If you’ve never heard of melocactus, don’t worry. Melocactus fruit originates in the tropical regions of Central and South America, and it’s not very common in the US. In fact, few people probably even know it’s edible. But this mesmerizing video may be enough to convince you to try growing your own at home.
@foodwtf Did you know that the #melocactus has edible fruits similar in taste to #dragonfruit ?🤔 In the wild they are frequently eaten by lizards and birds! 🎥 IG: @cultofsun #turkscapcactus #cactus #fruittiktok #cactusaddict ♬ Aesthetic – Tollan Kim
The melocactus fruit is pepper-shaped and has a unique taste. It’s slightly sweet, with citrus-like flavor reminiscent of melon and mango with notes of pineapple and peach. Most people describe it as rather mild, and some think it has a bit of a sour aftertaste. As with most cactus fruits, it’s also pretty healthy, containing vitamin C, antioxidant compounds like polyphenols (which may help reduce inflammation), and vitamin B.
Can you grow melocactus?
Yes, like most cacti and succulents, melocactus can be grown in home gardens. Plant them in well-draining soil and try to keep them in an area with direct sunlight for the best results. Melocactus fruit grows best in a warm climate and must be protected from cold temperatures, especially during the winter. With regular watering and fertilizing, melocactus plants can yield fruits after two to three years of growth.
Melocactus fruit is pretty small, as you can see in the video above, so you’ll probably need to harvest it with tweezers. Online, you’ll find recipes for using it to make jellies or jams, or you can just leave them out for lizards and birds, as many species eat the fruit in the wild.
Melocactus fruit isn’t the only edible cactus
You may not know about melocactus fruit, but how about dragonfruit or prickly pear? More fruits than you may think come from cacti, including:
- Prickly pear cactus: Prickly pear is native to the Americas and its fruit is also referred to as prickly pear. The fruit has a sweet, juicy flesh and is high in fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
- Dragon fruit cactus: Dragonfruit is native to Central and South America and is grown for its tropical-tasting fruit. The fruit has a pink or red skin and white or pink flesh, and some people think it tastes similar watermelon. It’s one of the easiest to recognize.
- Barrel cactus: This cactus is native to the desert regions of North America and also produces sweet, juicy fruit. The fruit has a yellow or orange skin and a soft, edible pulp. It’s a little on the tart side.
- Saguaro cactus (Carnegiea gigantea): This cactus is native to the Sonoran Desert in the southwestern United States and Mexico and is grown for its sweet, edible fruit. The fruit has a red skin and a white, juicy pulp. If you’re in the US Southwest, you may be able to find it in the form of jams or honey from farmers markets or produce stands.