The dragon fruit plant is not only stunningly beautiful, but it’s also delicious and nutritious.

It’s exotic looking with bright purple, yellow, magenta, or red-skinned fruit that is pear-shaped and sports impressive green scales.

It is a climbing plant, creeping up trees, roots, fences, or walls seeking sunlight.

It’s a succulent plant, meaning its stems are filled with juice or sap, storing water and nutrients.

The fleshy, triangular stems can grow to be over 5 feet long and have areolas, or small bumps, where spines can grow.

Not all succulents are cacti, so is a dragon fruit one?

Is A Dragon Fruit A Cactus?

Yes, a dragon fruit plant is a cactus, a member of the botanical family Cactaceae.

A cactus has flowering plants, thick and juicy stems, and branches with spines or scales.

A dragon fruit plant has some similarities with other plants in the cactus family and also some differences.

But nonetheless, it is a cactus.

What Exactly Is A Cactus?

To better understand why a dragon fruit is considered a cactus, it’s important to understand the general characteristics of cacti.

A cactus is a flowering plant in the Cactaceae botanical family. 

These plants are succulents that store up water reserves and nutrients in their thick and juicy stems.

Having a built-in reservoir makes cactus plants resilient by sustaining them during harsh conditions. 

Cactus plants have fleshy green stems, and instead of leaves, they have scales or spines.

Unlike leaves on other plants, the scales and spines on cactus plants will not lose water through evaporation. 

Another characteristic of a cactus plant is the presence of areoles, sometimes described as bumps, cushions, or pit-like formations on their stems’ surface.

Spines can grow from the areoles and help protect the plant from animals and the brutal heat of full sun exposure by providing shade.

While it’s true that cacti can grow in scorching and dry areas, like deserts, they are surprisingly adaptable to other types of environments too.

If their nutritional needs are being met, plants in the cactus family will usually survive and even thrive.

Why Is A Dragon Fruit Classed As Cactus?

A dragon fruit plant

There are almost 2,000 species and about 139 genera in the Cactaceae, or cactus famil

With so much variety, it makes sense that many cactus plants will have lots of similar characteristics, but others will differ significantly.

Like other plants in the cactus family, the dragon fruit plant is a succulent, storing up water and nutrient reserves in their long, triangular, fleshy stems.

They are flowering plants that bloom at night and have large, dramatic, trumpet-shaped flowers.
Just like their cousins in the cactus family, dragon fruit plants don’t do well if they are overwatered.

Related Article: Is A Cactus A Tree?

How Is The Dragon Fruit Plant Different From The Traditional Cactus?

Unlike most cactus plants you may be familiar with that thrive in the desert, dragon fruit plants originate from Central and South America and thrive in humid, mild environments.

Cacti flower, but the flowers from different types of cactus plants vary in how long they last.

Some cacti keep their flowers for several weeks, but others, like the dragon fruit plants, bloom for a very short window of time, usually just one night every year.

After the flowers die, the formation of the fruit begins.

What Does Dragon Fruit Taste Like?

While some cactus plants, like the cactus pear plant, bear crunchy seeds, the seeds from a dragon fruit plant are soft and sweet.

The texture can be compared to a kiwi, with creamy, fleshy pulp containing numerous tiny black seeds.

Some describe the taste as sweet and tropical, like a cross between a pear or watermelon and a kiwi. 

The fruit is nutritionally rich.

It’s high in fiber, minerals, and vitamins and low in calories. 

Dragon fruit plants look different from many cacti varieties because instead of thousands of thin, sharp spines covering the stems, dragon fruit plants have scales, or thorns, on the fruit.

Final Thoughts

The dragon fruit plant is a cactus, with some things in common and other things quite different from other plants in the cactus family. 

It has a dramatically beautiful appearance with large, bright flowers and bold oval-shaped fruit.

It grows best in the sub-tropical environments typical of Central and South America.

The fruit is sweet and delicious.  While it might not look like your every day, run of the mill cactus, this succulent is an amazing, fascinating, and unique member of the cactus family.