened, fleshy, green limbs that act like vines.
On these arm-like branches, the flowers will first appear and later the fruits will follow. The flowers are typically white and very large. They can span up to 15 inches fully open, a sight that usually begins overnight and last for only a day. The flowers can grow to nearly a foot in length and they are sweetly fragrant. It's a decidedly tropical looking tree and a wonderfully weird garden specimen.
The tree itself is likely to become a conversation starter in your neighborhood. You'll love explaining its strange beauty to passers-by. But the real excitement begins when the fruit arrives. And that can happen several times a year if the climate is right!
Dragon fruits form at the base of the flowers, right on the branch. It often looks like an "arm" is holding a neon pink ball. Inside the vivid pink skin accented with leafy, unique "scales", the dragon fruit is milky white, pink or red (depending on the cultivar) and speckled with tiny black seeds. There's really nothing else like it in looks or flavor. The taste is something like a mix of melon and pear with a pleasant sweet and sour bite.
This plant lives exceptionally well in containers in case you don't live in zones 9 to 11 where it can be planted outdoors. It has low water needs so it's good from drier spots in the landscape but remember it's a tropical plant, not a true cactus. It is heat tolerant and can also withstand the occasional light frost. This odd plant isn't at all picky about soil conditions but it does like a little organic matter.