Sunday, July 27, 2014

July's Cactus: Hylocereus undatus- Night-Blooming Cereus

Hylocereus undatus is one unusual cactus. It's a large, vine-like climber from Central America and the West Indies that will drape itself over practically anything. H. undatus does not grow in the desert, but in tropical forests. Its fruit is known as pitaya or the strawberry pear. Here on the dunes it prefers to drape itself all over cabbage palms. Even more spectacular than the fruit are the blooms, which are huge, larger than a man's hand. They bloom most extravagantly for one night, but you can catch them the next morning, as I did during my herbalism class, as they were growing in the courtyard. Nectar-feeding bats and honey bees just love these flowers, and I can certainly understand their point of view! H. undatus is widely cultivated all over the planet these days, and that makes me happy. It's easy to grow from stem cuttings.

Night-blooming cereus, MR, 2014
Pitaya, courtesy of Wikipedia

Hylocereus undatus, or Night-blooming Cereus, MR, 2014 


  1. You're right Marla, a most unusual, but fascinating, cactus. Great photos. Another common name is the Dragon Fruit cactus, because of the interesting looking fruit. It grows way too fast and wild for me, but I occasionally get cuttings from a friend which I root and then use as grafting stock. Another neat bat pollinated plant. Thanks for sharing. :)

    1. They grow that far north? Interesting! I like the name Dragon Fruit cactus better because the fruit is definitely mythological-looking!

  2. They are not frost hardy of course, but when used as grafting stock they are essentially 4 inch high pot plants; outside in the summer, back inside in the fall.
    I am in Southern Maryland, but it still isn't Florida! :)

  3. Fascinating! And from down here in Zone 10, S. Maryland still seems sooooo Far North! ;-)