Red-fleshed pitahaya (Selenicereus costaricensis)

Red-fleshed pitahaya (Selenicereus costaricensis) dragon fruit tree

Selenicereus costaricensis (also called Hylocereus costaricensis / costaricenes, Cereus costaricensis, Cereus trigonus var. costaricensis, Hylocereus microcladus) is a type of dragonfruit cactus that grows in Costa Rica, Panama, and Nicaragua. It is also called the Costa Rican pitahaya or the Costa Rica nightblooming cactus. The species is grown commercially for its fruit, which is called pitaya or dragon fruit. It is also a beautiful vine with huge flowers that can be used as an ornament. It is possible that the species is the same as Selenicereus monacanthus.


Hylocereus costaricensis is an interesting cactus for a number of reasons. Even though it lives on the ground, its thin, leafless stems flop and climb like a vine using tree trunks, rocks, or walls for support. It is known for its large, white flowers that only bloom at night and don’t last long.

The white flowers, up to 30 cm long with a pink base, appear along the shoots, opening at night and emitting an intense fragrance. From the flowers develop up to 10 cm long, edible, egg-shaped, scarlet to pink, tasty fruits with red flesh. The leathery, fleshy stems have three ribs, and each rib is topped with a small cluster of short spines. Since there are no leaves, photosynthesis takes place in the green stems.

Anna Gorelova
Anna Gorelova
This plant grows more like a tropical vine, and we've seen it climbing up rocks and buildings. From late spring to fall, large, white flowers that look like bells and are 10 to 12 inches long bloom at dusk and only last one night. From these flowers come large oval-shaped fruits that can weigh up to a pound and have a tough pink skin with overlapping scales. Inside, the dark purplish magenta-pink flesh has many tiny edible seeds.

In the summer, the stems grow large flower buds. Each one opens at night and stays open for a few hours, letting out a scent to attract bats that help pollinate the flowers. The pale yellow-green leaves of the bud fold back so that they look like petals around the white petals. A few weeks later, oval, bright red fruits that you can eat come out. They are called pitaya, pitahaya or strawberry pear and have purple pupa and tiny black seeds.

Some sources say that Hylocereus costaricensis is the same as Hylocereus polyrhizus. However, other sources say that H. polyrhizus is the same as Selenicereus monacanthus. The relationship between S. costaricensis and S. monacanthus needs more research, especially to find out if they are different species.

Information about habits and culture

The cactus grows in the rainforest of Costa Rica. It is a succulent that can be found near water. The cactus has a tall, cylindrical stem that is green and has spines. The flowers are pink and the fruit is red. The cactus grows best in partial to full sun.

The plant can be spread by wind, water, and animals. The plant grows in a variety of climates and soil types.

FamilyCactaceae (Cactus)
OriginCentral America (North America)
Flower ColorWhite, white-cream, white-yellowish
Fragrant Flowers Yes
SynonymsH. polyrhizus, Hylocereus costaricenes, Cereus costaricensis, Cereus trigonus
HeightClimbing (Vine)
ExposureSun or shade: full sun to semi-shade
Irrigation (H2O Info)Medium Water Needs
Winter Hardiness30-32° F, 1-2 °C
Hibernatemind. 10-15°C
To use as:Pot garden, winter garden, indoor culture
Pre-treatment: No
Time to plant: All year long
Germination temperature: 25-28°C
Germination time: 2-4 weeks
Irrigation: During the growing season, water your plants regularly
Overwintering:Older plants grow best at about 10 to 15°C and just enough water so that the root ball doesn't dry out

Stem erect, 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 falling off; epidermis grayish green.Flowers are funnel-shaped and 22–30 cm long.

They have a strong scent and young buds are round. Bracteoles are narrow, foliaceous, numerous, imbricate, and 1–2 cm long. The receptacle is thick, 10–15 cm, and the throat is obconic and 6 cm wide at the opening.
The fruit is broad-ovate to globose and bright magenta. The pupa is purple, and the seeds are pear-shaped and about 10 mm long.

The fruit tastes good and is good for you because it has a lot of antioxidants, fiber, and vitamin C. Ripe fruit can be put in the fridge, peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces, and served as a dessert or added to smoothies or salads.

This type of Dragon Fruit plant is known for having some of the biggest stems. They are very big and have medium-sized spines. They grow on three sides. The flower buds come out with red lines around their edges. The 15-inch night-blooming flowers need help to set fruit because this variety is not self-fertile.

When the fruit is ready, it weighs near 1 pound and has red flesh. This flesh is firm and tastes like a kiwi in a way. The fruit is perfectly round, and the red skin fades into green fins that stick out from the fruit and curl down.

Indicaxanthin is a type of betaxanthin, which is an antioxidant plant pigment. It is found in this fruit.

Where it lives

The species is native to Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Panama, and Peru,[11] but its natural range is hard to figure out because it has been grown in so many places. It lives in dry or deciduous coastal forests 0–1,400 m (0–4,600 ft) above sea level.

From USDA hardiness zones 10a to 11b, the temperature range is from 30°F (-1.1°C) to 50°F (+10°C).


Selenicereus costaricensis – a fast-growing epiphyte or xerophyte that is easy to grow. Needs a compost with a lot of humus and enough water in the summer. In the winter, it shouldn’t be kept below 10 °C (50 °F). Can grow in either full sun or half shade. Extra light in early spring will make plants grow leaves. Flowers bloom in the summer or fall.

How to Grow and Look After

Cereus are easy to care for and hardy, just like most cacti. For the best results, make sure they get enough water without getting soggy, especially in the summer, and feed them. The cactus could have root rot if the roots have turned black or are too soft. Cut off the damaged parts and plant them again. Most gardeners who are interested in cacti should not have much trouble growing these.

If your Cereus grows too big for its pot, you may need to repot it. If so, make sure the soil is dry before taking the pot away. Take out the old soil and cut away any rotting or dead roots. Put the plant in a new pot and add new soil to the back. Make sure you don’t overwater cacti in new pots, because that can cause the roots to rot. Let it dry out for about a week, and then give it a little water.

Cuttings of these cacti grow into new plants easily. Just cut off a branch and replant it in soil that is moist but has good drainage.

Selenicereus costaricensis

Another uses

This cactus has been used for traditional medicine by the indigenous people of Costa Rica for centuries. Hylocereus costaricensis is used to treat a variety of ailments, including fever, chest congestion, and pain. The cactus is also used as a natural remedy for diarrhea and indigestion. The flower of the cactus produces nectar that attracts pollinators, including bees, butterflies, hummingbirds, and birds. The flowers are white to yellow in color and have three petals.


In conclusion, red-fleshed dragon fruit (Selenicereus costaricensis) is a beautiful and exotic cactus that can be grown in a garden or container. It is easy to care for and thrives in warm, sunny environments. With its striking red flowers, this cactus makes an excellent addition to any garden or landscape.


Is hylocereus edible?
Dragon Fruit, or Hylocereus undatus, is a climbing cactus or succulent shrub with triangular stalks that can grow up to 7 m long. It has aerial roots that help it climb and hold itself up. It is grown a lot because it has sweet.
What is hylocereus Polyrhizus?

The red-fleshed Hylocereus Polyrhizus Dragon Fruit is the most common type. It is known as a "super fruit" because its dark red flesh has a lot of antioxidants. The plant's branches are strong, and it can handle heat well. The stems are about 19 to 16 inches across and have many aerial roots that hold them to the tree trunks.
How do you grow Hylocereus?
Put the potted cactus cutting in a spot that gets full sun or some shade. Mist the cutting of cactus every day until new growth appears, which will take two to four weeks. When plants start to grow, water the soil twice a week when it's warm and once a week when it's cold. Adjust how much you water based on how wet the soil is. You don't want the soil to get too dry.
Is hylocereus Costaricensis self pollinating?
H. Costaricensis stands for Hylocereus Costaricensis. This plant is known for having some of the biggest stems and a beautiful round fruit. If the flowers could pollinate themselves, it would have been the perfect plant.
How fast does Hylocereus grow?
Years before fruiting: six months to a year after planting a piece of a fruiting stem. From seed to flower, the plant can take up to seven years.
Michael Gorelov
Rate author
Exotic fruits and vegetables
So, what do you think about it?

By clicking the "Post Comment" button, I consent to processing personal information and accept the privacy policy.