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Prickly Pear Fruit

Prickly Pear Fruit
Photo Information
Copyright: Billy C Banks (K9madtex) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 122 W: 67 N: 278] (1022)
Genre: Plants
Medium: Color
Date Taken: 2007-08-11
Categories: Cacti
Camera: Canon EOS Digital Rebel, Canon EF 180mm f/3.5L Macro USM, Canon 72mm UV Haze
Photo Version: Original Version
Theme(s): Cactus Flowers, Fruits [view contributor(s)]
Date Submitted: 2007-08-12 2:12
Viewed: 3827
Points: 0
[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note
The fruit of the Prickly Pear has begun to turn bright red and make for interesting scenes all around West Texas.

About Prickly Pear

Prickly pear cactus represent about a dozen species of the Opuntia genus (Family Cactaceae) in the North American deserts. All have flat, fleshy pads that look like large leaves. The pads are actually modified branches or stems that serve several functions -- water storage, photosynthesis and flower production. Chollas are also members of the Opuntia genus but have cylindrical, jointed stems rather than flat pads.

Like other cactus, most prickly pears and chollas have large spines -- actually modified leaves -- growing from tubercles -- small, wart-like projections -- on their stems. But members of the Opuntia genus are unique because of their clusters of fine, tiny, barbed spines called glochids. Found just above the cluster of regular spines, glochids are yellow or red in color and detach easily from the pads. Glochids are often difficult to see and more difficult to remove, once lodged in the skin.

The fruits of most prickly pears are edible and sold in stores under the name "tuna." Prickly pear branches (the pads) are also cooked and eaten as a vegetable. They, too, are sold in stores under the name "Nopalito." Because of the glochids, great care is required when harvesting or preparing prickly pear cactus. Both fruits and pads of the prickly pear cactus are rich in slowly absorbed soluble fibers that may help keep blood sugar stable. Prickly Pear Nectar is made with the juice and pulp of the fruits

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To azleader: AmazingK9madtex 1 09-11 16:43
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Very nice documentary capture of prickly pear fruit.

This image and your description of it are particularly meaningful to me...

I was lost without food or water in the Sonoran Desert of Arizona in the heat of summer for a week last year. In no small part I owe my survival because I found and ate prickly pear fruit just like what you have pictured here.

I peeled off the outer skin to eat the fruit. Those little whitish spots around the fruit have hundreds of tiny cilia-like spines that make eating them impossible if they are not removed beforehand. And there are a lot more seeds inside than I wanted to eat. But other than that they are VERY tasty and quite good.

You are right that you have to properly cook the pads to be edible. Ironically, though temperatures were over 100 degrees during the day I did not have anything to make a fire nor did I have a pot to cook the pads in. I tried peeling and eating them raw but it did not work well at all.

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