|Opuntia littoralis var. vaseyi|
|Genus:|| Opuntia |
Many, see text.
and see text
Opuntia, commonly called prickly pear, is a genus in the cactus family, Cactaceae.Prickly pears are also known as tuna (fruit), sabra, nopal (paddle, plural nopales) from the Nahuatl word nōpalli for the pads, or nostle, from the Nahuatl word nōchtli for the fruit; or paddle cactus. The genus is named for the Ancient Greek city of Opus, where, according to Theophrastus, an edible plant grew and could be propagated by rooting its leaves. The most common culinary species is the Indian fig opuntia (O. ficus-indica).
O. ficus-indica is a large, trunk-forming, segmented cactus that may grow to 5–7 m (16–23 ft) with a crown of possibly 3 m (9.8 ft) in diameter and a trunk diameter of 1 m (3.3 ft). Cladodes (large pads) are green to blue-green, bearing few spines up to 2.5 cm (0.98 in) or may be spineless. Prickly pears typically grow with flat, rounded cladodes (also called platyclades) containing large, smooth, fixed spines and small, hairlike prickles called glochids that readily adhere to skin or hair, then detach from the plant. The flowers are typically large, axillary, solitary, bisexual, and epiperigynous, with a perianth consisting of distinct, spirally arranged tepals and a hypanthium. The stamens are numerous and in spiral or whorled clusters, and the gynoecium has numerous inferior ovaries per carpel. Placentation is parietal, and the fruit is a berry with arillate seeds. Prickly pear species can vary greatly in habit; most are shrubs, but some, such as Opuntia echios of the Galápagos, are trees.
O. ficus-indica thrives in regions with mild winters having a prolonged dry spell followed by hot summers with occasional rain and relatively low humidity. 350–500 mm (14–20 in) provides good growth rates. O. ficus-indica proliferates in various soils ranging from subacid to subalkaline, with clay content not exceeding 15–20% and the soil well-drained. The shallow root system enables the plant to grow in shallow, loose soils, such as on mountain slopes. Opuntia spreads into large clonal colonies, which contribute to its being considered a noxious weed in some places.A mean annual rainfall of
Animals that eat Opuntia include the prickly pear island snail and Cyclura rock iguanas. The fruit are relished by many arid-land animals, chiefly birds, which thus help distribute the seeds. Opuntia pathogens include the sac fungus Colletotrichum coccodes and Sammons' Opuntia virus. The ant Crematogaster opuntiae and the spider Theridion opuntia are named because of their association with prickly pear cactus.
When Carl Linnaeus published Species Plantarum in 1753 – the starting point for modern botanical nomenclature – he placed all the species of cactus known to him in one genus, Cactus. In 1754, the Scottish botanist Philip Miller divided them into several genera, including Opuntia. He distinguished the genus largely on the form of its flowers and fruits.
Considerable variation of taxonomy occurs within Opuntia species, resulting in names being created for variants or subtypes within a species, and use of DNA sequencing to define and isolate various species.
Opuntia hybridizes readily between species.This can make classification difficult, yielding a reticulate phylogeny where different species come together in hybridization. Also, not all species listed here may actually belong in this genus, meaning that Opuntia is not a monophyletic group.
Opuntia also has a tendency for polyploidy. The ancestral diploid state was 2n=22, but many species are hexaploid (6n = 66) or octaploid (8n = 88).
Chollas, now recognized to belong to the distinct genus Cylindropuntia, are distinguished by having cylindrical, rather than flattened, stem segments with large barbed spines. The stem joints of several species, notably the jumping cholla (Cylindropuntia fulgida), are very brittle on young stems, readily breaking off when the barbed spines stick to clothing or animal fur as a method of vegetative reproduction. The barbed spines can remain embedded in the skin, causing discomfort and sometimes injury.
Like most true cactus species, prickly pears are native only to the Americas. Through human actions, they have since been introduced to many other areas of the world.Prickly pear species are found in abundance in Mexico, especially in the central and western regions, and in the Caribbean islands (West Indies). In the United States, prickly pears are native to many areas of the arid, semiarid, and drought-prone Western and South Central United States, including the lower elevations of the Rocky Mountains and southern Great Plains, where species such as Opuntia phaeacantha and Opuntia polyacantha become dominant, and to the desert Southwest, where several types are endemic. Prickly pear cactus is also native to sandy coastal beach scrub environments of the East Coast from Florida to southern Connecticut, where Opuntia humifusa , Opuntia stricta , and Opuntia pusilla, are found from the East Coast south into the Caribbean and the Bahamas. Additionally, the eastern prickly pear is native to the midwestern "sand prairies" nearby major river systems, such as the Mississippi, Illinois, and Ohio rivers. The plant also occurs naturally in hilly areas of southern Illinois, and sandy or rocky areas of northern Illinois.
Opuntia species are the most cold-tolerant of the lowland cacti, extending into western and southern Canada; one subspecies, O. fragilis var. fragilis, has been found growing along the Beatton River in central British Columbia, southwest of Cecil Lake at 56° 17’ N latitude and 120° 39’ W longitude.
Prickly pears also produce a fruit, commonly eaten in Mexico and in the Mediterranean region, known as tuna; it also is used to make aguas frescas .The fruit can be red, wine-red, green, or yellow-orange. In the Galápagos Islands, six different species are found: O. echios, O. galapageia, O. helleri, O. insularis, O. saxicola, and O. megasperma. These species are divided into 14 different varieties; most of these are confined to one or a few islands, so they have been described as "an excellent example of adaptive radiation". On the whole, islands with tall, trunked varieties have giant tortoises, and islands lacking tortoises have low or prostrate forms of Opuntia. Prickly pears are a prime source of food for the common giant tortoises in the Galápagos Islands, so they are important in the food web.
Charles Darwin was the first to note that these cacti have thigmotactic anthers; when the anthers are touched, they curl over, depositing their pollen. This movement can be seen by gently poking the anthers of an open Opuntia flower. The same trait has evolved convergently in other species (e.g. Lophophora ).
The first introduction of prickly pears into Australia is ascribed to Governor Phillip and the earliest colonists in 1788. Brought from Brazil to Sydney, prickly pear grew in Sydney, New South Wales, where they were rediscovered in a farmer's garden in 1839. They appear to have spread from New South Wales and caused great ecological damage in the eastern states. They are also found in the Mediterranean region of Northern Africa, especially in Tunisia, where they grow all over the countryside, and in parts of Southern Europe, especially Spain, where they grow in the east, south-east, and south of the country, and also in Malta, where they grow all over the islands. They can be found in enormous numbers in parts of South Africa, where they were introduced from South America. Prickly pears are considered an invasive species in Australia, Ethiopia, South Africa, and Hawaii, among other locations.
Prickly pears (mostly Opuntia stricta ) were originally imported into Europe during the 1500s 101,000 sq mi (260,000 km2) of farming land into an impenetrable green jungle of prickly pear, in places 20 ft (6.1 m) high. Scores of farmers were driven off their land by what they called the "green hell"; their abandoned homes were crushed under the cactus growth, which advanced at a rate of 1,000,000 acres (4,046.9 km2; 1,562.5 sq mi) per year. In 1919, the Australian federal government established the Commonwealth Prickly Pear Board to coordinate efforts with state governments to eradicate the weed. Early attempts at mechanical removal and poisonous chemicals failed, so in a last resort, biological control was attempted. The moth Cactoblastis cactorum , from South America, whose larvae eat prickly pear, was introduced in 1925 and rapidly reduced the cactus population. The son of the noted entomologist Frederick Parkhurst Dodd, Alan Dodd, was a leading official in combating the prickly pear menace. A memorial hall in Chinchilla, Queensland, commemorates the moth.and Australia in the 18th century for gardens, and were later used as a natural agricultural fencing and in an attempt to establish a cochineal dye industry. In Australia, they quickly became a widespread invasive weed, eventually converting
Natural distribution occurs via consumption and seed dispersal by many animals, including antelopes, nonhuman primates, elephants, birds, and humans.
|Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)|
|Energy||172 kJ (41 kcal)|
|Dietary fiber||3.6 g|
|Vitamin A equiv.|
|†Percentages are roughly approximated using US recommendations for adults. |
Source: USDA Nutrient Database
Raw opuntia leaves are 88% water, 10% carbohydrates, and less than 1% both of protein and fat (table). In a 100-g reference amount, raw leaves provide 41 calories, 17% of the Daily Value (DV) for vitamin C, and 24% DV for magnesium, with no other micronutrients in significant content (table).
The fruit of prickly pears, commonly called cactus fruit, cactus fig, Indianfig, nopales or tuna in Spanish, is edible, although it must be peeled carefully to remove the small spines on the outer skin before consumption. If the outer layer is not properly removed, glochids can be ingested, causing discomfort of the throat, lips, and tongue, as the small spines are easily lodged in the skin. Native Americans like the Tequesta would roll the fruit around in a suitable medium (e.g. grit) to "sand" off the glochids. Alternatively, rotating the fruit in the flame of a campfire or torch has been used to remove the glochids. Today, parthenocarpic (seedless) cultivars are also available.
In Mexico, prickly pears are often used to make appetizers, soups, salads, entrees, vegetable dishes, breads, desserts, beverages, candy, jelly, and drinks.The young stem segments, usually called nopales , are also edible in most species of Opuntia. They are commonly used in Mexican cuisine in dishes such as huevos con nopales (eggs with nopal), or tacos de nopales. Nopales are also an important ingredient in New Mexican cuisine.
Opuntia ficus-indica has been introduced to Europe, and flourishes in areas with a suitable climate, such as the south of France and southern Italy: In Sicily, they are referred to as fichi d'India (Italian literal translation of Indian fig) or ficurinia (Sicilian dialect literal translation of Indian fig). In Sardinia, they are called figumorisca - Moorish figs). They can be found also in the Struma River in Bulgaria, in southern Portugal and Madeira (where they are called tabaibo, figo tuno, or "Indian figs"), in Andalusia, Spain (where they are known as higos chumbos). In Greece, it grows in such places as the Peloponnese region, Ionian Islands, or Crete, and its figs are known as frangosyka (Frankish, i.e. Western European, figs) or pavlosyka (Paul's figs), depending on the region. In Albania, they are called fiq deti translated as 'sea figs', and are present in the south-west shore. The figs are also grown in Cyprus, where they are known as papoutsósyka or babutsa (cactus figs).
The prickly pear also grows widely on the islands of Malta, where it is enjoyed by the Maltese as a typical summer fruit (known as bajtar tax-xewk, literally 'spiny figs'), as well as being used to make the popular liqueur known as bajtra .The prickly pear is so commonly found in the Maltese islands, it is often used as a dividing wall between many of Malta's characteristic terraced fields in place of the usual rubble walls.
The prickly pear was introduced to Eritrea during the period of Italian colonisation between 1890 and 1940. It is locally known there as beles and is abundant during the late summer and early autumn (late July through September). The beles from the holy monastery of Debre Bizen is said to be particularly sweet and juicy. In Libya, it is a popular summer fruit and called by the locals Hindi, which literally means Indian.
In Morocco, Tunisia, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and other parts of the Middle East, prickly pears of the yellow and orange varieties are grown by the side of farms, beside railway tracks and other otherwise noncultivable land. It is sold in summer by street vendors, and is considered a refreshing fruit for that season.
Tungi is the local St. Helenian name for cactus pears. The plants (Indian fig opuntia) were originally brought to the island by the colonial ivory traders from East Africa in the 1850s. Tungi cactus now grows wild in the dry coastal regions of the island. Three principal cultivars of tungi grow on the island: the 'English' with yellow fruit; the 'Madeira' with large red fruit; and the small, firm 'spiny red'.Tungi also gives its name to a local Spirit distilled at The St Helena distillery at Alarm Forest, the most remote distillery in the world, made entirely from the opuntia cactus.
Opuntia contains a range of phytochemicals in variable quantities, such as polyphenols, dietary minerals and betalains.Identified compounds under basic research include gallic acid, vanillic acid and catechins, as examples. The Sicilian prickly pear contains betalain, betanin, and indicaxanthin, with highest levels in their fruits.
In Mexican folk medicine, its pulp and juice are considered treatments for wounds and inflammation of the digestive and urinary tracts,although there is no high-quality evidence for any clinical benefit of using opuntia for these purposes.
Years before modern Western medicine, Native Americans and Mexicans primarily used Opuntia as a coagulant for open wounds, using the pulp of the stem either by splitting the stem or scraping out the pulp.
In one recent study, it was found that Opuntia aided in the prevention or slow down of diabetes, obesity, metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular disease, and some cancers. The results of the group that was taking Opuntia showed a reduction in BMI, body composition, and waist circumference when compared to the placebo group.
Dactylopius coccus is a scale insect from which cochineal dye is derived. D. coccus itself is native to tropical and subtropical South America and Mexico. This insect, a primarily sessile parasite, lives on cacti from the genus Opuntia, feeding on moisture and nutrients in the cactus sap. The insect produces carminic acid, which deters predation by other insects. The carminic acid can be extracted from the insect's body and eggs to make the red dye.
Cochineal is used primarily as a red food colouring and for cosmetics.The cochineal dye was used by the Aztec and Maya peoples of Central and North America, and by the Inca in South America. Produced almost exclusively in Oaxaca, Mexico, by indigenous producers, cochineal became Mexico's second-most valued export after silver. The dyestuff was consumed throughout Europe, and was so highly valued, its price was regularly quoted on the London and Amsterdam Commodity Exchanges.
The biggest producers of cochineal are Peru, the Canary Islands, and Chile. Current health concerns over artificial food additives have renewed the popularity of cochineal dyes, and the increased demand is making cultivation for insect farming an attractive opportunity in other regions, such as in Mexico, where cochineal production had declined again owing to the numerous natural enemies of the scale insect.
Apart from cochineal, the red dye betanin can be extracted from some Opuntia plants themselves.
Cactus is used as a fodder crop for animals in arid and dryland regions.
Bioethanol can be produced from some Opuntia species.
Nopal juice can be used to produce bioplastic.
The coat of arms of Mexico depicts a Mexican golden eagle, perched upon an Opuntia cactus, holding a rattlesnake. According to the official history of Mexico, the coat of arms is inspired by an Aztec legend regarding the founding of Tenochtitlan. The Aztecs, then a nomadic tribe, were wandering throughout Mexico in search of a divine sign to indicate the precise spot upon which they were to build their capital. Their god Huitzilopochtli had commanded them to find an eagle devouring a snake, perched atop a cactus that grew on a rock submerged in a lake. After 200 years of wandering, they found the promised sign on a small island in the swampy Lake Texcoco. There they founded their new capital, Tenochtitlan. The cactus (O. ficus-indica; Nahuatl: tenochtli), full of fruits, is the symbol for the island of Tenochtitlan.
The 1975–1988 version of the emblem of Malta also featured a prickly pear, along with a traditional dgħajsa, a shovel and pitchfork, and the rising sun.
In Arabic, the cactus is called صبار ṣubbār; the related term sabr also translates to "patience" or "tenacity". : צבר) in Hebrew. This cactus is also the origin of the term sabra used to describe a Jew born in Israel. The allusion is to a thorny, spiky skin on the outside, but a soft, sweet interior, suggesting, though the Israeli sabras are rough on the outside, they are sweet and sensitive once one gets to know them.The cactus fig is called tsabar (Hebrew
The prickly pear cactus has been used for centuries both as a food source and a natural fence that keeps in livestock and marks the boundaries of family lands.They are resilient and often grow back following removal.
The cactus lends its name to a song by British jazz/classical group Portico Quartet.[ citation needed ] The song "My Rival", on the album Gaucho by the American jazz-pop group Steely Dan begins with the words, "The wind was driving in my face/The smell of prickly pear."
In the fall of 1961, Cuba had its troops plant an 8-mile (13 km) barrier of Opuntia cactus along the northeastern section of the 28-kilometre (17 mi) fence surrounding the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base to stop Cubans from escaping Cuba to take refuge in the United States. This was dubbed the "Cactus Curtain", an allusion to Europe's Iron Curtain and the Bamboo Curtain in East Asia.
Uruguayan-born footballer Bruno Fornaroli is nicknamed prickly pear due to his sometimes spiky hairstyles.
Nopal (from the Nahuatl word nohpalli[noʔˈpalːi] for the pads of the plant) is a common name in Spanish for Opuntia cacti, as well as for its pads.
Sabra is, among others, an Arabic word and an Anglicised Israeli term. It may refer to:
Opuntia ficus-indica, the prickly pear, is a species of cactus that has long been a domesticated crop plant grown in agricultural economies throughout arid and semiarid parts of the world. Likely having originated in Mexico, O. ficus-indica is the most widespread and most commercially important cactus. Common English names for the plant and its fruit are Indian fig opuntia, Barbary fig, cactus pear, prickly pear, and spineless cactus, among many. In Mexican Spanish, the plant is called nopal, while the fruit is called tuna, names that may be used in American English as culinary terms.
Indian fig is a common name for several plants and may refer to:
Opuntia engelmannii is a prickly pear common across the south-central and Southwestern United States and northern Mexico. It goes by a variety of common names, including cow's tongue cactus, cow tongue prickly pear, desert prickly pear, discus prickly pear, Engelmann's prickly pear, and Texas prickly pear in the US, and nopal, abrojo, joconostle, and vela de coyote in Mexico.
Tungi Spirit is the name given to a distilled product made in Saint Helena from the fruit of the prickly or cactus pear.
Opuntia stricta is a large sized species of cactus that is endemic to the subtropical and tropical coastal areas of the Americas and the Caribbean. Common names include erect prickly pear and nopal estricto (Spanish). The first description as Cactus strictus was published in 1803 by Adrian Hardy Haworth. In 1812 he introduced the species in the genus Opuntia.
Opuntia phaeacantha is a species of prickly pear cactus known by the common names tulip prickly pear and desert prickly pear found across the southwestern United States, lower Great Plains, and northern Mexico. The plant forms dense but localized thickets. Several varieties of this particular species occur, and it also hybridizes easily with other prickly pears, making identification sometimes tricky.
Opuntia monacantha, commonly known as drooping prickly pear, cochineal prickly pear, or Barbary fig, is a species of plant in the family Cactaceae. It is native to Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay and is naturalised in Australia and South Africa. Its natural habitats are subtropical or tropical moist lowland forest and sandy shores.
Cochineal prickly pear is a common name which may refer to several species of cactus in the genus Opuntia including:
Opuntia basilaris, the beavertail cactus or beavertail pricklypear, is a cactus species found in the southwest United States. It occurs mostly in the Mojave, Anza-Borrego, and Colorado Deserts, as well as in the Colorado Plateau and northwest Mexico. It is also found throughout the Grand Canyon and Colorado River region as well as into southern Utah and Nevada, and in the western Arizona regions along the Lower Colorado River Valley.
Opuntia humifusa, commonly known as the devil's-tongue, Eastern prickly pear or Indian fig, is a cactus of the genus Opuntia present in parts of eastern North America.
The cochineal is a scale insect in the suborder Sternorrhyncha, from which the natural dye carmine is derived. A primarily sessile parasite native to tropical and subtropical South America through North America, this insect lives on cacti in the genus Opuntia, feeding on plant moisture and nutrients. The insects are found on the pads of prickly pear cacti, collected by brushing them off the plants, and dried.
Prickly pear may refer to:
Nopalitos is a dish made with diced nopales, the naturally flat stems, called pads, of prickly pear cactus (Opuntia). They are sold fresh, bottled, or canned and less often dried. They have a light, slightly tart flavor, and a crisp, mucilaginous texture. Nopalitos are often eaten with eggs as a breakfast and in salads and soups as lunch and dinner meals.
Opuntia aciculata, also called Chenille pricklypear, old man's whiskers, and cowboy's red whiskers, is a perennial dicot and an attractive ornamental cactus native to Texas. It belongs to the genus Opuntia prickly pear cacti. It is also widespread in Nuevo Leon, Tamaulipas.
Opuntia macrocentra, the long-spined purplish prickly pear or purple pricklypear, is a cactus found in the lower Southwestern United States and Northwestern Mexico. A member of the prickly pear genus, this species of Opuntia is most notable as one of a few cacti that produce a purple pigmentation in the stem. Other common names for this plant include black-spined pricklypear, long-spine prickly pear, purple pricklypear, and redeye prickly pear.
Dactylopius is a genus of insect in the superfamily Coccoidea, the scale insects. It is the only genus in the family Dactylopiidae. These insects are known commonly as cochineals, a name that also specifically refers to the best-known species, the cochineal. The cochineal is an insect of economic and historical importance as a main source of the red dye carmine. It has reportedly been used for this purpose in the Americas since the 10th century. Genus Dactylopius is also important because several species have been used as agents of biological pest control, and because several are known as invasive species.
Opuntia diploursina is a species in the family Cactaceae, that grows near and in Lake Mead National Recreation Area and northward across Nevada's Mormon Mesa, into Utah. This species is a close relative and probable ancestor of Opuntia erinacea, but "...differs in minor spines more closely appressed to pad surface, spines smaller in diameter and more flexible, inter-areolar distance less, upright growth habit, larger fruit with longer, more flexible spines, larger seeds, and diploid chromosome number (2n=22)".
Opuntia trichophora is a species of cactus in the genus Opuntia, more commonly known as prickly pears or nopal. O. trichophora is distributed throughout parts of New Mexico, Colorado, and Utah, and may have disjoint populations in Wyoming, southern Montana, and southern Idaho. Opuntia trichophora is a diploid (2n=22) but has sometimes been treated as a variety of Opuntia polyacantha a tetraploid (2n=44). O. trichophora tends to have longer spines than O. polycantha or O. macrorhiza.