Prickly Pear Plant
Eastern Prickly Pear, Indian Fig
A native cactus found in parts of eastern North America, Opuntia is one of several New World crops that have been cultivated since the time of the Aztec empire. The fruit, known as tuna, are still extensively grown and consumed today. One source estimates that worldwide commercial production is more than twice that of strawberries, avocados, or apricots!
The vegetative pads, called nopales, are common vegetables in Central America and Mexico. Cooked or eaten raw, the taste is likened to that of green beans.
The juicy and edible red fruits measure from 3–5 cm. As the fruit matures, it changes colour from green to red, and often remains on the cactus until the following spring. There are small, flat, light-colored seeds in each fruit. There are few flowers that can rival the beauty of a prickly pear's bloom, as well.
Hardy prickly pear is a spreading cactus forming 2-6 inch long oval pads. Most varieties are covered in two types of spines; large spines easily recognized from a distance, and smaller needle-like spines called glochids that grow in tufts. Bright yellow flowers occur in late spring or early summer. The pollen is highly desirable to bee populations.
Height at maturity: 8-12"
Spread at maturity: spreading
Hardiness Zones: 4-10
Container Size: no container
Height at time of sale: Sold as a package of 2 pads