Most of the time when people talk about red or white dragon fruits, they mean the red or white inside flesh. To tell the difference between the red & white dragon fruits (even before peeling), we can look at their scales, flowers & sometimes branches. Let's have some fun guessing which is which together.

Scales & Skin

If you see that the scales on the dragon fruits are a bit curvy, green & thick, it's more likely that they are red dragon fruits. Have a quick look at this baby right below here:


As you can see, their scales are very curvy like a fishing hook. In some markets, growers beautify these scales by hand-curving each scale. It takes a lot of time but it does help with increasing the appearance and  attraction value.

Red Thai dragon fruit with curved scale | Source

Manually curving the scales also helps them to be a bit thicker & stay in shape better. This prevents the breaking off of the scales during shipping. It's not a big deal for some consumers. But it helps when trading the fruits to more difficult markets. The curviness is sometimes one distinctive way to tell.

A white dragon fruit with broken off scales

What we've noticed, but may not be conclusive yet, is that the white dragon fruit scales are quite wide and thus a bit further apart. The skin of white dragon fruits is usually light bright pink with some bit of brown tint/dots (depending on the harvest time). You can see some examples here:


From the appearance, red dragon fruits tend to have more scale count around the fruit bodies. They are a bit darker & more curvy in some cases. The skin, when very ripe, has a deeper/blackish red color. Some of the scales also have red/purple colors. The El Grullo, named after the town that produces it, has a very unique look–just like the scales of a dragon.


If you see dragon fruits with yellow skin, you'll know even without cutting that the inside is white. Most yellow-skinned ones like Thai Yellow, Ecuador Palora or Israel Yellow have white flesh.

Thai yellow dragon fruit
Yellow Ecuador palora | Source

Here's another difference:

Flower tips

The tips of red dragon fruits almost always have a red/purple-ish colors. The tips of white dragon fruits are usually green/yellow. This is one very accurate way to tell. It also works for other flowering plants like adenium. By looking at the outside tips, we can more or less tell the color of the fruits.



It can be a bit hard to tell just by looking at the branches. Overall, the red-flesh varieties seem to some more thorns on the branches than the white ones. For some red varieties, they have this distinctive shape of a kind of braid or waves. Sin Espinas & Bien Hoa red have this sort of branch shape as you can see below.


Some other red ones have super thorny branches. They hurt pretty bad so be careful or wear gloves when working with your plants:


The white ones have 'milder', less spiky stems:


According to a grower, there may be little clue to tell which variety of dragon fruit it is just by looking at the cutting. A DNA test could give more accurate results. We think, if you play around more with these varieties, you may be able to tell one from another.

And here's the last difference between the red & white:

Anti-oxidants/Sugar content

The deeper/more intense the red color, the more anti-oxidants there are in the fruits. Red dragon fruits therefore tend to have a higher anti-oxidants amount than the white ones. This is great for the skin, the eyes & the blood.

Although the white dragon fruits may be sweet-tasting, their sugar content is usually lower. This makes them a great treat for diabetics. Seoul Kitchen is a good one. They pack a ton of vitamins & fiber without being overly sweet.

In Summary

Feature Red White
Scales More scales, curvy Fewer wide scales
Skin Deep dark red Pinkish
Flowers Red tip Green all the way
Branches Wavy, spiky Fewer thorns
Anti-oxidants More Less
Sugar content Usually more Lower

Hi friends, but please remember these are brief comparison points & not set-in-stone definitions. They may help you with some clues to tell which is which before buying or just have some fun guessing.

A good way to approach this is to explore the countless varieties of dragon fruits there are. Once you're a bit familiar with the different varieties, you can more easily recognize them & play around with them to your own liking.

There may be some other characteristics we haven't mentioned like the twistiness or straightness of the branch, the round/oblong shape of the fruit, the thickness/thinness of the skin, the protective coat on the branches, etc.

Ah and if you have a chance to compare the seeds, the much-bigger seeds are more likely the yellow-skin variety. The other ones have very small seeds. Also, on one last note, dragon fruit seeds don't get broken down by human digestive system. With that said, have fun growing & keep on exploring!

Some red varieties:

  • Lisa
  • Maria Rosa
  • Valdivia Roja
  • El Grullo
  • Tricia
  • Kim Red
  • Sugar Dragon
  • Voodoo Child
  • Bloody Mary

Some white varieties names

  • Seoul Kitchen
  • Vietnam White
  • George White
  • Connie Mayer
  • Bien Hoa White

Purple/magenta dragon fruits

  • American Beauty
  • Physical Graffiti
  • Purple Haze
  • Haley's Comet
  • Cosmic Charlie

Image source

More info here:

He cuts open different red/white varieties here:


Being A Wordsmith

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