Botanical and Cultural Adventures

Botanical and Cultural Adventures

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Stenocereus gummosus fruit - pitaya agria

Stenocereus gummosus like many other plants in the genus produce fruit that is both large and pleasant tasting. Fruits from all cactus are 'edible', or not poisonous, but not all are tasty enough or large enough to be worth the effort. Sometimes the small red berries of Mammillarias are worth it with their nice sweet and tart flavor and lack of spines on the fruit. But when you see a fruit like this, it had better taste good to be worth the effort of getting through those spines!

The plant is a sprawling type plant that can make quite large clonal patches. While that may make it difficult to get at the fruit in the center of the plant, it at least stays at a moderate height so that the fruit will never be too high to get to.

When the fruit is ripe, it should be dark red and starting to split open. Usually the spines will scrape off fairly easily when fully ripe, but not always.

Using a knife to slice the skin a little bit more allows it to pop open quite easily. If really ripe, the turgid pressure will let the fruit start opening on its own once you make the slice. At this point it is easy to scoop out the tasty flesh or just peel back the skin (spines and all) and bite away! The taste varied between plants, but in general I would describe them as tasting like a combination of strawberry and watermelon with a little bit of a tart kick. Definitely refreshing when exploring in the desert!