Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Bloomin' Tuesday Prickly Pears

The Prickly Pear cactus is a common sight here in Tucson. They are a member of the Opuntia genus, which also includes my friend, the bird killing Cholla! The members of this genus are unique because of the second set of tiny barbed spines they have just above the normal spines. These are called glochids and are painful and hard to remove if they get attached to you!

The fruits of the Prickly Pear are edible, as are the pads, and both are sold in supermarkets in this area although everyone seems to have at least one of these in their yard. The fruit is often made into syrups or candy and is quite tasty, but I've never tried eating the pads.

I have several Prickly Pears in my yard- the one in the top picture has long narrow pads. The fruit is almost ripe on this cactus- although the birds have been feasting on it regularly so I am not sure how much will actually end up being harvested

The second picture shows a Prickly Pear with much rounder pads, that is growing through the chain link fence into the alley at the side of my property. I hadn't paid much attention to this cactus, as it is hidden behind the citrus trees, and a bougainvillea but the other day I was surprised to see that there was really more of this cactus outside the fence than inside!

The last picture was another surprise- I was cleaning out another forgotten corner of the yard, behind a big Ocotillo cactus and found this Prickly Pear pad that had fallen from the larger cactus and rooted right where it fell. Notice the two little pads growing out of it! I had heard that they root easily, and I guess they really do!

For more "Bloomin' Tuesday" Posts visit "Ms "Green Thumb" Jeans"


Suzy said...

Your "Blooming Tuesday" posts are always so interesting!
I enjoy learning about the different cactus plants.Do the prickly pears get to be the size of pears we have in the east?

Suzanne said...

I don't know what I'd do if I suddenly had to move to Arizona! I know nothing about cacti and I'm pretty sure my garden would show it! I am learning a lot from you southwestern participants though. I have begun to have an appreciation for cactus plants. The photos that you and others show weekly are really beautiful. I love learning about them and seeing their awesome blossoms! Thanks so much!

Deborah Godin said...

That middle vertical shot with the high thin clouds is stunning!

Jean said...

Very interesting cactus. It is so much fun to learn about these plants. I didn't realize that some cacti are edible. Love the pear photos! Another interesting post! Jean

Anonymous said...

Love the prickly pears, they give the cacti in your garden a bit of color. Do you ever eat them?

JustinB said...

I love the cactus pictures nice!!!!

Laurie and Chris said...

I have seen Prickly Pears in the grocery store but have never seen how they grow. that is pretty neat to see.

Aiyana said...

My Opuntia ficus-indica blew over in one of the recent storms, so I kept a couple of pads that I haven't yet planted. Maybe I should just throw them on the ground near where the old one was, and forget about digging!
Several of my smaller opuntias have ripe fruits now. I was going to make some vinaigrette, but today I am not in the mood. If I don't get at it soon, the birds will take care of it for me.

Anne Fannie said...

Hi Dee, I always enjoy visiting you on Blooming Tuesday. I always enjoy seeing all your beautiful cactus flowers. This prickly pear plant, there is one growing in a field next to my house, I always see the gardeners in the area stopping by and picking them! I don't think I would want to try it! Have you?
Love, Ann

Dee said...

Thans for your comments every one!
Suzy: the fruits are smaller than most pears
Ann: I've made syrup from the fruit, and used it for lemonade blends and I've tried candy, but I've never eaten the pads

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