Pitaya, Strawberry Pear, Night Blooming Cereus
Hylocereus species F. Cactaceae
Perennial, climbing cactus with triangular fleshy stems, that can grow 1-3 metres high or more and develop many side branches. On the edges of the stems, fine spines 3mm long, form in clusters of 3-6 at 1-2cm intervals. Sweet scented flowers with waxy, white petals form like elongated cups to 15cm long, brimming with gold stamens; blooming at night.
When seen in supermarkets, the bright coloured skin of the fruit almost glows and says ‘pick me up and try’. Do be enticed by the eye catching fruit, or grow some in the garden for the potential fruit, often called the ‘gourmet’s delight’. Ripe fruit are cut in half, length wise, and the firm crisp flesh scooped out with a teaspoon. Flavour is of a mild, delicate sweetness, and very refreshing. The flesh is used in fruit salads, set in jellies, mixed with milk, added to fruit juices, sherbets, frozen into iced delicacies and made into jams. Use the fruit to create spectacular centre pieces on a dinner table.