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Prickly Pear (Edible)

Prickly Pear (Edible)

The eastern prickly pear cactus (Opuntia humifusa) is native to the lower 48 states of the United States. It is not only a beautiful plant, but it is also edible, provides food and protection for wildlife and can be used in native landscaping.

This cactus is easy to spot. Like other spiny succulents, the prickly pear has flat, fleshy pads (called cladodes) covered in spiky spines. The prickly pear produces showy yellow flowers.

How to eat a prickly pear

After flowering, a yellow, egg-shaped fruit begins to appear. The fruits are edible and can be eaten raw after removing the skin. Jellies, candies and other sweets are often made from the fruit, while some people also snack on the fleshy pads of the plant.

Prickly pear cactus has been a Mexican and Central American dietary staple for thousands of years. In some parts of the United States, there is a growing interest in eating prickly pear.

There are two edible parts of the prickly pear plant: the pad, or nopal, of the cactus which is often treated as a vegetable, and the pear, or fruit.

What do prickly pears taste like?

The flavor of a cactus pear is sweet, but somewhat bland, similar in flavor to a melon. Despite the name, the fruit is not actually a member of the pear family. It was simply named that because the prickly fruit resembles a pear in size and shape.

 For prickly pear cacti to thrive they need well-drained sandy soil and lots and lots of sun.

Prickly pear 
Planting the prickly pear in a pot is a great idea for this species.

Be sure to wear thick gloves when handling this beautiful cactus. Their thorny spines can grow up to several centimeters.

This plant cannot be sold within the Auckland region so is only avaliable to other areas. 
MPI rules: No person shall sell or offer for sale any Sustained Control Pest Plant within the Auckland region. No person may plant or allow to be planted any Sustained Control Pest Plant (specified below) on or in any land within the Auckland region.
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