SA Country Life

Dragon with a Soft, Sweet Heart

It was against the distant backdrop of the Drakensberg – the ‘mountains of the dragon’ – that I saw my first fruit of the same name. Dragon fruit. Or pitahaya, a member of the cactus family that originates in parts of South and Central America.

Its common name derives from its reptilian-like, leathery skin and scales that start out bright green and, as the fruit matures, take on a fiery blush that would be the envy of any self-respecting dragon. But unlike every other dragon I know, this one also has a beautiful, fragile side – dazzling white flowers that bloom for just one night, before shrivelling in the light of day to ultimately become papery beards on the chins of the developing fruit.

Mark and Fiona Hodgson of Lions River in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands have been farming dragon fruit for three years. “You ought to see the flowers, they’re a spectacular sight,” says Fiona,

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