Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by Ruby from St. Paul Park . Ruby Wonders, “What is a dragonfruit?” Thanks for WONDERing with us, Ruby!

Humans have told stories about flying, fire-breathing dragons for centuries. They’re one of the fiercest mythical creatures around. So it should come as no surprise that people have also named many other things after the dragon. You’ve probably heard of the dragonfly. And there’s the bearded dragon, of course. But today’s Wonder is one dragon namesake that you may not know about—the dragon fruit!

Do dragon fruits live in dark caves? Do they guard hidden treasure? No, of course not! They’re named after dragons because of the way they look. Dragons are scaly, snake-like creatures that often come in brilliant colors. Most dragon fruits, also called pitayas, are bright red or pink. Less often, their skins are yellow. They also have green, dragon-like scales. 

Where do dragon fruits grow? Dragon fruits grow on a cactus. This plant is called the Honolulu queen. It’s a very unique cactus. Its flowers only open at night! The plant is native to Mexico, Central America, and South America. Today, people all over the world grow Honolulu queen cacti to harvest dragon fruit. 

Cut open a dragon fruit, and you’ll find white pulp with black seeds. The pulp is sweet. Some people compare it to kiwifruit, watermelon, or pears. For that reason, it’s often used in desserts. Sorbet, cheesecake, and pudding are just a few common dishes. Many people also eat dragon fruit by itself.

Is dragon fruit a healthy snack? Definitely. Even though it’s very low-calorie, it contains small amounts of many nutrients. This includes vitamin A, vitamin C, and iron. It also has zinc, fiber, and magnesium. Most people consider dragon fruit to be very healthy.

Even better, dragon fruit is full of antioxidants. That means it can help stop damage to your body’s cells. Experts say dragon fruit can help fight inflammatory conditions, too. That includes arthritis and gout. Dragon fruit may also help control diabetes. That’s because it aids in the growth of pancreatic cells

Would you like to try dragon fruit? You can certainly eat it by itself or in a dessert. But there are plenty of other uses, as well. Some people like to add dragon fruit to their breakfast smoothie. Others like to grill it on skewers or put it in a glass of tea. Some people even pickle the fruit’s skin to eat in a salad!

Dragon fruit may not breathe flames, but its fiery appearance reminds many of the mythical flying beast. It certainly stands out in a grocery store! Have you ever seen a dragon fruit? Have you tasted one? Do you plan to? Dragon fruit can add a colorful touch to anyone’s diet.

Standards: NGSS.LS1.C, NGSS.LS2.A, CCRA.R.4, CCRA.L.3, CCRA.L.6, CCRA.R.1, CCRA.R.2, CCRA.R.10 CCRA.SL.1, CCRA.W.4

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Learn more about a rare medical condition with tomorrow’s Wonder of the Day!