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.
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 & attraction value. This is one distinctive way to tell.
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 (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. 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.
Here's another difference:
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 or flowers.
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.
Some other red ones have super thorny branches. They hurt pretty bad so be careful or wear gloves when working with your trees:
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:
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.
|Scales||More scales, curvy||Fewer wide scales|
|Skin||Deep dark red||Pinkish|
|Flowers||Red tip||Green all the way|
|Branches||Wavy, spiky||Fewer thorns|
|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. With that said, have fun & keep on exploring!
Some red varieties:
- Maria Rosa
- Valdivia Roja
- El Grullo
- Kim Red
- Sugar Dragon
- Voodoo Child
- Bloody Mary
Some white varieties names
- Seoul Kitchen
- Vietnam White
- George White
- Connie Mayer
- Bien Hoa White
Some purple/magenta ones
- American Beauty
- Physical Graffiti
- Purple Haze
- Haley's Comet
- Cosmic Charlie
He cuts open different red/white varieties here:
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