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.
Copyright 2003 Northern Arizona University.
page was authored by Brandy Ciaccio