A pitaya or pitahaya is the fruit of several different cactus species indigenous to the Americas. Pitaya usually refers to fruit of the genus Stenocereus, while pitahaya or dragon fruit refers to fruit of the genus Hylocereus, both in the family Cactaceae. Dragon fruit is cultivated in Southeast Asia, India, United States, the Caribbean, Australia, Mesoamerica and throughout tropical and subtropical world regions.
These fruits are commonly known in English as “dragon fruit”, a name used since around 1963, apparently resulting from the leather-like skin and prominent scaly spikes on the fruit exterior. The names pitahaya and pitaya derive from Mexico, and pitaya roja in Central America and northern South America, possibly relating to pitahaya for names of tall cacti species with flowering fruit. The fruit may also be known as a strawberry pear.
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