Dragon Fruit Farm – Sepang


I visited a dragon fruit farm today near Sepang, not far from Kuala Lumpur’s International Airport. The farm is called Multi Rich Pitaya, ‘pitaya’ being another name for dragon fruit.


Dragon fruit’s scientific name is hylocereus derived from the Greek word hyle (meaning woody), the Latin word cereus (meaning waxen). Woody and waxen doesn’t sound particularly appetizing but it probably refers to its cactus-like stems rather than the fruit.

The fruit is thought to have originated in Central America and was introduced into Vietnam by French missionaries in the 19th century.  Cultivation has since spread to all corners of the tropical world and some Mediterranean climates like Turkey and Israel, though Vietnam is still the world’s leading exporter.


Types of Dragon Fruit

There are three varieties of dragon fruits grown in Malaysia:

  • Red skin with red flesh.
  • Red skin with white flesh.
  • Yellow skin with grey/white flesh

All varieties have edible black seeds, like kiwi seeds but softer.

The yellow sort is not common in Peninsular Malaysia, though it is grown in Sabah. The white flesh variety is still probably the most common but the red flesh sort are more sought after (and more expensive) as they taste better. The white flesh variety can often be rather bland and disappointing.

Multi Rich Pitaya only grows the red variety.


Uses of Red Dragon Fruit

Best consumed raw, preferably chilled, either by itself or as part of a fruit salad.

Mixes well with plain yogurt to produce a fantastically coloured dessert.

Can also be made into juice, smoothies or sorbets.

They are easy to peel. The skin is inedible but can be processed to make food colouring.


Reputed Health Benefits

  • High fibre content aids digestion and reduces body fat
  • Rich source of vitamin B, C, calcium and phosphorus
  • Improves eyesight
  • Controls hypertension
  • Helps control blood glucose levels in type 2 diabetes sufferers
  • Boosts immune system
  • Improves skin conditions
  • Rich in lycopene, thought to help prevent cancer
  • Helps prevent gout and arthritis
  • Reduces cholesterol
  • Low in calories

If even only half of these claims are true it would seem foolish not to eat it!


Dragon Fruit Flowers

The flowers bloom briefly, for one night only. They are large and attractive flowers with a sweet tropical fragrance when in bloom. Unopened flower buds can be cooked like vegetables. Dried flowers can be processed to make tea.


Multi Rich Pitaya Farm

This farm welcomes visitors. You can wander round the farm and buy some fresh dragon fruit in their basic shop. The ones you can buy here have been allowed to ripen fully on the vine and taste much sweeter than those you find in the supermarket.


They also sell dragon fruit enzyme drink which is a delicious and healthy tonic.


Multi Rich has a family of caged monkeys.  The large male monkey doesn’t look happy in that small cage and it would be better if they were released or rehoused somewhere more suitable.


If you want to visit you can find the contact details and GPS co-ordinates on this photo.

Dragon Air?

Malunggay–Miracle Plant

Malunggay Leaves

We have a miracle tree growing in our garden. In our household we know it by its Filipino name, malunggay but its scientific name is Moringa oleifera.

Malunggay Tree

It is miraculous for two reasons:

  1. It is so easy to grow and it produces vast amounts of edible leaves. If you start with a seed or a small cutting you will soon have a tall slender tree. When it gets too tall for easy harvesting, you just saw off the top,  stick the top in the ground and in no time you have another tree.
  2. The leaves (and the seed pods) are said to have amazing health benefits. According to a Philippine newspaper, the Sun.Star Baguio, these are some of the supposed benefits:

• Gram for gram malunggay contains four times more Vitamin A or beta-carotene than carrots.

• It is also a rich source of vitamin C, many times more than oranges.

• Normally milk is said to be a rich source of calcium but the amount of calcium present in malunggay leaves is way higher than in milk.

• Malunggay leaves are said to contain two times the protein present in milk.

• Bananas are a rich source of potassium. But malunggay leaves contain several times more potassium than bananas.

• Along with potassium, zinc is also found in large quantities in malunggay leaves.

• If malunggay leaves were to be eaten by one and all, the world will be free of anaemia as it contains three times more iron than spinach.

• With all the junk food eaten these days, many people face problems of high cholesterol. Malunggay helps in balancing the cholesterol levels in the body.

• Essential Amino acids are also found in malunggay leaves.

• It is also said to balance sugar levels, hence it is helpful in the fight against diabetes.

• The body’s natural defence mechanism increases with the consumption of malunggay in the daily diet pattern. Since it is an immunity-stimulant, it is prescribed for AIDS afflicted patients.

• Its leaves can be consumed to stimulate metabolism.

• It is also said to have digestive powers.

• It is a nutrition booster and is known to promote a feeling of well-being in people.

• If you are looking for non-sugar based energy, then its leaves is the answer. Thus, it will also help in the weight loss process.

• The cell structure in the body is stimulated by the leaves.

• It is especially useful for lactating mothers. The consumption of the leaves has shown dramatic increase in the quantity of breast milk.

• It is also famous for its anti-bacterial properties.

• The paste of the Leaves is said to beautify the skin and is hence applied by women regularly to their faces as a facial. Leave it on till it dries then wash it off. You will feel your skin to be soft and smooth.

• It protects the liver and kidneys.

• It can also be used as a water purifier.

Studies have shown that malunggay can be used to treat a number of illnesses. Malunggay leaves are good for headache, bleeding from a shallow cut, bacterial and fungal skin complaints, anti-inflammatory gastric ulcers, diarrhoea, and malnutrition. This is one reason why the government has used malunggay in its feeding and nutrition programs.

Internal organs are said to benefit from the vegetable. Malunggay pods are dewormers, good for treating liver and spleen problems, pain of the joints, and malnutrition. Likewise, malunggay seeds treat arthritis, rheumatism, gout, cramp, STD, boils and urinary problems, and is a relaxant for epilepsy.

There have been claims that malunggay can be used to lower blood pressure as well as its being an anti-tumour plant.

Malunggay Leaves

Sounds like we should all be eating it, but what is the best way?

Like many vegetables, nutritional value is highest when consumed raw. The taste is not wonderful, something like grass mixed with raw peas. The best way to consume malunggay raw is probably to liquidize it and mix with a fruit juice, like this guyabano/malunggay concoction:

Guyabano/Malunggay Juice

Most people cook the leaves and use them like spinach. A filipino classic dish is tinola, a chicken stew made with green papaya, ginger and malunggay leaves.

They can be used in western cuisine too. They make a tasty addition to leek and potato soup for example.  They can also be added to pesto sauce.

Our tree does not have any of the long thin seed pods yet but, when it does, there are various spicy Asian curry dishes we can try out.

In the time taken to write this article I have finished the guyabano/malunggay juice and now my stomach is rumbling angrily so I may discovered one of the side-effects!

Health Benefits of Tropical Fruit

Suffering from any ailments? If so, try eating more tropical fruits.

At the Agriculture Heritage Park (Taman Warisan Pertanian) in Putrajaya, Malaysia there is an extensive orchard with a wide variety of tropical fruit trees together with information regarding their supposed health benefits and other uses.

Star Fruit can cure hangovers? Now they tell me!

According to this, mangosteen is the best tasting fruit in the world. I usually end up throwing about half of them away as  they bruise and spoil easily. As for star fruit, the look is better than the taste in my opinion but they seem to have a lot of medicinal benefits.

You don't find many cempedaks in Sainsburys.

Ciku or Sapodila has multiple uses. The fruit is rich in vitamins and anti-oxidants, the seeds when crushed have a diuretic effect and can expel bladder and kidney stones while the bark contains chicle, the main ingredient for chewing gum.

Cempedak is a native Malaysian fruit from the same family as the jackfruit, the main difference being that cempedak grows in bunches whereas jackfruits grow individually. The fruit has medicinal qualities and the tree’s strong timber is used in house and boat-building. Jackfruit timber is used for making furniture and musical instruments.

Pomelos are the largest member of the citrus family and are useful for losing weight as they satisfy hunger and speed up the breakdown of protein and fat. When they are in season you should eat them as often as you can to remain in perfect health.

Rambutan is derived from the Malay word ‘rambut’  meaning hair. I find them very satisfying to peel. Monkeys like them too.

Just about to rain in Putrajaya.

Dragon Fruit have scaly red skin and pink or white flesh with black dots. They are great to look at on the breakfast buffet but the taste usually disappoints (rather bland). But they are high in vitamin C, they can reduce the risk of cancer and treat high blood pressure.

Durian is the most famous of Malaysian fruits due to its powerful aroma, distinctive taste and custardy texture. The famous 19th century naturalist, Alfred Russel Wallace said ‘to eat durian is a new sensation worth a voyage to the East to experience’. I agree with him. I love them but they are not everybody’s cup of tea. As you can see from the photo they grow big  and they sprout from the tree already wrapped in plastic bags because they smell so bad!

Longan, also known as mata kucing or cat eye, contains anti-oxidants and apparently can cure snake bites. Not very useful information unless you happen to be carrying a bunch of longan when you get bitten.

Other fruits featured in the park include guava, which has 3 times more vitamin C than an orange,  vitamin A and B, can help treat type-2 diabetes,  inhibit the growth of cancer cells and is good for anti-aging skin care.

Pandanus relieves wind - hence the name?

Apart from fruit trees, the Agriculture Heritage Park has herbs and spices, rubber trees, oil palms and even a mini rice paddy field.

Lemon Grass (serai) is of course famous for dishes like tom yam soup and rendang. No only does it add a delicious flavour, it can treat headaches, rheumatism, sore joints and urinary problems.

Pandanus or screwpine (pandan wangi) is a common food flavouring and colouring in Malaysian  cuisine. It can help to relieve wind and aids digestion problems.

Citronella (serai wangi) is well known as an insect repellent (especially mosquitoes) but it is also a snake repellent. So rub some of this on your body and you won’t need to carry a bunch of longans with you!  Citronella oil can also relieve abdominal pains.

Java Tea or cat’s whiskers (misai kuching)  is a non-descript sort of herb (looks a bit like mint) but it seems to have miraculous qualities. It is claimed to clean blood, treat kidney stones, lumbago, kidney inflammation, fever, diabetes, high blood pressure and urinary problems.

Another miracle plant apparently is Ylang-Ylang (kenanga) , a vine said to be an antibiotic and antiseptic, good for pimples and matte-face, acts an anti-aging agent, can reduce malarial fever, cure asthma and breathing problems. It smells nice too.

So remember, a durian a day keeps the doctor away. It also keeps everyone else away.

This guy has been eating too many pomelos.