Would you like to know if there are cacti in Vietnam? Vietnam is known for its interesting food, scenery, and plants you may not have seen in your home country. But are cacti some of the plants you can find in Vietnam?
Yes, there are cacti in Vietnam. However, cacti aren’t native to Vietnam, as they originally come from South America. Cacti have been imported to Vietnam, and you can now see many cacti, including Pitahayas (dragon fruit) and prickly pears growing wild in some parts of the country.
Are There Cacti Native To Vietnam?
There are no cacti native to Vietnam since all cacti originally come from South and Central America. However, since people started traveling to Vietnam, they brought food and plants from their home countries, and cacti were introduced. Some cacti are more prevalent in Vietnam than others.
Now you can find many types of cacti all over Vietnam. Some provinces have more ideal climates for cacti, which are the dryer, more desert-like regions. Don’t be surprised if you see some familiar-looking cacti on your travels through Vietnam, as they likely are the same plants you have back home.
Why Are There Cacti In Vietnam?
Although cacti plants aren’t native to Vietnam, you can find them across the country. The reason for different cacti in Vietnam is partly because of globalization and partly because of cultivation. Some cacti were brought to Vietnam for their aesthetic nature.
Wealthy Vietnamese would import the cacti on ships to plant in their gardens. Or soldiers would bring some cacti plants or seeds with them when traveling to Vietnam. Not all cacti were purposefully introduced in the country.
Some seeds accidentally made it to Vietnam on ships or clothing and sprouted here. Now, you can see certain cacti growing wild in Vietnam.
Which Cacti Can You Find In Vietnam?
There are many cacti species found in Vietnam. Still, the two most popular species are Dragon Fruits (pitahayas) and Prickly Pears. But, of course, these aren’t the only cacti you can see in the country, and over 1200 species of cacti plants have been introduced in Vietnam.
Other plants you may see growing wild in Vietnam include succulents. While these aren’t cacti, they share similar habitats and traits.
Some succulents that grow wild in Vietnam are Antique Spurge (Euphorbia antiquorum), string of nickels (Dischidia nummularia), wax plants (Hoya pachyclada and Hoya carnosa), and Sweetheart Hoya (Hoya kerrii).
Are Cacti Commercially Farmed In Vietnam?
A few species of cacti are commercially farmed in Vietnam for food production. The provinces with the most cacti farms and cacti, in general, include Binh Dinh, Phu Yen, Binh Thuan, Ninh Thuan, and Khanh Hoa. You may also see cacti growing in other provinces, but these have the most cacti.
These provinces have the best climate for cacti, with hot and arid days and dry, well-draining soil. So, when tourists walk about in these provinces, they will likely come across wild-growing and commercially farmed cacti.
Which Cacti Are Farmed In Vietnam?
The most cultivated cactus in Vietnam is the dragon fruit or pitahaya. Known as Thuanh Long in Vietnamese, dragon fruits are commercially farmed for food production and exports in Vietnam. Most dragon fruit farms are located in Binh Thuan, known as the dragon fruit province.
Although dragon fruits are iconic Asian fruit that many associates with Asia and the tropics, these plants aren’t actually native to Asia. Instead, they come from Mexico and Central America, where they are native and grow wild.
But Vietnam offers the perfect climate and soil type for dragon fruits, so this country has become one of the leading producers of dragon fruits worldwide. In 2013, dragon fruit exports accounted for 55% of Vietnam’s fruit export income.
The country was also the leading producer and exporter of dragon fruit worldwide in the same year. Although dragon fruit isn’t native to Vietnam, they are commercially cultivated in many parts of the country and provide a steady income stream for many.
Dragon fruits are mostly sold as a food source since these fruits are edible, delicious, and packed with vitamin C and other nutrients. People also use dragon fruits to make syrups and other baked goods. Dragon fruits are also sometimes used as natural dyes.
Where Can Tourists See Cacti In Vietnam?
Tourists can see cacti in any of the provinces mentioned above in Vietnam. But if you want to see a great selection of cacti in an enclosed space, head over to The Kingdom of Cacti in Hanoi. Vietnam’s Essence is a cacti greenhouse 50km (32 miles) west of Hanoi in Ba Vi National Park.
Here, you can see more than 1200 species of cacti within the beautiful greenhouse. While not all of these cacti grow wild in Vietnam, they are beautiful and well-maintained. Outside of this greenhouse, you can spot many cacti growing wild and being cultivated.
Visit a dragon fruit farm in Binh Thuan and be amazed at the striking plants, flowers, and fruit.
Can You Buy Dragon Fruit In Vietnam?
Since there are so many dragon fruit farms in Vietnam, it should be no surprise that you can buy them everywhere in the country. Find them at local fruit stalls, supermarkets, and grocery stores. You can also find juice, smoothies, and sorbets made with dragon fruits in Vietnam.
Some supermarkets also have pre-cut dragon fruit pieces, though it might be best to buy the fruit whole and cut it yourself. Cutting and peeling a dragon fruit is easy and fascinating. Dragon fruits are inexpensive in Vietnam, especially when they are in season, and you will find plenty of them wherever you go.
Can You Buy Prickly Pears In Vietnam?
Another cactus you can often see growing wild in Vietnam is the prickly pear. These fruits are also edible, and you may find them at local fruit stalls across the country. Remove their spikes and skins before eating them.
Again, it’s best to buy them whole and prepare them at home to be safe. The equipment used to prepare cut fruits and raw vegetables are often cleaned with tap water which may not accommodate your constitution.
Some restaurants may also serve dishes with prickly pear fruit and prickly pear pads, which are the leaves. However, while you’ll likely find prickly pears to purchase in Vietnam, you won’t find as many prickly pears as dragon fruits.
This is because prickly pears aren’t as common to eat in Vietnam, and they require a lot more preparation.
How Do Vietnamese People Use Cacti?
Since cacti aren’t native to Vietnam, they have limited use in the country. Some cacti are used for natural medicine, like treating wounds and ailments. Still, edible cacti are primarily used for food production. Studies have been conducted to use prickly pear fruits to supplement sheep feed.
The most popular use for cacti is in the food industry. As mentioned, dragon fruits are often eaten and used in other dishes. So are prickly pear fruits and pads and other edible cacti. In addition, cacti often serve as ornamental plants in gardens and homes where the climate is suitable.
Can You Buy Cacti Plants In Vietnam?
You can buy cacti in Vietnam at nurseries. However, most airlines prohibit you from flying with plants as they threaten local plant life and may spread pests and diseases. Fortunately, since cacti aren’t native to Vietnam, you’ll likely find the same plants in other countries.