Prickly Pear Cactus

DESCRIPTION: The Prickly Pear Cactus is prevalent throughout the Southwestern United States. It can be found growing in large groups in Texas, Arizona, Utah, and southern California. This cactus thrives in sun and dry soil, in areas of 1,000 to 4,000 feet in elevation. The Prickly Pear can grow up to five feet tall with a spread of 15 feet. It is made up of flat rounded pads with spines of one to two inches in length. This perennial succulent blooms from April to May. The flowers range in color from yellow to pink. The fruit, called tuna, of the Prickly Pear is deep red with little spines on it. The tuna is very sweet and is used to make many delicious treats ranging from jelly to wine. Tuna has also been used as a sweet treat, compatible with diabetes, by Native Americans. This fruit can also be used to create deep red dyes. The seeds of the Prickly Pear, found within the fruit, are tan in color, about four millimeters in diameter and irregular in shape.


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Opuntia phaeacantha
This page was authored by Brandy Ciaccio