Hylocereus costaricensis

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Red-fleshed Pitahaya
Hylocereus costaricensis7EDWARD.jpg
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Core eudicots
Order: Caryophyllales
Family: Cactaceae
Genus: Hylocereus
Species: H. costaricensis
Binomial name
Hylocereus costaricensis
(F.A.C.Weber) Britton & Rose

Cereus trigonus var. costaricensis F.A.C.Weber
Hylocereus microcladus Backeberg
Hylocereus peruvianus Backeberg

Hylocereus costaricensis, the Costa Rican pitahaya or Costa Rica nightblooming cactus, is a cactus species native to Central America and northwestern South America. The species is grown commercially for its Pitahaya fruit, but is also an impressive ornamental vine with huge flowers. Most plants grown under the name Hylocereus polyrhizus refer to this species. The latter name is ambiguous and not used.


Named after Costa Rica where it was first discovered.[citation needed]

Origin and habitat[edit]

Guatemala to northeast Peru. Dry forest and coastal areas, 0–1400 m altitude.


Hylocereus costaricensis is closely related to Hylocereus ocamponis, but lacks the horny stems margins of the latter species.


  • Stem scandent, 1-3 (-10) cm wide, usually very thick; ribs 3 (-4), margins straight to shallowly scallop-lobed; internodes 2-3.5 x 0.1-0.2 cm; often folded, areoles on prominences, bearing dense, short wool and (1-) 3-6 (-9) short, dark spines 2–4 mm, hairs 2, often bristle-like, soon dropping; epidermis grayish green, +- glaucous in fresh material.
  • Flowers funnel-shaped, 22–30 cm long, strongly perfumed, young buds globular; cylindric-ovoid, ca 4 cm long, bracteoles narrow, foliaceous, numerous, imbricate, 1–2 cm long; receptacle stout, 10–15 cm, throat obconic, 6 cm in wide at the orifice, bracteoles foliaceous, persistent, particularly imbricating towards the base, green with purple margins; tepals 11–15 cm, the outer greenish yellow, the inner white; stigma lobes ca. 12, not forked; ovary covered with large, broadly to narrowly triangular, overlapping bracteoles, 0.5–3 cm.
  • Fruit broadly ovate to globose, bright magenta, pupla purple; seeds pear-shaped, black, ca 10mm.
Hylocereus polyrhizus fruit


An easily cultivated, fast growing epiphyte or xerophyte. Needs a compost containing plenty of humus and sufficient moisture in summer. It should not be kept under 10 °C (50 °F) in winter. Can be grown in semi-shade or full sun. Extra light in the early spring will stimulate budding. Flowers in summer or autumn.


This fruit is one of the few to have indicaxanthin, a betalain, a type of plant pigment antioxidant.

See also[edit]