AMAZING CEREUS – SECRETS OF THE OTHER MOONFLOWER PERUVIAN APPLE CACTUS

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The Peruvian apple cactus fruit bears very similar properties to another superfood – its relative, the dragon fruit. They are both known by the names pitaya and moonflower though the Peruvian apple is also called Olala in Peru. Have you ever had a dragon fruit? Good, isn’t it? … and that’s an understatement. It’s amazing! If you haven’t had one you are certainly missing out. If you have and are as in love with it as my family is, then you ought to meet the Peruvian apple.

WHAT IS A SUPERFOOD
Essentially, a superfood is one that’s extremely nutrient-rich; one that aids in the preservation of or restoration of good health when consumed. They’re basically nature’s medicine except they usually don’t carry an unpleasant taste which is unlike most of the medicines my mother (a nurse) introduced me to as a child. If a food that was entirely good to your body was appealing to the eyes, wonderfully fragrant and deliciously refreshing and satisfying all in one, wouldn’t you want to have it? Well, there are quite a few foods that carry these properties and the Peruvian apple is one of them.

What most of us may not be aware of is that most of the Peruvian apple is the fruit of a cacti known scientifically as cereus. Most ornamental cactus plants on which we heap praises and adoration for their uniquely alluring blooms and strong fragrance after a sprinkling of rain or dew, bear fruit that are both pleasing to the tongue and nourishing to your body. Olala is no exception.

Cereus cactus are some of the easiest plants to grow. It is a columnar cactus producing tall, four to eight-lobed columns that average nine inches at their widest point in a mature plant grown in the wild. Potted, household columns may average six inches across. They’re relatively easy to work with because they produce much fewer spines than most of their relatives like opuntia and trichocereus varieties. Additionally, the spines are gathered to joints along the columns that are usually between one and three inches apart, giving you plenty of opportunity to avoid contact with them. Nonetheless I try to always use my gloves when pruning, treating, or harvesting our fruit.

Now, understand that while it is a cactus and can survive long periods of extreme neglect and without water, it is not ideal to suffer your cereus plants to prolonged periods without some love. Mine are happiest in rich soil with proper drainage. Mix in some sand and sawdust for proper balance and breathability. You can water liberally but try to allow the soil to dry between watering. A little stress is good for your cactus. Before long, you’ll start to notice gorgeous, magnificent, white blooms of pearlesque petals dipped in gold, forming all over your cactus. If you’re excited about enjoying that bit, I’m sorry to say you may not unless you are a nocturnal creature. The cereus fruit is one of a group of fruiting cactus plants more commonly called moonflower. It carries that name for a reason – the blooms open up at dusk and stay open through the night. This poses a challenge for pollination as nocturnal winged creatures tend to gravitate toward light sources and we cannot have fruit without pollination so what do we do? I suggest moving your Peruvian apple pot under a lamp post or any bright source of light. You can also course some string lights around your plant to attract pollinators. Be sure to lay them carefully so as not to disturb your flowers and fruit. You can also pollinate them by hand.

Now I won’t give you an exact time within which to start looking for blooms because climatic conditions and treatment bear great influence on how soon your cereus begins to flower. I can personally attest to two-foot plants fruiting in six to eighteen months. As you may know, we were living in New York when Exotic Secrets was born. I’ve shared the story several times over but if you haven’t heard it yet and would like to, you can find it here. It was while living in New York that I grew our first Peruvian apple and they took about nine months to flower Some of our clients have sent photos and testimonials of flowers and fruit within two months of receipt though that tends to happen in more tropical regions.

Your flowers will be followed by green fruit that are spine-free and completely smooth. The skin will slowly change from green to pink, yellow, violet or red when ripening – depending on the variety as some ripe fruit can carry any of the colors listed above. Now comes the most rewarding part of the Peruvian apple experience – harvesttime!

The possessions on which we place the greatest value in this life usually come at greater cost or expense – that dream car, your perfect home, the job of a lifetime you climbed ladder after ladder to get to… I say all that to encourage you. Like I’d mentioned before, cactus plants have their own line of defense, especially some of our family’s favorites like opuntia and trichocereus. Their defense is wrought with spines and glochids that can prove painful and annoying to deal with if they get hooked into your skin but what they protect is worth the trouble and I believe they are treasures we should all the luxury of enjoying so come harvesttime, do not be daunted. I’m not saying you should be prepared for pain. I’m imploring you to be prepared so you won’t have to encounter pain because it is a very real risk. Ensure you have, thick, rubber gloves just for use with your cactus plants before tackling the establishment or maintenance of a cactus pot or garden. Do not use the gloves for any other activities. Always store them away from common areas, especially if you have children or pets that aren’t immersed in water.

Fortunately, the cereus only has a few spines along the edges of the columns of the plant. There are none on the fruit themselves so you can remove and store your gloves immediately after harvesting. Now comes the fun part! The fruit is crunchy but juicy like a freshly picked watermelon but with more density and a generous distribution of seeds reminiscent of the kiwi seeds’ faultless crunch! The easiest way to enjoy it is to cut your fruit into quarters vertically and peel back the skin. They separate from the fruit almost effortlessly. Sometimes, the ripe fruit might even split open on the plant, especially if they are well watered.

Don’t underestimate your Peruvian apple cactus fruit. Olala is very versatile so don’t be afraid to experiment with juices, punch, sherbet, sauces, pastries, salads teas, and so much more… AND you can do it with a clear conscience. Peruvian apple cactus fruit is entirely wholesome. It means your body no harm in any way. They are some of the richest sources of Vitamin C, that help to lower cholesterol, boost the immune system, prevent cancer and heart disease, aid in weight loss, improve digestion, boost energy, defend against bacteria and fungi, and help in the overall functioning of the body’s systems. They contain no cholesterol and almost no unhealthy, cholesterol-producing fats. They can reduce your chances of conditions like constipation, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, and diseases like colorectal cancer. Carotene is another component of olala fruits, and carotene has been linked to a number of anti-carcinogenic qualities, as well as reducing the size of tumors (OrganicFacts). They help maintain healthy teeth, hair, bones, skin and so much more and can also help you nullify stress. If you’re pregnant, worry not. My doctor allowed me to eat as much of the fruit as I liked (and Lord knows there wasn’t much I liked besides pitaya) while I was pregnant with my daughter. Studies have found no harmful substances in Peruvian apples, not even for women who are pregnant or nursing. There is no loss or trade. You don’t have to give up something to enjoy this moonflower fruit. It’s delicious and refreshing and perfectly low-calorie and the few calories it has are all good for you… so dive in and I hope you enjoy the journey to discovery as much as I have!

MYRTILLOCACTUS – WONDERS OF THE BLUEBERRY CACTUS

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There is very little information published about this cactus when you consider what’s accessible on other columnar types. Blueberry cactus? What does that mean exactly? The myrtillocactus is a columnar type of full, thick, bright-green columns that carry very few, short spines. It is not among the most craved or even familiar of the fruit-bearing cacti as most owners aren’t actually aware of the fact that the little dark beads that follow the pretty blooms are actually edible, good for your body and a treat to the palate. However, it is a showstopper and a great conversation piece to have in your arsenal.

I had just started my cactus collection years ago when I first learnt of a cactus plant that produces fruit reminiscent of blueberries along the column. It fascinated me and I had to have it. We were still in New York at the time so my garden was indoors 80% of the time. My plant was just a baby no more than four inches tall. Yet, I planted it in a ginormous pot and gave it a mix of compost, humus, sawdust, sand and cow manure. Crazy, huh? All this work for a four-inch plant… Well, it turns out I did the right thing. Like your fish in a tank, your plants will grow as to be as big as the container you provide for them allows. If the plant roots are restricted, it triggers the reproductive process in the plant which is something to consider if you’re interested in having a profusion of blooms along your columns in a smaller space. Your blueberry cactus can thrive on neglect like most cacti but try not to leave your plant loveless for too long. Allow the soil to dry out between watering.

Depending on your climatic conditions your myrtillocactus plants may bloom within a year if you started with a cutting from a mature plant. The blooms appear as little pear-like blossoms averaging three inches across along the edges of the plant going all around and down the columns. You’ll get to enjoy them for days on end before they are followed by the little berry-like fruit that change from green to blue-green to a deep, midnight plum color when ripe. Now comes harvesttime!
I like to think that the possessions on which we place the greatest value in this life usually come at greater cost or expense – that dream car, your perfect home, the job of a lifetime you climbed ladder after ladder to get to… I say all that to encourage you. Like I’d mentioned before, cactus plants have their own line of defense, especially some of our family’s favorites like opuntia and trichocereus. Their defense is wrought with spines and glochids that can prove painful and annoying to deal with if they get hooked into your skin but what they protect is worth the trouble and I believe they are treasures we should all the luxury of enjoying so come harvesttime, do not be daunted. I’m not saying you should be prepared for pain. I’m imploring you to be prepared so you won’t have to encounter pain because it is a very real risk. Ensure you have, thick, rubber gloves just for use with your cactus plants before tackling the establishment or maintenance of a cactus pot or garden. Do not use the gloves for any other activities. Always store them away from common areas, especially if you have children or pets that aren’t immersed in water.

Fortunately, the myrtillocactus only has a few spines along the stems of the plant. There are none on the fruit themselves so you can remove and store your gloves immediately after harvesting. Now comes the fun part! The fruit is crunchy but juicy like a normal blueberry with darker skin! The easiest way to enjoy it is to carefully pluck your berry-like fruit from their place along the edge of the column. They separate from the plant almost effortlessly.

Don’t underestimate your myrtillocactus. It is very versatile so don’t be afraid to experiment with juices, punch, sherbet, sauces, pastries, salads teas, and so much more… AND you can do it with a clear conscience. Myrtillocactus blueberry-fruit is entirely wholesome. It means your body no harm in any way. They are some of the richest sources of a host of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals like Vitamins C, E, A and B complex vitamins, potassium, copper, zinc, manganese and so much more that help to lower cholesterol, boost the immune system, prevent cancer and heart disease, aid in weight loss, improve digestion, boost energy, defend against bacteria and fungi, and help in the overall functioning of the body’s systems. They contain no cholesterol and almost no unhealthy, cholesterol-producing fats. They can reduce your chances of conditions like constipation, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, and other diseases. Carotene is another component of your myrtillocactus fruits, and carotene has been linked to a number of anti-carcinogenic qualities, as well as reducing the size of tumors. They help maintain healthy teeth, hair, bones, skin and so much more and can also help you nullify stress. If you’re pregnant, worry not. Talk with your caregiver and health care providers about the foods you’d like to enjoy during your pregnancy. My doctor allowed me to eat as much cactus fruit as I liked (and Lord knows there wasn’t much I liked besides the fruit) while I was pregnant with my daughter. Studies have found no harmful substances in the blueberry cactus fruit so there is no loss or trade. You don’t have to give up something to enjoy it. It’s delicious and refreshing and perfectly low-calorie and the few calories it has are all good for you… so dive in and I hope you enjoy the journey to discovery as much as we have!

GET TO KNOW YOUR MOONFLOWER CACTUS – TRICHOCEREUS

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If you’ve read our articles on the Peruvian Apple cactus and the Opuntia/Prickly pear cactus then much of this is going to sound familiar as you’ll find most edible types of fruit-bearing cacti share many properties. I believe trichocereus is certainly one of the more noteworthy groups that deserve some in-depth exploration.

What most of us may not be aware of is that most of the trichocereus cactus bears edible and delicious fruit. Most ornamental cactus plants on which we heap praises and adoration for their uniquely alluring blooms and strong fragrance after a sprinkling of rain or dew, bear fruit that are both pleasing to the tongue and nourishing to your body. Trichocereus is no exception.

Trichocereus cactus are some of the easiest plants to grow. It is a columnar cactus producing tall, multi-lobed columns that average nine inches at their widest point in a mature plant grown in the wild. Potted, household columns may average six inches across. Admittedly, they’re not as easy to work with as the Peruvian apple or hylocereus groups because they produce much more spines than most of those relatives but they’re all quite rewarding. Additionally, the spines are generously scattered all about the columns so this plant does not intend to make harvesting easy but we’ve found ways around that which we’ll expound on a little later on.

Now, understand that while it is a cactus and can survive long periods of extreme neglect and without water, it is not ideal to suffer your trichocereus plants to prolonged periods without some love. Mine are happiest in rich soil with proper drainage. Mix in some sand and sawdust for proper balance and breathability. You can water liberally but try to allow the soil to dry between watering. A little stress is good for your cactus. Before long, you’ll start to notice gorgeous, magnificent, white blooms of pearlesque petals dipped in gold, forming all over your cactus. If you’re excited about enjoying that bit, I’m sorry to say you may not unless you are a nocturnal creature. The trichocereus fruit is one of a group of fruiting cactus plants more commonly called moonflower. It carries that name for a reason – the blooms open up at dusk and stay open through the night. This poses a challenge for pollination as nocturnal winged creatures tend to gravitate toward light sources and we cannot have fruit without pollination so what do we do? I suggest moving your trichocereus pot under a lamp post or any bright source of light. You can also course some string lights around your plant to attract pollinators. Be sure to lay them carefully so as not to disturb your flowers and fruit. You can also pollinate them by hand. If you intend to try that, always wear your thick, rubber gloves.

You can start looking for blooms within six to eighteen months depending on your climatic conditions. Treatment also bears great influence on how soon your thrichocereus begins to flower. I can personally attest to two-foot plants fruiting in six to eighteen months. Some of our clients have sent photos and testimonials of flowers and fruit within six months of receipt and that tends to happen in more tropical regions. Our first was in New York and it took almost two years to flower although it was a very young plant. Your results may vary.

Your flowers will be followed by green fruit that are spine-free and completely smooth. The skin will slowly change from green to dark-green, yellow, violet or red when ripening – depending on the variety as some ripe fruit can carry any of the colors listed above. Now comes the most rewarding part of the trichocereus experience – harvesttime!

The possessions on which we place the greatest value in this life usually come at greater cost or expense – that dream car, your perfect home, the job of a lifetime you climbed ladder after ladder to get to… I say all that to encourage you. Like I’d mentioned before, cactus plants have their own line of defense, especially some of our family’s favorites like opuntia and trichocereus. Their defense is wrought with spines and glochids that can prove painful and annoying to deal with if they get hooked into your skin but what they protect is worth the trouble and I believe they are treasures we should all the luxury of enjoying so come harvesttime, do not be daunted. I’m not saying you should be prepared for pain. I’m imploring you to be prepared so you won’t have to encounter pain because it is a very real risk. Ensure you have, thick, rubber gloves just for use with your cactus plants before tackling the establishment or maintenance of a cactus pot or garden. Do not use the gloves for any other activities. Always store them away from common areas, especially if you have children or pets that aren’t immersed in water.

After picking your fruit – while still wearing your gloves – use a knife or garden shears to remove all spines and glochids then set your fruit aside. I like to lay out a few sheets of old newspapers or magazines before I get started so those pesky bits will fall onto them and cleanup will be easy afterward. When you’ve folded and discarded your collection of thorns and glochids, you can carefully remove your gloves and store them. Now, all that’s left is to enjoy your fruit.

Here comes the fun part! The fruit is crunchy but juicy like a freshly picked watermelon but with more density and a generous distribution of seeds reminiscent of the kiwi seeds’ faultless crunch! The easiest way to enjoy it is to cut your fruit into quarters vertically and peel back the skin. They separate from the fruit almost effortlessly. Sometimes, the ripe fruit might even split open on the plant, especially if they are well watered.

Don’t underestimate your trichocereus fruit. It is very versatile so don’t be afraid to experiment with juices, punch, sherbet, sauces, pastries, salads teas, and so much more… AND you can do it with a clear conscience. The cactus fruit is entirely wholesome. It means your body no harm in any way. They are some of the richest sources of Vitamin C, that help to lower cholesterol, boost the immune system, prevent cancer and heart disease, aid in weight loss, improve digestion, boost energy, defend against bacteria and fungi, and help in the overall functioning of the body’s systems. They contain no cholesterol and almost no unhealthy, cholesterol-producing fats. They can reduce your chances of conditions like constipation, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, and diseases like colorectal cancer. Carotene is another component of trichocereus fruits, and carotene has been linked to a number of anti-carcinogenic qualities, as well as reducing the size of tumors (OrganicFacts). They help maintain healthy teeth, hair, bones, skin and so much more and can also help you nullify stress. If you’re pregnant, worry not. My doctor allowed me to eat as much of the fruit as I liked (and Lord knows there wasn’t much I liked besides cactus fruit) while I was pregnant with my daughter. Studies have found no harmful substances in the fruits, not even for women who are pregnant or nursing. There is no loss or trade. You don’t have to give up something to enjoy this moonflower fruit. It’s delicious and refreshing and perfectly low-calorie and the few calories it has are all good for you… so dive in and I hope you enjoy the journey to discovery as much as as I did.

POWERFUL SUPERFOOD HYLOCEREUS – PITAYA MOONFLOWER DRAGON FRUIT WONDERS UNVEILED

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In the past decade, you may have noticed that the North American interest in dragon fruit has increased significantly and it is now being included in a short list of the world’s rarest superfoods. Why is that? I have a few ideas. Let’s get to know the dragon fruit.

 

 

WHAT IS A SUPERFOOD?

Essentially, a superfood is one that’s extremely nutrient-rich; one that aids in the preservation of or restoration of good health when consumed. They’re basically nature’s medicine except they usually don’t carry an unpleasant taste which is unlike most of the medicines my mother (a nurse) introduced me to as a child. If a food that was entirely good to your body was appealing to the eyes, wonderfully fragrant and deliciously refreshing and satisfying all in one, wouldn’t you want to have it? Well, there are quite a few foods that carry these properties and the dragon fruit is one of them.

WHAT IS A DRAGON FRUIT ANYWAY?

What most of us may not be aware of is that the pitahaya is the fruit of a cacti known scientifically as hylocereus. Most ornamental cactus plants on which we heap praises and adoration for their uniquely alluring blooms and strong fragrance after a sprinkling of rain or dew, bear fruit that are both pleasing to the tongue and nourishing to your body. The dragon fruit is no exception.

Hylocereus cactus are some of the more pliable plants to grow. They produce long triangular stems that are usually two to three inches across. The plant usually requires the support of a beam, tree trunk, or post. It is considered more pliable and easier to wrk with than your average cactus because it produces much fewer spines than most of its’ relatives like opuntia and trichocereus varieties. Additionally, the spines are gathered to joints along the stems that are usually between one and three inches apart, giving you plenty of opportunity to avoid contact with them. Nonetheless I try to always use my gloves when pruning, treating, training or harvesting our dragon fruit. Let’s revisit that training subject. Training your cactus is critical to the success of your yield. If the concept or idea of training is foreign to you, you can learn more here.

CARE

Now, understand that while it is a cactus and can survive long periods of extreme neglect and without water, it is not ideal to suffer your dragon fruit plants to prolonged periods without some love. Mine are happiest in rich soil with proper drainage. Mix in some sand and sawdust for proper balance and breathability. You can water liberally but try to allow the soil to dry between watering. A little stress is good for your cactus. Before long, you’ll start to notice gorgeous, magnificent, white blooms of pearlesque petals forming all over your cactus. If you’re excited about enjoying that bit, I’m sorry to say you may not unless you are a nocturnal creature. The dragon fruit is one of a group of fruiting cactus plants more commonly called moonflower. It carries that name for a reason – the blooms open up at dusk and stay open through the night. This poses a challenge for pollination as nocturnal winged creatures tend to gravitate toward light sources and we cannot have fruit without pollination so what do we do? I suggest moving your dragon fruit pot under a lamp post or any bright source of light. You can also course some string lights around your plant to attract pollinators. Be sure to lay them carefully so as not to disturb your flowers and fruit. You can also pollinate them by hand.

 

HARVEST

Now I won’t give you an exact time within which to start looking for blooms because climatic conditions and treatment bear great influence on how soon your pitahaya begins to flower. I can personally attest to eight-inch cuttings fruiting in six to eighteen months. As you may know, we were living in New York when Exotic Secrets was born. I’ve shared the story several times over but if you haven’t heard it yet and would like to, you can find it here. It was while living in New York that I sought out and obtained my first dragon fruit cuttings – about two dozen of them – f both red and white varieties. I started growing those and they took about eighteen months to flower though by that time the plants had already begun taking over the indoor garden. They grew so fast, even throughout the winter! Some of our clients have sent photos and testimonials of flowers and fruit within six months of receipt though that tends to happen in more tropical regions. What I can tell you is this: if you love your plants your hylocereus will flower in its own time and it will be beautiful. Your flowers will be followed by green fruit that are spine-free. The skin will slowly change from green to pink, yellow or red when ripening – depending on the variety as some ripe fruit can carry any of the colors listed above. Now comes the most rewarding part of the pitahaya experience – harvesttime!

The possessions on which we place the greatest value in this life usually come at greater cost or expense – that dream car, your perfect home, the job of a lifetime you climbed ladder after ladder to get to… I say all that to encourage you. Like I’d mentioned before, cactus plants have their own line of defense, especially some of our family’s favorites like opuntia and Peruvian apple. Their defense is wrought with spines and glochids that can prove painful and annoying to deal with if they get hooked into your skin but what they protect is worth the trouble and I believe they are treasures we should all the luxury of enjoying so come harvesttime, do not be daunted. I’m not saying you should be prepared for pain. I’m imploring you to be prepared so you won’t have to encounter pain because it is a very real risk. Ensure you have, thick, rubber gloves just for use with your cactus plants before tackling the establishment or maintenance of a cactus pot or garden. Do not use the gloves for any other activities. Always store them away from common areas, especially if you have children or pets that aren’t immersed in water.

Fortunately, the dragon fruit only has a few spines along the stems of the plant. There are none on the fruit themselves so you can remove and store your gloves immediately after harvesting. Now comes the fun part! The fruit is crunchy but juicy like a freshly picked watermelon but with more density and a generous distribution of seeds reminiscent of the kiwi seeds’ faultless crunch! The easiest way to enjoy it is to cut your dragon fruit into quarters vertically and peel back the skin. They separate from the fruit almost effortlessly.

USES & BENEFITS

Don’t underestimate your hylocereus. It is very versatile so don’t be afraid to experiment with juices, punch, sherbet, sauces, pastries, salads teas, and so much more… AND you can do it with a clear conscience. Dragon fruit is entirely wholesome. It means your body no harm in any way. Dragon fruit are some of the richest sources of Vitamin C, that help to lower cholesterol, boost the immune system, prevent cancer and heart disease, aid in weight loss, improve digestion, boost energy, defend against bacteria and fungi, and help in the overall functioning of the body’s systems. They contain no cholesterol and almost no unhealthy, cholesterol-producing fats. They can reduce your chances of conditions like constipation, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, and diseases like colorectal cancer. Carotene is another component of dragon fruits, and carotene has been linked to a number of anti-carcinogenic qualities, as well as reducing the size of tumors (OrganicFacts). They help maintain healthy teeth, hair, bones, skin and so much more and can also help you nullify stress. If you’re pregnant, worry not. My doctor allowed me to eat as much dragon fruit as I liked (and Lord knows there wasn’t much I liked besides dragon fruit) while I was pregnant with my daughter. Studies have found no harmful substances in dragon fruit, not even for women who are pregnant or nursing. There is no loss or trade. You don’t have to give up something ot enjoy dragon fruit. It’s delicious and refreshing and perfectly low-calorie and the few calories it has are all god for you… so dive in and I hope you enjoy the journey to discovery as much as I have.

God bless you! If you have any questions, concerns or comments, please feel free to share them with us. We love when you share your experiences with us! Enjoy!