|Yeah, the dragonfruit is awesome. |
Photo courtesy Wikipedia Commons
Last week, I pulled up an article describing a fascinating cactus plant species (Hylocereus undatus) that produces a huge, stunning flower with an incredible edible: dragonfruit! The fruit is known by many other names, including strawberry pear, pitaya and – wait for it – pitahaya.
Palm Desert has a street named Pitahaya. This piqued my interest. Was the cactus grown by the early residents of that area? Do residents still grow it? Or did early community developers just like the sound of the Spanish word? I searched online but could not find much about the reason behind the naming. Tried Palm Desert Historical Society ... I'll try again when it reopens next October. Maybe some knowledgeable resident can shed some moonlight on the subject before then? If you know, let me know!
Anyhow, now I’d been dreaming for a week about growing this amazing night-blooming cereus in my own garden. The enormous white flower opens once and has that one night to be pollinated by bats or moths in order to bear a fruit. You’d think that because it’s a cactus and we live in the desert that we could plop it down and grow it anywhere in the valley. After further research, however, I found that it's native to Central America and grows best in more tropical climates than ours (think Hawaii or Vietnam), but that doesn’t mean we could not grow it here with a little TLC and shade.
|A new, humble cereus cutting in my garden.|
I imagine some night in the future it may bloom, and I'll visit it there in the moonlight. Who knows? It may possibly bear fruit that I'll savor, remembering the first time I marveled that a thing called a dragonfruit could pop up out of such an unassuming cactus.