Where To Buy Spineless 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. It is frequently referred to as Opuntiacompressa in older botanical manuals.

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 shrub-like plants in Florida can grow up to 2 meters (6.5 feet) tall.

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.

Growing Conditions

Low Light: Use of Water Sun, Part Shade Required Dry Soil Moisture Drought Conditions: Medium, High Tolerance Comments: For those that like a cactus form, stunning blossoms, and brilliant red fruits in their landscape, the spineless prickly pear is a fantastic choice (tunas). Be careful since, despite the absence of long, sharp spines, the plant’s small glochids (slivers) can be extremely irritating to the skin if not handled properly. In between the glochid “dots,” grab the pads.

How quickly do prickly pears without spines grow?

When the pads are 4 to 8 inches long, harvest them. In the first year, you can anticipate a yield of 2 to 4 pads per plant. A seasoned plant can produce 20 to 40 pads annually. Spring harvesting yields the most tasty and juicy little, immature pads. The pads should be gently cut off at the joint in the middle of the morning to ensure the lowest acid content and sweetest flavor. Every 15 to 30 days, the pads can be picked, but never more than one-third of the plant at once. Pads can be consumed raw, cooked, grilled, or pickled. They resemble okra in texture and flavor and have a crispy exterior.

Two to three years after planting, spineless cactus will begin to produce flowers and fruit. The fruit will bloom in a spectrum of hues before it ripens, including red, yellow, orange, and purple. After any glochids have fallen off, delicately twist the fruit off the pads to collect it. The delightfully sweet fruits have a melon-like flavor. A mature, well-maintained cactus should typically produce up to 200 fruits each year, though productivity can vary widely based on environment, cultivar, and care as with any crop. Fruit that is in good condition can be kept at 68 degrees for up to a month. Fruit that has been harmed or bruised can also be fed to animals; it is a fantastic source of vitamins.

The plants may produce more than 20 tons of dry matter and store 180 tons of water annually per 212 acres if they are produced in the appropriate circumstances and on a wide scale. Furthermore, unlike a lot of other fodder crops, spineless cactus always produce fresh fodder, negating the need for storage. The gathered pads can be diced or sliced into smaller pieces and blended with other animal feed.

What is a prickly pear cactus without spines?

The spineless prickly pear is a kind of evergreen cactus that isn’t armed and dangerous like other prickly pear cacti. An Ellisiana cactus might be the right plant for you if you’re seeking for a succulent that resembles a cactus but lacks long, pointed spines.

The absence of spines is just one of many alluring qualities offered by the plant, according to material on spineless prickly pears. It produces sizable, bright yellow blooms in the summer that draw hummingbirds. Additionally, it makes bright red fruits known as tunas.

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.


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.


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.


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.

Is there a prickly pear without thorns?

Prickly pears without thorns can be found in the wild. However, the plant that the majority of us grow is a hybrid created by Luther Burbank, a breeder from California.

What is the name of the spineless cactus?

The terms “spineless cactus” typically refer to several variations and hybrids of Opuntia with scientific names like O. boldinghii, O. gosseliniana, and O. nuda. Many cactus species, such as Lophophora and Astrophytum, lack obvious spines.

Opuntia species, often known as flat cacti, thornless cacti, and spineless prickly pear cacti, feature distinctive branching pad-like stems that are studded with sharp spines and glochids (barbed bristles). The name comes from the fruit’s appearance, which resembles a pear but is covered in prickles.

By breeding and growing O. ficus-indica and O. tuna, renowned plant breeder Luther Burbank created hybrids in the early 1900s that were meant to increase food production and improve cactus flowers (1).

All of the over 60 types that were created had no spines, which led to the genus of cactus being known as the Spineless Cactus becoming well-known.

How are spineless cacti planted?

Luther Burbank introduced more than 60 different types of spineless cacti between 1907 and 1925. They came in two main varieties: fruiting varieties, grown for their colorful and flavorful prickly pears, and forage varieties, grown for their edible pads (properly called thalli), which could be fed raw to livestock or cooked for human consumption. These hybrids were primarily made from the Indian fig (Opuntia ficus-indica) and Mexican prickly pear (Opuntia tuna) varieties.

The pads should be planted upright, with the lowest part of each pad buried in sandy, well-drained soil. If required, short sticks can be used to support the pads as you firm the ground to keep them in place. Until the pads have established, place them in a warm, sunny location and shield them from extremely hot sunshine. Water the pads just when fresh green growth begins to appear; after that, water very sparingly and deeply, allowing the soil to completely dry between applications. There should be no need for fertilizer. While plants can be kept in containers for approximately a year, they ultimately need to have lots of outside, in-ground area to flourish. Strong frosts have the potential to harm young plants, however established examples are quite cold tolerant.

Wooden skeletons can be used to build houses, make rustic furniture, and create souvenirs like fans and other objects.

  • can be utilized as a source of food and water for poultry and livestock
  • can be used in place of a hot water bottle.
  • being soaked in water, they exude viscous liquid that speeds up the healing of wounds and bruises. They can be split apart and applied as poultices to reduce inflammation.
  • can be utilized to create candles
  • similar to petroleum, can be placed on water to suffocate mosquito larvae (lasts up to a year, according to tests in central Africa, reported in Scientific American, 1911)
  • can be boiled down to create mucilage, or mixed with mortar or whitewash to make it more durable (increases stickiness)
  • similar to how eggplant is fried and cooked
  • are mucilaginous, similar to okra, and when prepared with seafood, pig, and eggs after being boiled with garlic and onions, they can be minced. They can also be spiced with chopped tomatoes, chillies, or coriander.
  • can be pickled using seasonings
  • can be dried and pulped for use later.
  • can be served with lemon juice and eaten cold or raw.
  • can be prepared into preserves like apple butter and jams.
  • can be fermented into a drink called “coloncha” or cooked down into a dark red or black paste called “mile coacha.”
  • can be dried for later use or transformed into flour to make “queso de tuna,” which are tiny sweet cakes.