A pitaya (pronounced /p?'ta?.?/) or pitahaya (/?p?t?'ha??/) is the fruit of several cactus species, most importantly of the genus Hylocereus (sweet pitayas). These fruit are commonly known as dragon fruit â€“ cf. Chinese huo lÃ³ng guo ???/??? "fire dragon fruit" and lÃ³ng zhu guo "dragon pearl fruit", or Vietnamese thanh long (green dragon). Other vernacular names are strawberry pear or nanettikafruit. In Mauritius, it is known as "DÃ©bousse-to-fesse" because of its laxative properties. Native to Mexico and Central and South America, the vine-like epiphytic Hylocereus cacti are also cultivated in Southeast Asian countries such as Taiwan, Vietnam, Thailand, the Philippines, Sri Lanka and Malaysia. They are also found in Okinawa, Hawai?i, Israel, northern Australia and southern China. Hylocereus blooms only at night; the large white fragrant flowers of the typical cactusflower shape are among those called "moonflower" or "Queen of the Night". Sweet pitayas have a creamy pulp and a delicate aroma. If not otherwise stated, this article's content refers specifically to the pitayas of Hylocereus species, or "dragon fruit". PurÃ©e and (more rarely) mash are general terms for food, usually vegetables or legumes, that have been ground, pressed, and/or strained to the consistency of a soft paste or thick liquid. PurÃ©es of specific foods are often known by specific names, e.g. mashed potatoes or apple sauce. The term is of French origin, where it meant in Ancient French (13th century) purified or refined. PurÃ©es overlap with other dishes with similar consistency, such as thick soups, creams (crÃ¨mes) and gravies â€” although these terms often imply more complex recipes and cooking processes. Coulis (French for "strained") is a similar but broader term, more commonly used for fruit purÃ©es. The term is not commonly used for paste-like foods prepared from cereal flours, such as gruel or muesli; nor with oily nut pastes, such as peanut butter. The term paste is often used for purÃ©es intended to be used as an ingredient, rather than eaten. PurÃ©es can be made in a blender, or with special implements such as a potato masher, or by forcing the food through a strainer, or simply by crushing the food in a pot. PurÃ©es generally must be cooked, either before or after grinding, in order to improve flavour and texture, remove toxic substances, and/or reduce their water content.