Book VIII, Chapter XXVI
Of the cactus that bears the fruit called pitahaya.
Translated by Carly Fajardo ’23
Pitahaya is a fruit that is commonly more or less about the size of a closed fist. It grows in very thorny cacti that are impressive to the eye because they are leafless, except for long limbs that serve as branches and leaves; these have four corners, and each limb or branch is longer than a man’s arm, and between each corner runs a groove, and through all the corners and grooves and at intervals there are some fierce and sharp thorns, as long as half a middle finger or longer, arranged three by three and four by four. This fruit called pitahaya grows between these leaves or branches, which are as I have described them; it is very red, like a crimson pink, and its thick skin has what look like scales, although they are not. When the fruit is cut with a knife (and it is easy to cut), inside it is full of grains like a fig; those grains are mixed with a paste or flesh that is the color of fine crimson—all that mixture of the grains and the rest is eaten, and whatever it touches it stains red, like blackberries do, or worse. It is healthy fruit and it tastes good to many, but I would choose many others over it. It does to urine what the prickly pear does, although not as quickly; but after two hours of eating two or three of these, one’s urine comes out blood red. It is not bad or harmful fruit and it is pleasing to the eye. The cacti that bear the pitahayas are green and look very wild and fierce, and the thorns are brownish or white and the fruit is red, like I have said and as I have drawn it here (Illus. 3.a, fig. 9.a). To remove a pitahaya one must have a steady hand and a good knife, because those thorns are dense, thick and many and very sharp. There are other pitahayas, and all of them and the cacti are the same as what is described above, in size and even flavor, except for the color; these others are yellow, with white flesh and black grains, and this type does not affect the urine. I have made ink with the first and written with it, and it is an excellent color between purple and light crimson.
 Also known as dragon fruit, born from cacti of the genus Hylocereus.
Image: Illustration of the pitaya from The Cactaceae: Descriptions and Illustrations of Plants of the Cactus Family published in 1923.