Climbing cactus vine.
20 years or more.
No leaves. Evergreen stems.
Up to 20' long.
Large, white, bell-shaped, sweet fragrance, lasting only one night. Unpollinated flowers
may sometimes stay open the next morning for pollination by bees. The flowers produce no nectar.
At night, mid spring to mid-fall, or as long as temperatures stay above 80°F,
3-6 times a year.
Some species and varieties will self-pollinate and others do better with a second plant
for pollination. Hand pollination will improve fruit set on some species. Hylocereus plants however,
need to be pollinated within their genus or ripening will be delayed and fruit size and sugar content
will be reduced.
Years before fruiting:
After a stem segment is planted, 6 months to one year. From seed,
the plant can take up to 7 years to flower.
Oval to egg-shaped, one-half to 3 pounds, skin is red or yellow with prominent,
usually green, wings, easy to peel. Edible flesh is white, pink, red or purple, juicy, with tiny,
edible black seeds dotted throughout, and a slightly sweet taste. Red-fleshed fruit is often considered
to be the best tasting. One plant may produce up to 220 pounds of fruit after 4-5 years.
Months for fruit to ripen:
45-50 days. A fruit is ripe when its skin is fully colored, the wings fold
outward, and two twists can remove it from the stem. A fruit is over-ripe when it falls from the stem.
Storage after harvest:
Unwashed fruit can be refrigerated up to five days.
Green, segmented, with 3-5 fins extending along the entire length of the segment, wavy edges
present on the fins of some species, and each segment can have several small spines along its edges or be
spineless. Several branches can grow from each segment joint.
Arial roots, which attach the vine to a vertical surface, grow from each stem segment.
Species of Note:
Hylocereus undatus - fruit with red skin, white flesh.
Hylocereus costaricenes - red skin, purple-red flesh.
Hylocereus lemairei (synonym H. polyrhizus) - red skin, red flesh.
Hylocereus trigonus - yellow skin, white flesh.
Selenicereus (synonym Hylocereus) megalanthus - yellow skin, white flesh.
Attracts bats, moths and bees for pollination.
Toxic / Danger:
Possible spiny stem edges.
Mexico, Central America and northern South America, in lowland, tropical, deciduous
forests. Often found climbing trees in its native environment. These species have probably been
cultivated more than 1000 years.