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Author Topic: Identifying pitaya (dragon fruit)  (Read 2739 times)

MarkoS

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Identifying pitaya (dragon fruit)
« on: May 10, 2013, 10:04:26 AM »
About two years ago after a trip to Hong Kong I became a fan of pitaya.  Soon there after I probably had "sucker" written on my face as every garden sale I went to I would buy every $2 piece of pitaya/ dragon fruit I saw.  Out of four plants, in 3 years I only saw one flower and that became a fruit.  I never got to eat it as it went bad before I realized it.  So I finally did research.  So now I have a collection of several dragon fruit cultivars and a few Peruvian Apple Cacti in my collection.  So now to my question.

This year looks to be a great year.  Several of my dragon fruits are touching the top of my fence and even hanging over.  A sign of good fruit, I'm told.  I even have several I bought in October that are now halfway up the fence.  But while cleaning up some weeds and mulch I found this oddball pitaya I picked up at some garden club sale that doesn't look like anything else I have growing.

First of the cactus is much more flexible than all the other dragon fruits in my yard.  It's a thin cactus not even an inch wide.  It also has only four ribs and they form a perfect cross.  There are no spines to speak of.  Instead it has what I would call hairs 1/4 inch long, 5 from each point where the spike would be.  It's only a foot long right now but I swear it's grown that in the last month.

I know it's hard to identify now, but what should I be looking for to identify what it is?  Is it the fruit that really defines it or the flower?  Is there something else?


Fruitguy

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Re: Identifying pitaya (dragon fruit)
« Reply #1 on: May 10, 2013, 12:55:19 PM »
Hi MarkoS,

First let me mention that since Hylocereus sp. hybridize so easily, you may never get an exact identification as to which species you have.   Authors of books and scholarly articles cannot even agree on the number of species in the genus, which some sources indicating as few as 14 and others listing 25 or more.  Having said that, below are some of the characteristics used:

A common error is to identify the species by fruit flesh color, ie. all white-fleshed fruit are H. undatus, all magenta-fleshed species are H. polyrhizus.  None of the original descriptions include flesh color.  So what are some of the identifying characteristics?  As you allude to, flower characteristics are commonly used, including flower color; length of the flower; size and distance relationship between the stigma and the anthers, color of the stigma, etc.  Stem characteristics are also utilized, including stem color (many are bright green and others have a bluish tint); distance between areoli, the shape of the area between two areoli; the number of spines on each areola (usually 0-8), etc.  This is by no means an exhaustive list; there are many more but I don't bore everyone most than I already have.

As to the four-sided stem, this is often seen on immature seedlings.  Eventually as the plant matures, the new growth switches to the three-sided stem.  Incidentally 5-sided stem formations have been reported, and occassionally poly-sided growth occurs.

MarkoS

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Re: Identifying pitaya (dragon fruit)
« Reply #2 on: May 10, 2013, 02:27:14 PM »
Thanks.  This was a cutting that I think almost died off.  So your point about young seedlings is probably what is happening here.

And thanks for the identification advice.  Looks like I'll be out there when they finally flower to take several measurements.  If the neighbor's didn't think I was crazy, they will now.

fyliu

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Re: Identifying pitaya (dragon fruit)
« Reply #3 on: May 10, 2013, 06:15:20 PM »
It's reverted to an immature state as said above. Some varieties do spend more time as 4 ribbed or 2 ribbed than others. I think it has to do with mixed genes from other species.

Kay

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Re: Identifying pitaya (dragon fruit)
« Reply #4 on: May 11, 2013, 07:25:53 AM »
ribs i dont think is genetic, more environmental.  they can even form almost cylindrical growth.

And as said, immature growth, no ID is going to happen :(

 

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