Where Can I Buy Prickly Pear Cactus

The Cactaceae (Cactus) family includes the eastern prickly pear. There are around 1,800 species in this family, all native to the New World with the possible exception of one or two. With over 150 species in the genus Opuntia, the prickly pears are regarded as an ancient subgroup of the cactus family. It can be found from New Mexico and Montana east to Florida and Massachusetts, and it has the broadest distribution of any American cactus. Additionally, Ontario has it. Eastern prickly pears can grow in a region in big colonies or as a few lone plants. In earlier botanical texts, it is often identified as Opuntiacompressa.

This species is a typical cactus with a stalk that performs photosynthetic leaf function. Water is also kept in this stem. It can endure the subfreezing conditions of the northern and middle states thanks to specific antifreeze compounds in its cells. The stems, or pads as they are more commonly known, can range in size from 4 to 12 centimeters (1.5 to 5 inches) in width and 5 to 17 centimeters (2 to 7 inches) in length. Pads can be joined in a branching or linear pattern.

Typically, the plants stretch out on the ground and grow little taller than 19 inches (0.5 meters). Some Florida plants are shrub-like and can reach 2 meters (6.5 feet) high.

Areoles, which resemble little dots, are scattered throughout the pads. Each areole has glochids (tiny barbs that hurt and irritate the skin when inserted), and the middle of the areole may or may not have a spine. At the tip of newly formed or actively expanding pads, there may occasionally be a little green structure paired with each areole. These are genuine leaves, but they will soon disappear.

Early summer sees the production of flowers at the ends of the pads. They are typically yellow, although the center of them is frequently crimson to orange east of the Appalachian Mountains and on dunes. In contrast to some other species, including the Indian Fig, Opuntia ficus-indica, the flesh of the reddish fruits is edible but typically not very sweet.

This cactus typically grows on calcareous rock or thin soil in wide-open, arid environments. It grows in or on fencerows, roadsides, prairie, rocky glades, rock outcrops, cliffs, abandoned quarries, and dunes. Well-drained grounds are essential since the roots need to remain dry during the winter to avoid decay.

Do they sell prickly pears at Trader Joe’s?

Here in the Sonoran Desert, I’m sharing a delicious prickly pear margarita recipe with you today.

Since I’m not a “desert rat,” this recipe required some trial and error. However, I was able to learn where to select the fruit (you shouldn’t pick it along the side of the road), how to handle it, and what the flavors are with the assistance of my neighbor.

This gorgeous, strong crimson margarita I made looks gorgeous and tastes fantastic!

Prickly Pear Margaritas A Sonoran Desert Recipe

Opuntia cactus produces a particular variety of cactus fruit known as prickly pears. Where I live in Arizona, it’s nearly everywhere, and is almost seen as a weed. Although I had never tried it before moving to Arizona, it is reportedly available at supermarkets like Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods. If you can’t get prickly pear fruit to make your own, you can substitute prickly pear syrup, which I also discovered online, in your recipe.

As a family, we first went out early in the morning to get some wild prickly pear fruit.

Prickly Pear Fun Facts

The cactus has many spines, and even the fruit contains microscopic hairs that resemble thorns. We picked the fruit with tongs and put it in a pail. For kids who have to come very close to the cactus to access some of the fruit, long pants and shirts are a smart idea. To remove the rogue thorns that are certain to get stuck in at least one person, it is always a good idea to bring a pair of tweezers with you.

Can prickly pears be grown indoors?

Opuntia species, including prickly pears, are relatively common desert cactus planted as indoor houseplants. They have wide, flat, thick, spine-covered pads on segmented stems that are exceedingly decorative.

Others contain small, hair-like barbs that detach upon contact with the plant, stick in the flesh, and can be challenging to remove, so treat with caution. Some have huge, rounded spines.

The edible, lemon- or plum-shaped prickly pear fruit of several Opuntia species, commonly referred to as “Indian figs,” is becoming into a delicacy in the UK. They are attractive and colorful as well. When fully grown, the meat inside turns orange and the outside turns bright red. When ripe, some types have a yellow outside and a green interior. These are utilized in syrups, preserves, and jellies because they aren’t quite as sweet. However, for plants to grow healthy fruit in the UK, the environment must be ideal.

Cultivation

Prickly pears should be cultivated inside in a conservatory or heated greenhouse with good, all-around lighting, ideally with a south or west facing aspect. In the summer, they require 4-6 hours of direct sunlight.

Although they are not cold- or frost-resistant, they can be brought outside in the summer to a warm, sunny patio. Make sure to bring them inside before the early autumn weather turns chilly.

They require minimum spring and summer temperatures of 18C (65F), however while they are dormant, they prefer colder temperatures of 7-13C (45-55F). Keep them away from radiators, direct heat, draughts, and fans, which can lead to temperature changes.

Prickly pear cactus varieties

Opuntia has more than 200 different species. From low-growing plants that grow to a height of 30 cm (1 foot) to those that can easily reach 5.4 m (18ft).

Opuntia microdasys, sometimes known as bunny ears, is likely the best kind to cultivate at home. Only reaching heights of 30-45cm (12-18in), it has oval pads covered in tufts of tiny, golden spines. But don’t let their diminutive size deceive you; if they get caught in your fingers, these tiny barbs can be just as unpleasant as much larger spines.

Planting prickly pear cacti

They require a compost that is extremely well-drained, just like all other desert cactus, so either add more grit to John Innes Compost or, even better, use a compost that is recommended for cacti and succulents.

To give the compost a natural, finished appearance and to help prevent the plant’s base from lying in wet compost, add a topdressing of gravel, pebbles, or sharp sand on top of the compost.

When working with the plants, be mindful of the spines. It is preferable to wear gloves and wrap a collar made of rolled-up newspaper around the stem when potting up or otherwise moving the plants.

How to care for prickly pear cacti

Many people mistakenly believe that desert cacti don’t require any watering. They can withstand extended droughts by storing water in their stems, but if given enough water, they develop and blossom considerably more effectively. When plants are growing (from March/April to September), water them heavily, but when they are dormant, water them less frequently—once or twice a month may be adequate. Before watering it once more, let the compost somewhat dry out. Never let the pot sit in water; always let the compost drain.

Feed with a balanced liquid feed once a month from late spring to late summer while plants are growing; do not feed in the fall and winter.

Only when it is absolutely necessary, such as when they become very potbound or outgrow their current container, can prickly pears be replanted. Repotting should only be done in late spring or early summer into a larger pot.

Prickly pears are they expensive?

Prickly pears are a fruit that Moroccans both adore and detest! Its name is appropriately given given that it is the cacti plant’s fruit and has a prickly exterior. During your Moroccan road journey, you will see an impressive quantity of these prickly pear cacti almost everywhere if you glance out the window.

Despite what its name in Moroccan Arabic, l’hindia (the Indian Fig), suggests, the prickly pear traveled all the way from Mexico to Morocco in the 1770s. It is currently thriving throughout North Africa and is ingrained in the daily lives of its inhabitants.

Moroccans Love and Hate Eating the Prickly Pear

The prickly pear season starts in the beginning of July. There are now street vendors in every region of the nation, in every town and city, and even on the sides of the motorways and major highways! Prickly pears are peeled and sold for around one dirham each. The majority of individuals consume their prickly find immediately, but some take it home and store it in the refrigerator for later. Its pulp can be used to make jams and spreads, but these products will lack the seeds, which are responsible for half of the fruit’s nutritional content.

Like many wonderful things, prickly pears are best enjoyed in moderation. Depending on your digestive system, eating more than 2-3 of these may cause you to get constipated for days, or the exact opposite issue. Yes, there is love and hate.

The Incredible Health Benefits of the Prickly Pear

A considerable portion of the prickly pear is used to make pharmaceuticals and treatments. Its seeds’ oil is used to treat cancer, type 2 diabetes, and high blood pressure. It has antiviral, antibacterial, and antioxidant properties, soothes ulcers, lowers cholesterol, and combats obesity.

Although eating a lot of prickly pears won’t entirely heal you (as stated in the warning above), the oil they contain may be beneficial to your health and act as a catalyst for change in the way your body heals. It takes a ton of prickly pears to make only one liter of this priceless oil. Because of this, getting one liter costs roughly 10,000 dirhams, or about $800.

The high concentration of vitamins E, A, and C, Omega 6 fatty acids, and magnesium in superfruits is primarily responsible for their therapeutic and cosmetic effects.

The Prickly Pear in Beauty Care

This oil is regarded as a luxury organic skin care treatment and should be kept in a sacred location when used in a beauty regimen. especially while taking into account the cost! Prickly pear seed oil has proven to be quite effective at halting the negative effects of skin aging. Additionally, it is utilized for feeding, mending, and healing the skin, hair, and nails. Omega 6 and Vitamin E, which are highly desired ingredients in organic cosmetics, are abundant in it. In Morocco’s driest regions, Berber women have been utilizing this oil for decades. Many of them attribute the perfect skin they have despite working hard and being exposed to the sun, heat, and humidity to this miraculous oil.

The Prickly Pear Feeds Livestock

Animals can be fed the interior of cactus leaves since it is very affordable and simple to find. This is especially true in dry locations where it is difficult to find other plants and nutrients. Although it is not particularly high in protein, it is quite hydrating, which is very advantageous given that dehydration is a significant factor in animal fatalities during very dry summers.

The Prickly Pear Industry Empowers Women

Many women in various locations of Morocco have turned the laborious and demanding procedure of removing the seeds from the fruits into a business. These women, who are primarily from underprivileged rural areas, have discovered a financially advantageous buddy in the prickly pear. Around $4 is paid to these ladies for each kilogram of collected seeds. This may not seem like much, but for many rural Moroccan women who are trying to support their families or achieve some degree of financial independence, it is a critical amount of money. Therefore, you might respond, “Maybe not… but it kind of grows on cactus,’ the next time someone tells you that money doesn’t grow on trees. At least it does for these devoted Moroccan women.

About the Author

Meknsiya (a native of Mekns, Morocco) Lala Ouazzani enjoys exploring all that her home country has to offer. She has always loved food. Luckily for her, Morocco has a wide variety of mouthwatering foods to try. She loves learning about the history of her nation and sharing what she learns and experiences with as many people as she can. Casablanca serves as Lala’s current home base.

Pruning:

Prickly pears don’t need to be pruned, but they can be trimmed back. To keep the pads’ size and shape, take out individual ones as necessary. Holding the pad in place with tongs, cut it off at the junction or line where it attaches to the following pad. Pads can be calloused off and shared with pals or planted somewhere else. Find out more about propagation below.

Amendments & Fertilizer:

Young plants should be fertilized with a balanced 10-10-10 fertilizer. A water-soluble fertilizer with a ratio of 5-10-10 or even 0-10-10 can encourage more flowers and fruit in established plants. Use a nitrogen-rich fertilizer if you’re growing for the pads.

Watering:

Prickly pears can withstand severe droughts. For the first month, don’t water newly propagated pads. After that, water during the first year every two to four weeks—twice a month in the summer and once a month throughout the other seasons. Rainfall will usually be sufficient to keep established plants alive. When there is a drought, you can supplement with the twice-monthly/once-monthly seasonal schedule.

off a pad pruning, a new prickly pear plant has grown. Selma Jacquet/Alamy Stock Photo provided the image.

Propagation:

Since seeds grow slowly at first, it can take your plant three to four years to begin blooming and bearing fruit. The seeds should be maintained moist until they begin to sprout since they require shade.

Pad propagation is considerably easier and produces results more quickly. This is how:

  • By according to the above pruning rules, you can take off pads that are at least six months old.
  • The cut end of the pads should create a callus if they are left to dry out in a spot with some light shade. This can take two to four weeks in warm, dry weather, but it may take longer under cool or humid conditions. It prevents the new plant from decomposing at the base.
  • Plant pads at a depth of 1 inch in a mixture of half soil and half sand once they have fully calloused over. Your plant could rot if it were buried any deeper.
  • For the first month, don’t water it because the pad already has enough moisture to survive.
  • Until roots develop during the course of the following month, support it with rocks or another type of structure. Your plant should be able to stand on its own after a month, but if it’s still a little unsteady, keep providing support.
  • You can water it at this time and follow the previous watering instructions, just make sure to let it totally dry between waterings.

Flowers and fruit normally start to appear on young plants by the second or third growing pad.