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Galveston Monthly

Exotic Fruit - A Taste of Something Different

Mar 11, 2019 05:47AM

 Dragon Fruit

  Dragon Fruit Cactus or Thai Dragon Fruit (Hylocereus undatus) has become increasingly popular in recent years, and at eight dollars per fruit at grocery stores, perhaps worth a consideration for home garden cultivation. The Thai Dragon Fruit is an exotic cactus from Asia, Mexico, and South America that can be grown as an ornamental plant in pots or as a climbing-vine. It not only bears a tasty and most unusual flaming-neon-pink fruit, but also produces large white blooms with an exotically fruity perfume. These night blooms may spread up to nearly a foot long, one of the largest flowers known.

  The fruit itself is easily peeled, exposing a milky-white flesh speckled with tiny black seeds similar to kiwi fruit, with a melon/pear taste. It is often used in jam, ice cream, sorbet, smoothies, or fruit juice. Its high levels of Vitamin C will boost the immune system, carotene levels make the fruit anti-carcinogenic, and with zero cholesterol they can be good for the heart and cardiovascular system.

  A climbing vine that may need the support of stakes, a fence, or a wall, dragon fruit need full or part sun (base in shade, tips in sun), well-draining soil, a balanced fertilizer monthly during the growing season, and water only when surface is dry to the touch. Do not allow plant to sit in water.

  Fast growing and drought tolerant, some varieties are self-fertile but propagation is easily achieved through the use of cuttings. One plant can produce fruit for up to twenty years.

  Few diseases bother the dragon fruit, but root rot may occur if overwatered, and mealy bugs and aphids can potentially be problematic as well as mites or thrips. The use of commercial pesticides or a spray cleansing with soapy water will keep these challenges under control.

 

 Kumquat

  Nagami Kumquat (Citrus japonica) is an edible fruit that resembles a small oval orange but is more the size of a large olive. The name kumquat is derived from a Cantonese word meaning “golden orange.”

  The kumquat originates from China and Southeast Asia and can be found referenced in Chinese literature in the 12th century. In the United States, Citrus japonica is grown in several states including Florida, California, and Hawaii, as well as Nevada, Arizona, and some eastern states as far north as the barrier islands of Massachusetts, thanks to the fact that Nagami kumquats can withstand frost and low temperatures into the teens.

  The kumquat is a slow-growing evergreen tree with dark green glossy leaves and blooms similar to other citrus; it can produce hundreds of fruit each year. The sweetest part of the fruit is the peel, the seeds and pulp are actually quite sour, but the entire fruit can be eaten whole.

  Nagami kumquat trees may reach heights of eight to fifteen feet under favorable conditions. They require well-draining soil and full sun, can tolerate seaside environments, and do not require extensive grooming or pruning, only removal of any suckers that may drain the tree of needed nutrients. The kumquat is rarely bothered by pests or disease and the use of mulch can inhibit the growth of weeds around the base of the tree.