Design of a Dragon Fruit Flower

Have you ever wondered why the dragon fruit flower is designed as such?

The anthers which consist of the yellow pollens are part of the male. 
The greenish portion that resembles a Tillandsia, known as stigma is part of the female.
If the stigma shifts to the centre of the flower, surrounded by anthers, pollen grains will naturally drop on the stigma and fertilization occurs easily.
If the stigma can shift location slightly, there would be no need for insects to handle pollination. 

Yet nature is as such that the male and female are nearby yet not touching.
In fact, the female is taller than the male.
If it is the other way around, pollination would occur easily because pollen grains will drop on the stigma due to wind and gravity.
Now, we need to rely on insects to complete the process of pollination.
What if there are no more insects in the world?
Does it mean we don't deserve to eat fruits without insects?

Flowers often bloom one at a time for a young plant.
The insects' role is not meant for handling cross pollination because even without cross pollination, dragon fruits still form.
So why is the design and location of the stigma and anthers are as such that we need the bugs to transfer the pollens a few centimetres away?

Why does it blooms at night and closes in the morning?

My Conclusion

No night bugs, No pollination, No fruits.
Solution : Hug More Bugs!
Alternative Solution : Always Hand Pollinate.

Previously I hand pollinated using a cotton bud to transfer the pollens to the stigma. 
You could also use a clean paint brush instead of a cotton bud. 

This time around, I just pluck a few anthers and left them on the stigma.
I believe I would see a dragon fruit soon.
But I can't help wonder why the design of the flower is as such.

 I believe Autumn Belle's deduction is correct.
The design is as such in order to reduce the possibility of self pollination.
Although self pollination do produce tasty fruits, the genes of the seeds may not be as healthy as compared to those which are cross pollinated.
Cross pollination would produce better quality seeds and eventually stronger off springs.
Thanks again for offering this suggestion, Autumn Belle.

This is one the fruits produced by the same plant previously.


  1. Beautiful up close shots. I've always wondered why they open at night? But the bugs are plenty and always hanging around....mostly different varieties of bees and bats.....sometimes I find the guys asleep in the flower. It's very cute. I've never thought about hand pollination nor have I ever tried the fruit....but I know it's popular amongst the birds:)

  2. Its such amazing flower though I know very little about it - other than admiring its beautiful fruits when they reach our supermarket shelves though I have not got a clue how to use it in cookery nor have I ever tasted one as they are so expensive. Is it right that they taste alittle like a kwiwi fruit?

  3. That is one huge beautiful flower. Great closeup shots and the information that you provide on pollination. I agree about the insects, we do need them.

  4. I was very curious about this unknown beauty so looked it up on Wikipedia. I found this:

    Pitaya cacti (fruit are commonly known as dragon fruit) flower overnight, usually wilting by the morning. They rely on nocturnal creatures such as bats or moths for fertilization by other pitaya. Self-fertilization will not produce fruit.

    Perhaps you need to use your little cotton bud on a neighboring plants to cross pollinate them both? I hope you eventually get fruit. :-D

  5. Wow, what a beautiful flower.

  6. Georgous photos, thanks for showcasing this delicious fruit and flower. Sometimes we can mimic nature, or help it along, but isnt the design just something brilliant?

  7. I think you drew the right conclusion. Beautiful photos One. I hadn't seen one before.

  8. Great pictures. I always eat dragon fruit but have never seen the plant. Is this the same family as the "Queen of the Night" would you know? I have one and our flowers look suspiciously similar.

  9. What a beautiful flower! Such an informative post.Thank you.

  10. Beautiful flower! Just by looking at the flower, you won't know that it belongs to a very big fruit! All the best in the pollination. Are the flesh white or red variety?
    I have more posts in "kitchen" than in "potted", the reason is I cook everyday but I don't garden everyday! I'm taking it easy on gardening for a while, my knee and back are showing signs of old age! He! He! Got to recharge my batteries! Also love to make you guys hungry!

  11. Rohrerbot, The thought of a bee sleeping in a flower makes me smile. I thought they don't take coffee breaks.

    Rosey, The texture of a dragon fruit is like the kiwi. But the dragon fruit doesn't taste sour. It is sweet. I've to warn you that I've bought dragon fruit from the hypermarket and they tasted bad. Perhaps they were harvested too early.

    Kris, I've eaten dragon fruits from my very own plant before. I can assure you that cross pollination is unnecessary because I only have one plant and the flowers don't bloom simultaneously.

    Veggiegobbler, The flower is kind of unique because of its size.

    Africanaussie, Yes, I agree it is a brilliant design. :) A little complicated to ensure everyone has a role/purpose.

    Missy, You think so too? We need to hug the bugs? Clifford sniffs and steps on them. I think he meant to kiss and hug but...

    Bom, Yes, Queen of the Night is another name. You have one too?

    Lotusleaf, Thanks for coming by.

    Kitchen Flavours, It is red and very sweet. Take care of yourself. You still have a long way to go. :)

  12. So that's what dragonfruit looks like.My first time. I wonder if the white and red flesh dragonfruit has the same flower colour.

  13. You have a good plant in your garden. My plant look the same after a few years.

  14. I'm so glad that Wiki is wrong on this and you enjoy dragon fruit! :-D

  15. The dragonfruit flower is very beautiful. It looks like the night blooming cereus, my favourite flower. Regarding the design of the flower, I guess that cross pollination is preferred in order to produce better offsprings that are more hardy and stand a better chance of survival? Maybe the purpose of this design is to avoid self pollination as much as possible.

  16. Diana/MKG, Good question! I have not seen the flower of the white flesh dragon fruit flower before. I imagine they should be quite similar.

    Rainfield, Dragon fruit plant requires a LOT of fertilizer.

    Kris, Perhaps cross pollination is good for quality seeds but to me, the fruit was still tasty.

    Autumn Belle, You smart gal! You could be right! There are advantages in cross pollination. It must be to produce seeds with strong genes. For us, propagating via stems is a whole lot easier than via seeds. If there are no intervention from human, the birds will eat the fruits and carry the seeds elsewhere producing healthy offsprings. Thanks!!!

  17. Oh, TQVM for the kind mention. It was very sweet of you!

  18. Wow!!! It's a amazing flower.
    Great post.

  19. Excellent photos and a very informative post abt dragon fruit! The flower looks fascinating with that special design nature has for it..is dragon fruit in the same specie as Bunga Bakawali?

  20. Gorgeous flower and photos. It's so interesting to think about why nature designed it the way it is.

  21. geez! What a gigantic flower!

  22. ...and the design is pretty amazing.

  23. Ellada, It'a amazingly big, right?

    P3Chandan, It looks similar to Bunga Bakawali but it is Bunga Pitaya. Bunga Bakawai is Queen of the Night.

    Bom, I made a mistake. It is NOT Queen of the Night.

    Jean, Thanks for agreeing although I 'think' that I 'think' too much.

    Wendy, I thought you might be interested to know that you can make yummy dragon fruit ice cream. I know where to get the recipe. :)

  24. One, i am sorry to be a bit late here. Your post is fascinating, curious and inquisitive, and quite amusing. I hope you don't mind, but I cannot just refrain from correcting a minor thing here: the anther is not the pollen per se, pollen is in the anther. The male flower part is the anther and filament; while the female is the stigma, style and ovary. Autumn Belle is right, cross pollination ensures prolonging strength of the species. Just like in animals, inbreeding is not allowed because recessive traits from male and female parents will be transferred to the offsprings, and will manifest dominantly, in that case this offspring will be weak, diseased, malformed, or just die. So inbreeding is a no-no in nature. In plants also, sometimes the maturity of the male and female parts are not at the same time to ensure the same precautions.

    BTW, i did not know that the flower of a purple dragon fruit is white, thought it is colored also. I am not familiar with the morphology of its inflorescense, and it is very beautiful.

  25. Hi One, this is a very interesting posts with interesting info from our friends. Not aware that that some pollination from the same plant would produce a weaker offspring!

  26. Andrea, Thank you for taking the time to explain and refresh my memory on Biology. It must have been decades ago since I last studied. My mistake was that I focused on the fruits forgetting about the importance of seeds altogether.

    Kitchen Flavours, My focus is to ensure dragon fruits production and your focus is on dragon fruit ice cream production. Neither of us would have thought about seeds production. :)

  27. Andrea, I've rephrased based on your comments. Hope I got it right this time.

  28. That's a gorgeous dragon fruit. Makes me want to head out to the supermarket tomorrow to buy some.

  29. Fascinating and beautiful! I cannot believe you have this growing right outside! I have only seen this flower once or twice in my life. Lovely photos One!

  30. Wonderful post and photographs! Thank you so much!!!

  31. What an interesting flower. I've never seen one of those. Every single plant has something about it that is just so fascinating!

  32. What an amazing post! I only came to know about the dragon fruit recently. Stunning images and glad to know the details now!

  33. Informative as well as great macros. Your post shows that you are a determined fruit grower! Hand-pollinating, and harvesting the fruit of your labour! 'Wah!'is all I can say.



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