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Hylocereus undatus
Scientific classification Red Pencil Icon.png
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Order: Caryophyllales
Family: Cactaceae
Subfamily: Cactoideae
Tribe: Hylocereeae
Genus: Hylocereus
(A.Berger) Britton & Rose

See text

Hylocereus is a genus of cacti, often referred to as night-blooming cactus (though the term is also used for many other cacti). Several species have large edible fruits, which are known as pitahayas or dragonfruits. Whether Hylocereus is a distinct genus is uncertain as of July 2013.

A genus is a taxonomic rank used in the biological classification of living and fossil organisms, as well as viruses, in biology. In the hierarchy of biological classification, genus comes above species and below family. In binomial nomenclature, the genus name forms the first part of the binomial species name for each species within the genus.

Cactus family of mostly succulent plants, adapted to dry environments

A cactus is a member of the plant family Cactaceae, a family comprising about 127 genera with some 1750 known species of the order Caryophyllales. The word "cactus" derives, through Latin, from the Ancient Greek κάκτος, kaktos, a name originally used by Theophrastus for a spiny plant whose identity is not certain. Cacti occur in a wide range of shapes and sizes. Most cacti live in habitats subject to at least some drought. Many live in extremely dry environments, even being found in the Atacama Desert, one of the driest places on earth. Cacti show many adaptations to conserve water. Almost all cacti are succulents, meaning they have thickened, fleshy parts adapted to store water. Unlike many other succulents, the stem is the only part of most cacti where this vital process takes place. Most species of cacti have lost true leaves, retaining only spines, which are highly modified leaves. As well as defending against herbivores, spines help prevent water loss by reducing air flow close to the cactus and providing some shade. In the absence of leaves, enlarged stems carry out photosynthesis. Cacti are native to the Americas, ranging from Patagonia in the south to parts of western Canada in the north—except for Rhipsalis baccifera, which also grows in Africa and Sri Lanka.

In biology, a species ( ) is the basic unit of classification and a taxonomic rank of an organism, as well as a unit of biodiversity. A species is often defined as the largest group of organisms in which any two individuals of the appropriate sexes or mating types can produce fertile offspring, typically by sexual reproduction. Other ways of defining species include their karyotype, DNA sequence, morphology, behaviour or ecological niche. In addition, paleontologists use the concept of the chronospecies since fossil reproduction cannot be examined. While these definitions may seem adequate, when looked at more closely they represent problematic species concepts. For example, the boundaries between closely related species become unclear with hybridisation, in a species complex of hundreds of similar microspecies, and in a ring species. Also, among organisms that reproduce only asexually, the concept of a reproductive species breaks down, and each clone is potentially a microspecies.



In the classification of the International Cactaceae Systematics Group of the International Organization for Succulent Plant Study, the genus Hylocereus is one of the six genera of the tribe Hylocereeae. In this classification, the genus Wilmattea Britton & Rose is included in Hylocereus. [1] A 2011 study of the molecular phylogeny of the Cactaceae concluded that neither the tribe nor the genus was monophyletic (i.e. neither comprised all the descendants of a common ancestor). Two species of Hylocereus formed a clade with two species of Selenicereus , suggesting that the genera were not distinct. [2]

The International Organization for Succulent Plant Study (IOS) describes itself as a "non-governmental organization promoting the study and conservation of succulent and allied plants and encouraging collaboration among scientists and curators of significant living collections of such plants, professional or amateur." In 1984, it was decided that the Cactaceae Section of the IOS should set up a working party, now called the International Cactaceae Systematics Group (ICSG), to produce consensus classifications of cacti down to the level of genera. Their system has been used as the basis of subsequent classifications.

Hylocereeae tribe of cacti

The Hylocereeae are a tribe of cacti. Found in the tropical forests of Central America, they are climbers or epiphytes, unlike most cacti. In the classification of the International Cactaceae Systematics Group of the International Organization for Succulent Plant Study, the tribe has six genera.

Nathaniel Lord Britton American botanist

Nathaniel Lord Britton was an American botanist and taxonomist who co-founded the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx, New York.

Summary of the species

Examples of Hylocereus seedlings Pitaya bonsai.jpg
Examples of Hylocereus seedlings
<i>Hylocereus costaricensis</i> species of plant

Hylocereus costaricensis, the Costa Rican pitahaya or Costa Rica nightblooming cactus, is a cactus species native to Costa Rica and Nicaragua. 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.

<i>Hylocereus megalanthus</i> species of plant

Hylocereus megalanthus is a cactus species in the genus Hylocereus that is native to northern South America, where it is known, along with its fruit, by the name of Pitahaya. The species is grown commercially for its yellow fruit, but is also an impressive ornamental climbing vine with perhaps the largest flowers of all cacti.

Fruit of Hylocereus undatus Pitaya cross section ed2.jpg
Fruit of Hylocereus undatus
<i>Hylocereus setaceus</i> species of plant

Hylocereus setaceus is a species of plant in the Cactaceae family. It is found in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, and Paraguay. Its natural habitats are subtropical or tropical dry forests, subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests, rocky shores, and sandy shores. It is not considered threatened by the IUCN.

<i>Hylocereus undatus</i> species of plant, dragonfruit

Hylocereus undatus, the white-fleshed pitahaya, is a species of Cactaceae and is the most cultivated species in the genus. It is used both as an ornamental vine and as a fruit crop - the pitahaya or dragon fruit. The native origin of the species has never been resolved.

See also

<i>Epiphyllum</i> genus of plants

Epiphyllum is a genus of 19 species of epiphytic plants in the cactus family (Cactaceae), native to Central America. Common names for these species include climbing cacti, orchid cacti and leaf cacti, though the latter also refers to the genus Pereskia.

Related Research Articles

Night-blooming cereus Wikimedia disambiguation page

Night-blooming cereus is the common name referring to a large number of flowering ceroid cacti that bloom at night. The flowers are short lived, and some of these species, such as Selenicereus grandiflorus, bloom only once a year, for a single night. Other names for one or more cacti with this habit are princess of the night, Honolulu queen, Christ in the manger, dama de noche and queen of the night.

Ceroid cactus

The term ceroid cactus is used to describe any of the species of cacti with very elongated bodies, including columnar growth cacti and epiphytic cacti. The name is from the Latin cēreus, wax taper, referring to the stiff, upright form of the columnar species. Some species of ceroid cacti were known as torch cactus or torch-thistle, supposedly due to their use as torches by Native Americans in the past.

Moonlight cactus genus of plants

Selenicereus, or moonlight cacti, is an epiphytic, lithophytic, and terrestrial cactus genus found in Central America, the Caribbean and northern South America.

<i>Weberocereus</i> genus of plants

Weberocereus is genus of cacti. It produces a green and white flower and is found mainly in Costa Rica and Nicaragua.

<i>Epiphyllum crenatum</i> species of plant

Epiphyllum crenatum, the crenate orchid cactus, is a species of cactus and one of the most important parents in creating the Epiphyllum-hybrids commonly cultivated throughout the world. It is cultivated for its beautiful diurnal flowers.

<i>Disocactus flagelliformis</i> species of plant

Disocactus flagelliformis, the rattail cactus, is a species of Cactaceae and is the most cultivated species in the genus. Due to its ease of cultivation and attractive floral displays, D. flagelliformis is often grown as an ornamental potted plant.

<i>Selenicereus anthonyanus</i> species of plant

Selenicereus anthonyanus is a cactus species native to southern Mexico. It is grown as an ornamental because of its nocturnal flowers and unusual, leaf-like stems. Common names include fishbone cactus, rick rack cactus, zig-zag cactus and St. Anthony's rik-rak, and is sometimes referred to as an orchid cactus.

<i>Epiphyllum anguliger</i> species of plant

Epiphyllum anguliger, commonly known as the fishbone cactus or zig zag cactus, is a cactus species native to Mexico. The species is commonly grown as an ornamental for its fragrant flowers in the fall.

Schlumbergera kautskyi is a species of plant in the Cactaceae family. It is endemic to a small area of the coastal mountains of south-eastern Brazil where its natural habitat is rocky areas. It is threatened by habitat loss. It is in the same genus as the popular houseplant known as Christmas Cactus or Thanksgiving Cactus.

<i>Epiphyllum pumilum</i> species of plant

Epiphyllum pumilum is a cactus species native to Mexico and Guatemala. The species is commonly grown as an ornamental for its beautiful, fragrant flowers in the summer.

<i>Selenicereus grandiflorus</i> species of plant

Selenicereus grandiflorus is a cactus species originating from the Antilles, Mexico and Central America. The species is commonly referred to as queen of the night, night-blooming cereus, large-flowered cactus, sweet-scented cactus or vanilla cactus. The true species is extremely rare in cultivation. Most of the plants under this name belong to other species or hybrids. It is often confused with the genus Epiphyllum.

Pitaya fruit of several cactus species

A pitaya or pitahaya the fruit of several different cactus species indigenous to the Americas. Pitaya usually refers to fruit of the genus Stenocereus, while pitahaya or dragon fruit refers to fruit of the genus Hylocereus, both in the Cactaceae family. The dragon fruit is cultivated in Southeast Asia, Florida, the Caribbean, Australia, and throughout tropical and subtropical world regions.

<i>Echinocereus dasyacanthus</i> species of plant

Echinocereus dasyacanthus is a member of the cactus family, Cactaceae. It is one of about 2000 total species belonging to this family. The cactus is commonly known as Texas rainbow cactus because of the subtle rings or bands of contrasting colors along the stem of the plant. Not all Texas rainbow cacti have the "rainbow" coloration on their stems. Another common name is spiny hedgehog cactus.

<i>Opuntia macrocentra</i> species of plant

Opuntia macrocentra, the long-spined purplish prickly pear or purple pricklypear, is a cactus found in the lower Southwestern United States and Northwestern Mexico. A member of the prickly pear genus, this species of Opuntia is most notable as one of a few cacti that produce a purple pigmentation in the stem. Other common names for this plant include black-spined pricklypear, long-spine prickly pear, purple pricklypear, and redeye prickly pear.


  1. Anderson, Edward F. (2001), The Cactus Family, Pentland, Oregon: Timber Press, ISBN   978-0-88192-498-5 , p. 101
  2. Bárcenas, Rolando T.; Yesson, Chris & Hawkins, Julie A. (2011), "Molecular systematics of the Cactaceae", Cladistics, 27 (5): 470–489, doi:10.1111/j.1096-0031.2011.00350.x
CactiGuide: Hylocereus
Cactuspedia.info: Hylocereus undatus