Prickly Pear Cactus

Prickly Pear Cactus

Summary

The fruit of prickly pears, commonly called cactus fruit, cactus fig, Indian fig or tuna in Spanish,is edible, although it has to be peeled carefully to remove the small spines on the outer skin before consumption.

Description

Prickly Pear Cactus cactus represent about a dozen species of the Opunita genus, in the North American deserts. All have flat, fleshy pads that look like large leaves. The fruits of most prickly pears are edible and sold in stores under the name "tuna". Prickly pear branches (the pads) are also cooked and eaten as a vegetable, but can be eaten raw as well. Both fruits and pads of the prickly pear cactus are rich in slowly absorbed soluble fibers that may help keep blood sugar stable.

Habitat

Prickly pear cactus are found in all of the deserts of the American Southwest, with different species having adapted to different locale and elevation ranges. Most require course, well-drained soil in dry, rocky flats or slopes. But some prefer mountain pinyon/juniper forests, while others require steep, rocky slopes in mountain foothills.Prickly pear cactus are found in all of the deserts of the American Southwest, with different species having adapted to different locale and elevation ranges. Most require course, well-drained soil in dry, rocky flats or slopes. But some prefer mountain pinyon/juniper forests, while others require steep, rocky slopes in mountain foothills.