Opuntia is the name of a genus of edible cactuses originally from the Americas which are now grown world wide both as ornamental plants and as a food source.


Opuntia cactus planted on the grounds of the Toronto Zoo.

The entire opuntia plant is edible, the green parts are usually sold in North America under the name nopales while the fruits are known as prickly pears.

Opuntia fruit slice.

I have never had the opuntia greens since I have no idea how to prepare them, and they are not particularly popular here in Toronto. The fruit is readily available in grocery stores when it is in season and I do like prickly pears in spite of the fact that they have tiny needles all over them and they make peeling them literally a pain.

Prickly pears.

Prickly pears being sold in a grocery store in Toronto.

It is not just us humans who enjoy eating opuntia cactuses, if you are a regular reader of thios blog and followed the links to the instructions how to care for most of the land tortoises mentioned on this blog, you will find that a recurring suggestion is to provide them with opuntia as part of their diet.

Further Readings:

Last updated: June 21, 2015

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