FloraFinder.org
Home   About Us   Want to Help?   FAQ  
Searching   Image Use Biblio

Opuntia ficus-indica

Opuntia ficus-indica (Linnaeus) P. Miller 1768

Cactus ficus-indica Linnaeus 1753

Cactus opuntia Linnaeus 1753

Opuntia vulgaris P. Miller 1768

Platyopuntia vulgaris (P. Miller) F. Ritter 1979

Cactus compressus R. A. Salisbury 1796 (illegitimate name)

Opuntia compressa McBride 1922

Opuntia maxima Salm-Dyck ex A. P. de Candolle 1828

Opuntia cordobensis Spegazzini 1905

Platyopuntia cordobensis (Spegazzini) F. Ritter 1980

Opuntia tuna-blanca Spegazzini 1925

Indian Fig, Indian Fig Prickly Pear, Mission Cactus, Nopal de Castilla, Smooth Mountain Prickly Pear, Smooth Prickly Pear, Tuberous Prickly Pear, Tuna de Castilla, Tuna Mansa

KingdomPlantaePlants, but not fungi, lichens, or algae (from Stearn’s Botanical Latin)
SubkingdomTracheobiontaVascular plants—plants with a “circulatory system” for delivering water and nutrients
DivisionMagnoliophytaFlowering plants, also known as angiosperms
ClassMagnoliopsidaDicotyledons—plants with two initial seed leaves
SubclassCaryophyllidaeCacti, many other succulents, carnivorous plants, and leadworts
OrderCaryophyllalesIncludes cacti, carnations, amaranths, ice plants, and many carnivorous plants
FamilyCactaceaeSucculent (water-storing) plants, often spiny
GenusOpuntiaPrickly pears
Speciesficus-indicaIndian fig

About plant names...

Indian fig is native to central and southern Mexico, but it has long been cultivated and is naturalized in the southern United States, South Africa, Australia, and the Mediterranean. Cultivars are numerous, as these cacti are farmed, trapping water and converting it into biomass better than most plants. These cacti are able to grow “rain roots,” temporary roots that absorb water quickly after rain and wither away afterwards.

Identification: Plants are 3-20' (1-6 m) high, usually smaller and shrublike, sometimes with a central trunk, resembling small trees. Stem segments are oval in shape, variously narrow or wide, tapering at the base, 8-24" (20-60 cm) × 4-10" (10-25 cm) in size. The areoles, or spots that contain small tufts of spines, are ¾-1¾" (2-5 cm) apart; the spines themselves are small or often absent. Flowers are yellow to orange to red, and 1¾-4" (5-10 cm) in diameter. Large, juicy fruits (“tunas”) are up to 4" (10 cm) long, yellow, orange, or reddish purple. They usually lack spines.

Opuntia ficus-indica (Indian Fig, Indian Fig Prickly Pear, Mission Cactus, Nopal de Castilla, Smooth Mountain Prickly Pear, Smooth Prickly Pear, Tuberous Prickly Pear, Tuna de Castilla, Tuna Mansa)

1. Opuntia leucotricha. 2. Opuntia ficus-indica (previously called O. maxima.) 3. Opuntia lasiacantha. 4. Opuntia robusta. From Britton, Nathaniel Lord, Rose, J. N., The Cactaceae: Descriptions and Illustrations of Plants of the Cactus Family, Press of Gibson Brothers, 1919. Drawn by Mary Emily Eaton; scanned by Daniel Schweich.

Edibility: Prickly pear fruits have been eaten by people since ancient times. Most recipes that refer to “prickly pear cactus” refer to Indian figs, which are prized for their sweet, watermelon-like flavor and bright red/purple or white/yellowish color. They are eaten raw, usually with a little lemon juice; used to produce jams and jellies; or to create a Mexican alcoholic beverage called colonche; as well as for liqueurs and margaritas. The fresh flowers are edible. The seeds can be ground into a meal, the pads cooked like beans; even the stems yield an edible gum.

Medical: A study performed by Jeff Wiese, MD; Steve McPherson, MD; Michelle C. Odden, BS; Michael G. Shlipak, MD, MPH at the Health Sciences Center in New Orleans, Louisiana, found that an extract from this plant significantly reduced hangover symptoms from alcohol consumption. Provided, that is, that you have the foresight to take the extract five hours before you drink.

References:

Anderson, Edward F., The Cactus Family, Timber Press, 2001, p. 498

Small, Ernest, North American Cornucopia: Top 100 Indigenous Food Plants, CRC Press, 2014, p. 177

Online References:

Opuntia ficus-indica on Opuntiads of the USA

Opuntia ficus-indica on Wikipedia

Opuntia ficus-indica on Plants for a Future, a resource and information centre for edible and otherwise useful plants

Opuntia ficus-indica on Wikimedia Commons

Opuntia ficus-indica at Southeastern Arizona Wildflowers and the Plants of the Sonoran Desert

Opuntia ficus-indica description by Thomas H. Kent, last updated 18 Oct 2013.

© FloraFinder.org. All rights reserved.


 

Opuntia ficus-indica (Indian Fig, Indian Fig Prickly Pear, Mission Cactus, Nopal de Castilla, Smooth Mountain Prickly Pear, Smooth Prickly Pear, Tuberous Prickly Pear, Tuna de Castilla, Tuna Mansa)

4/6/2011 · Howard Peters Rawlings Conservatory & Botanic Gardens, Druid Hill Park, Baltimore, MD
≈ 9 × 6" (22 × 14 cm)

Opuntia ficus-indica (Indian Fig, Indian Fig Prickly Pear, Mission Cactus, Nopal de Castilla, Smooth Mountain Prickly Pear, Smooth Prickly Pear, Tuberous Prickly Pear, Tuna de Castilla, Tuna Mansa)

4/6/2011 · Howard Peters Rawlings Conservatory & Botanic Gardens, Druid Hill Park, Baltimore, MD
≈ 24 × 16" (62 × 41 cm)

Opuntia ficus-indica (Indian Fig, Indian Fig Prickly Pear, Mission Cactus, Nopal de Castilla, Smooth Mountain Prickly Pear, Smooth Prickly Pear, Tuberous Prickly Pear, Tuna de Castilla, Tuna Mansa)

4/6/2011 · Howard Peters Rawlings Conservatory & Botanic Gardens, Druid Hill Park, Baltimore, MD
≈ 3½ × 2½" (9.8 × 6.6 cm)

Opuntia ficus-indica (Indian Fig, Indian Fig Prickly Pear, Mission Cactus, Nopal de Castilla, Smooth Mountain Prickly Pear, Smooth Prickly Pear, Tuberous Prickly Pear, Tuna de Castilla, Tuna Mansa)

4/6/2011 · Howard Peters Rawlings Conservatory & Botanic Gardens, Druid Hill Park, Baltimore, MD
≈ 31 × 21" (78 × 52 cm)

Opuntia ficus-indica (Indian Fig, Indian Fig Prickly Pear, Mission Cactus, Nopal de Castilla, Smooth Mountain Prickly Pear, Smooth Prickly Pear, Tuberous Prickly Pear, Tuna de Castilla, Tuna Mansa)

4/6/2011 · Howard Peters Rawlings Conservatory & Botanic Gardens, Druid Hill Park, Baltimore, MD
≈ 6 × 9" (15 × 23 cm)

Range:

About this map...