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Opuntia: The Prickly Pear Cactus

The Prickly Pear Cactus is a name that represents about a dozen different species of Opuntia genus plants.  They are native to North American deserts and derive their nickname “prickly pear’ from the flat, fleshy, pads that surround their bodies.  Like most Cacti, Prickly Pears have have large spines growing out of their pads and stems.  The fruits which grow on Prickly Pears are edible and often sold under the name “tuna”.  Their pads are also edible and are often stripped of the spines then cooked and eaten as a vegetable.  Most Prickly Pears have yellow, red, or purple flowers.  The cactus vary in height from less than a foot to six or seven feet.  The Prickly Pear is the quintessential cactus.  It is found in deserts throughout North and Central America.  For cactus lovers everywhere the Opuntia represents an essential addition to their garden.



Where to Buy an Opuntia

If you want to add a Prickly Pear cactus to your garden there are several excellent websites offering them for sale. Has various advertisements for Prickly Pear cactus.  Three inch plants beginning at one $1.00; 15 seeds beginning at $2.88.  Shipping NOT included in prices.

Prairie Moon Nursery: Offers Prickly Pear seeds for sale. Packet $2.00; 1/8 Ounce $10.00; 1/4 Ounce $15.00; 1/2 Ounce $25.00; 1 Ounce $40.00

Plant Delights Nursery, Inc.: Offer 3.5 inch plants for sale. Price is $13.00.

Arizona Cactus Sales:  Has a variety of Opuntia is stock.  Prices begin at $20.00.


Why Buy an Opuntia

Opuntia’s make great houseplants and are a stunning addition to any garden.  They sport colorful flowers which look stunning when contrasted against their green skin and imposing spines.  Opuntia not only add wonderful color and beauty to your home or garden they also provide tasty fruit and vegetables.  There are countless recipes out there on the internet providing tips on how to turn the delicious Prickly Pear fruit and pads into a great meal.  A simple Google search will turn up a countless number of tasty treats and ideas.  These plants are also relatively inexpensive.  If you possess a green thumb and want to grow your cactus from seeds you will likely spend less than five dollars even after adding in tax and shipping costs.  Like most Cacti, the Prickly Pear does not require much work beyond the occasional watering and plenty of sunshine.  These are hearty plants, which are made to survive in the harshest of arid environments.  If you love cacti, the Opuntia should definitely be a part of your garden.


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