What is a Succulent Fruit?
And 20 FAQs about them!

While not all succulents produce fruit that we can eat, many cacti plants do. This is what a succulent fruit really means.

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Jimena Bolívar

June 27, 2021


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What is a Succulent Fruit?

Succulents are a delight for anyone who is looking for low-maintenance plants. But did you know that many of them grow fruits that you can eat without hesitating?

A succulent fruit is a category of fruits, such as peaches, etc. Alternatively, it may also refer to fruit that grows on succulent plants, such as cacti. Succulent fruits on cacti are dragon fruit, prickly pears, and bahidaj.

Many succulent parts can be toxic for humans and animals. However, numerous succulents produce safe fruits not just for animals but also for you!

For succulents that produce fruit, most of them grow on cacti. However, fruits categorized as ‘succulents’ are due to their fleshy texture and grow on regular plants, not succulent plants.

Fruits that are ‘Succulents’

According to terminology, some fruits are called succulents.

Every fruit has its own feeling and texture when touched from the outside. ‘Succulent’ fruits have a fleshy texture, which, when touched, feels exceptionally soft. Some examples are apricots and various cherries.

Fruits Produced by Succulent Plants

1. Do all succulents produce fruit?

Do you wonder if your succulent plant will ever produce fruit?

Many succulent plants may have edible parts, but not all of them produce fruit.

Not all succulent plants produce fruit. Most of the fruits that humans can eat are borne on cacti plants. One of the most common succulent fruits is dragon fruit.

Another succulent found in America produces a fruit known as Tunas. These tiny fruits grow on the tips of the leaves. You can pick them when they’ve turned deep red because that’s when they’re the ripest.

2. What cacti species produce fruit?

Several cacti species produce fruit, of which prickly pears and dragon fruits are the most common fruit types!

The fruit-producing cacti belong to the Opuntia, Hylocereus species, and the Saguaro. All these cacti can be found in various regions of America.

Cacti fruits come in a variety of colors. They range from white to yellow and red. Many cacti fruits start as flowers and then eventually change color from green flesh to neon and saturated shades of yellow, red, orange, and many more.

Some of the most common fruit-producing cacti are:

  • Hylocereus
  • Prickly pear cactus (Opuntia species)
  • Saguaro cactus

3. Are any cactus fruit poisonous?

All types of cactus fruit are safe to eat.

All the varieties of cacti fruits are safe to eat; none are toxic to humans.

It is essential to understand that many parts of cacti can be toxic to both animals and humans. Never attempt to consume any part of any succulent plant, whether cactus or not. Suppose if you want to make cactus juice to drink, it’s always best to consult a reliable source to learn about the toxicity of succulents, whether they produce fruits or not.

From my experience, you can refer to this list from ASPCA for toxic and non-toxic plants.

Dragon Fruit (from Hylocereus Cacti)

A drgaon fruit in the process of blooming

4. Is dragon fruit a cactus or a fruit?

The dragon fruit is both a fruit or a cactus - depending on how you choose to see it!

When purchased, dragon fruit usually refers to the fruit itself. However, dragon fruit may also refer to the Hylocereus Undatus, the most common type of cactus to produce dragon fruit.

Mainly, dragon fruit refers to the fruits that come from the Hylocereus cacti species. So if you’re confused about what to call it, you can always say ‘dragon fruit’ is derived from Hylocereus cacti.

Dragon fruits are always red, pink, or yellow, with tiny green spikes poking out.

A yellow dragon fruit

5. What cactus does a dragon fruit grow on?

The dragon fruit grows on Hylocereus cacti species!

The dragon fruit cactus is a vine cactus known as the ‘Hylocereus undatus.’

The dragon fruit grows on a cactus species known as Hylocereus. You can find this cactus easily in tropical areas.

However, around 20 species of the Hylocereus cacti, and almost all of them bear dragon fruit. So, the dragon fruit you purchase is mainly from the Hylocereus undatus, the other Hylocereus species also produce edible dragon fruits, but the ‘Hylocereus undatus’ is the most common one.

6. Can you eat a dragon fruit cactus every day?

A little bit of dragon fruit daily will serve you well!

Dragon fruits can be eaten daily, but the intake should be moderate since they are very rich in calories. For adults, 25 grams of dragon fruit daily is ideal.

So you can eat dragon fruit daily, but be mindful of your calorie intake. There hasn’t been proper research into how much quantity of dragon fruit is good. However, 25 grams daily is a sufficient quantity for adults.

7. Are there any other names for a dragon fruit?

Dragon fruit is one of the most delicious fruits that a cactus produces!

The dragon fruit is also known as Pitaya, Pitahaya and even thang loy. Its name usually depends on the origin.

Another word for the dragon fruit is ‘Pitaya.’ This is the most common one, followed by Pitahaya. In Hawaii, the dragon fruit is even called paniniokapunahou and in Thailand, by the name of thang loy, and so on!

8. What is the taste of dragon fruit?

The dragon fruit doesn’t taste as rare as it sounds!

The dragon fruit has the fused taste of kiwis and pears.

Dragon fruit may look very different from your ordinary fruits, but you’ll find that the taste is a fusion of some common fruits! If you have tasted kiwi and pears, the taste of dragon fruit will be very familiar.

9. Should dragon fruit be refrigerated?

You’ve got dragon fruit, but how do you store it?

A dragon fruit cross-section

Dragon fruit can be kept as-is for a small duration. For a longer period, it should be sealed in a plastic bag and refrigerated.

You don’t need to prepare dragon fruit before eating it. You only need to peel the skin and cut it into slices if you want. It is best to eat the fruit immediately after cutting it. If you don’t plan to eat it straight away, you must always refrigerate it.

WARNING!

Don’t leave dragon fruit unattended

Never leave sliced, open dragon fruit out on the counter or in the open air. Not only can it be unhygienic, but the fruit can also rot away or get infected by bacteria and fungi.

10. What are the benefits of dragon fruit?

You won’t believe how healthy dragon fruits are!

Dragon fruit is known to boost the immune system. It is rich in fiber, vitamins, and many antioxidants that combat dangerous diseases like cancer and regulate sugar levels.

Just like ordinary fruits, dragon fruit can be very healthy for you. Here is how dragon fruits can boost your health:

  • Antioxidants and Vitamin C: Maintain a better immune system and boost the benefits of iron intake. It also helps shield against cancer and other life-threatening diseases.

  • Fiber: Prevents frequent bursts of hunger and keeps your digestive system healthy.

  • Iron: It can raise iron levels, and significantly improve the flow of oxygen in your body, making you feel more energetic.

  • It can help drop the blood sugar level, which is good if you have diabetes or have blood sugar issues.

  • Prebiotics: These substances build up and feed healthy bacteria (probiotics like lactobacilli and bifidobacteria) called in your intestines, making certain intestinal functions work properly.

Although the benefits of dragon fruit have been validated, there has been no research on the quantity that can provide all the above benefits.

Prickly Pear Fruits (from Opuntia Cacti)

A prickly pear cactus having red fruit

11. From where does a prickly pear fruit come?

The prickly pears are fruits grown on the prickly pear cactus!

The prickly pear cactus (opuntia or the nopales cactus) produces pears. These fruits are also known as tuna, nopal, and sabra.

The Opuntia cacti species can be distinguished by their flat stems that are covered with a lot of spines. These cacti exist in large quantities in Florida, Massachusetts, Montana and even in New Mexico.

12. What does a prickly pear fruit taste like?

Are you a bubblegum lover? You’ll love the prickly pear fruit!

Yellow prickly fruits growing on cacti

The prickly pear fruit tastes like a fusion of bubblegum and watermelon.

Although the prickly pear fruits are called pears, they are not associated with pears at all. They taste very sweet and you could sense a bit of melon and watermelon while eating it, but the taste is not as deep and may give a bubble-gum-like sensation as you chew on it.

13. Are there any other names for a prickly pear fruit?

Don’t be confused if you hear other names for prickly pear fruit!

The prickly pear fruit is also known as tuna, sabra, or nopal.

Some other common names include barbary fig, mission cactus, and Indian fig. Whereas, the pads of the prickly pear fruits are known as ‘Nopales’ in Spanish. The word ‘tuna’ is also of Spanish origin, but that is only meant for the fruit and not for other parts of the prickly pear cactus.

14. How can prickly pear fruits be stored?

A prickly pear fruit may not react well to room temperature!

Prickly pear fruits should be refrigerated for a long life of 2-3 days.

Whether you cut your prickly pear fruit or not, seal it in a plastic bag to refrigerate it. It will last for a maximum of 2 days, as opposed to leaving it at room temperature, which will cause the fruit to rot.

You can also put the fruit in an airtight lid and put it in a freezer.

WARNING!

Don’t refrigerate wet fruit!

If the fruit is soaked when you put it in the refrigerator, it may become frozen. Always dry your prickly pear fruits well before storing them.

PRO-TIP

Pre-storage tips!

Always wash and dry your prickly pear fruit well before storing it.

15. How should you eat prickly pear fruit?

You don’t need anything fancy to prepare a prickly pear fruit for eating!

Prickly pear fruits should be sliced, with the skin completely peeled off before eating.

An easy way to peel off the prickly pear fruit skin is to make a long vertical cut in the middle of the fruit. Once the fruit is in halves, it will be easier to take off the skin from each.

You can use the prickly pear fruit with other edibles such as salads and cakes. Since the fruit has a sweet taste, you can also prepare its juice.

16. How is the prickly pear fruit healthy?

Prickly pear fruits have benefits similar to dragon fruits!

Prickly pear fruits have high calcium levels and low calories, making them ideal for people on a diet.

If you’re on a diet and feeling low, prickly pear fruits can make you feel energized in no time.

Bahidaj (from Saguaro Cacti)

A saguaro cactus with bird on it

17. Where does the bahidaj fruit come from?

Not only is the Saguaro cactus giant, but it also produces impressive fruit!

Saguaro cacti growing in desert regions produce fruits known as the bahidaj.

Bahidaj will not grow on any other cactus species other than the Saguaro. You can find the Saguaro cacti in Arizona, the Sonoran desert, and also in some parts of South Eastern California.

You can learn more about the Saguaro cactus here.

18. What does bahidaj (saguaro fruit) look like?

If you’re seeing flowers on saguaro cacti, they’ll turn into fruits!

Saguaro fruit, known as bahidaj, starts as flowers and ultimately blooms into fruit.

The saguaro cactus bahidaj fruit buds look green at the first stage. Eventually, they blossom into splendid scarlet flowers. Most of these exist on the top of the Saguaro cacti, but they can grow at other points too.

19. What does bahidaj (saguaro fruit) taste like?

The bahidaj is a fusion of nuts and sweetness!

Bahidaj, or saguaro fruit, has a moderately sweet taste. Its inner seeds taste like nuts.

It is not necessary to eat the seeds. But if you want to have a complete taste of the bahidaj, then there’s nothing better than eating the fruit along with the seeds!

Remember to always peel off the skin before eating them!

20. Do animals eat saguaro fruit (bahidaj)?

The saguaro cactus fruit is loved by animals too!

Desert animals such as birds and woodrats are accustomed to eating succulent plants; many of them eat cacti along with its fruits

A lot of desert animals look up to the saguaro cactus fruit as both food and a source of water intake. Some other animals include javelinas, coyotes, bats, and even more birds such as finches.

Conclusion

When speaking of succulent fruits, we can mean two things. Either these are the fruits growing on succulent plants, or they are a category of fruits. For succulent plants, humans’ most common edible fruits are dragon fruit, prickly pear, and bahidaj.

Do you wish to learn more about edible succulent fruits? Check out this fantastic post on how to eat prickly pear fruit.

How to Eat Prickly Pear? Here's The Right Way to Enjoy Cactus Fruit!

Are you confused whether you can eat prickly pear or cactus fruit? Don’t worry! Read ahead to learn more about this delicious fruit!

Jimena Bolívar Picture

By Jimena Bolívar

Easy Succulents Founder

My name is Jimena and I'm the the founder of Easy Succulents! I'm fascinated by this wonderful plants and I want to share with the world everything I know about them!

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Jimena Bolívar Picture

Jimena Bolívar

Easy Succulents Founder

My name is Jimena and I'm the the founder of Easy Succulents! I'm fascinated by this wonderful plants and I want to share with the world everything I know about them!

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