Prickly Pear

The “Prickly Pear” is sun-loving specimen with flat, rounded pads each generously armed with needle-like spines and tiny barbs, known as glochids.  Their ability to reserve water in the driest of habitats is remarkable, and their hardy nature makes them the most cold-tolerant species of all low-land cacti. 

Originally, the Prickly Pear sat alongside most other Cacti in its native land of the Americas, humans introduced them to other areas of the world.  They were most abundant in Mexico, United States and the West Indies, but have now spread pretty much world-wide, where climate permits.

Fruits of the Opuntia are commonly eaten throughout Mexico and many regions of the Mediterranean, here they are known as “tuna”, but they have other names such as “sabra” and “nopal”, depending on where in the world you are.  These fruits are large berries, around the size of kiwi fruits.  Their skins are brightly colored, ranging from red to orange, yellow to green and have a hard, spiked exterior.  Many examples of this juicy and desirable food source are evident throughout market- places in Mexico, where they are peeled, de-spined and eaten.

Information on the Prickly Pear Cactus is courtesy of Unusual Seeds