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Hylocereus megalanthus is a cactus species 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 fruit, but is also an impressive ornamental vine with perhaps the largest flowers of all cacti.

Etymology

Megalanthus (Greek) – large flowered. This species produces among of the largest flowers within the cactus family.

Common Names

  • English: Yellow Pitahaya
  • German: Gelbe Pitaya, Gelbe Pitahaya
  • Swedish: gul pitahaya

Origin and habitat

Venezuela to Peru, including Colombia, Bolivia, Ecuador, in tropical Riparian forests. It is Epiphytic or xerophytic.

Description

  • Stems may lie along the ground (procumbent), climb (scandent), or hang (pendent). Stems are often only 1.5 cm thick, producing areoal roots; 3 ribs; margins slightly undulating; white areoles; 1-3 spines 2-3 mm long, yellowish; several hairs on young growth, britle-like; green epidermis. *Flowers are nocturnal and funnel-shaped, 32-38 cm long; pericarpel is ovoid or slightly globose, tubercles are large and flattened, with felt-like and spiny areoles subtended by small bracteoles; receptacle elongate; outer tepals long, green, triangular-acute; inner tepals 100 cm long, 3.5 cm wide, white, broader; stamens numerous inserted in two zones, yellow; style yellow, stigma lobes numerous, green.
  • Fruit: ovoid, tuberculate, spiny, yellow (or sometimes red?), seeds black; interior edible, having a pleasant, mildly sweet flavor.

Systematics

Closely related to Hylocereus setaceus (floral tube or pericarpel 19-22 cm with small tubercles) but otherwice quite isolated within Hylocereus. Is intermediate between Selenicereus and Hylocereus. Recent research suggest that this species originated as a hybrid between species of Hylocereus and Selenicereus (see references). The two species possibly involved, as being native in the same area, are Hylocereus costaricensis and Selenicereus inermis.

Cultivation

An easily cultivated, fast growing plant. Needs a compost containing plenty of humus and sufficient moisture in summer. Should not be kept under 8ºC (46,5ºF) in winter. Can be grown in semi-shade, but best in full sunlight. Extra light in the early spring will stimulate budding. Flowers in June to October. This plant may grow to a very large size.

 

Written on August 28th, 2012 , Fruits Tags:

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