I recently discovered how the Dragon Fruit (called pitaya in Nicaragua) got it’s name.
Pitayas are bright crimson red, shaped a bit like an artichoke. They peel away from their thick succulent rind very easily, and the fruit inside is pleasantly sweet and filled with little tiny black seeds. The texture reminds me of a kiwi. The juice will stain your hands and clothes and if you eat too much of the fruit you will get the runs and it will look like it does when you eat too many beets.
Nicaraguans use the fruit for a juice, blending the flesh and then straining the seeds out (or not) and mixing it with lime juice, sugar, and water. It’s one of my favorite drinks.
Dragon fruit grow on a climbing cactus plant. The seeds are often spread in bird droppings, and new plants will sprout in the branches of trees in the wild. In one corner of Nick’s land there is a massive old pitaya plant climbing in a tiguilote tree. They only fruit around June-August, and you won’t find them anywhere off season. They get a pretty penny in the local markets, up to 40 cordoba ($2) for a large ripe unblemished fruit.
The largest plantations of cultivated Pitaya I’ve seen are in the Masaya region; near León they are mostly patio fruit and not cultivated in large scale. That often means that they have very few applications, if any, and so are most likely organic in the local markets. I’ve most often seen them grown in jicaro, jocote, and citrus trees.
But you are still wondering about the name. Check out these roaring Dragon Fruit flowers!!