En Español

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Friday - December 23, 2005

From: Roswell, NM
Region: Southwest
Topic: Medicinal Plants
Title: Dumb question about prickly pear
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

This is probably a really dumb question but I am interested in picking the prickly pear next year when it is in season, and was wondering the best way to get all of the little stickers off of the pear. Also, what is the best way to use them for medicinal purposes. Thank you.

ANSWER:

The easiest way to remove the small fine stickers (called glochids) is to burn them off. The Spring 2005 issue of our magazine, Native Plants has a "How to" article describing the process. We recommend using a kitchen propane torch, the kind you use for making Creme Brulee, for the glochids and using a paring knife to remove the larger thorns. It would also be possible to remove the glochids using the flame on your gas cooking top. Spear the prickly pear fruit (called a tuna) on a barbecue fork and rotate it over the flame until the glochids have burned off. (From painful personal experience I can tell you this doesn't work over a candle. The flame is not hot enough to successfully burn off all the glochids.)

An article from Gourmet Sleuth describes a method for removing the spines from the the tunas and the nopalitos (the cactus pads) that doesn't involve flames. Their method is to peel them—very carefully, of course. This page also talks about the medicinal uses which include lowering LDL cholesterol levels. On the Native American Ethnobotany web page of the University of Michigan you can enter "Opuntia" as the search term and find references to other medicinal and culinary uses for the various parts of the prickly pear cactus.
 

More Medicinal Plants Questions

How to grow Blue Cohosh in Lewisville TX
May 05, 2010 - I bought Blue Cohosh seeds from an online website, but I do not know how or where to plant them and what will guarantee germination, and the instructions that came with the package are very vague. The...
view the full question and answer

Texas plants useful to early settlers
June 05, 2012 - I'm working on some interpretation for a prairie heritage trail in SE TX (near Houston). I'd like to know where I can find some good information on plant remedies which might have been used by early...
view the full question and answer

Pictures and information on Scutellaris laterifolia, Blue Skullcap
June 19, 2006 - I am trying to find information on Scutellaria laterifolia (skullcap), of the plant family "labiatea". Do you have any info or pictures? Thanks.
view the full question and answer

Medicinal Yerba de la Negrita (Sphaeralcea coccinea)
June 24, 2009 - When I make my own batch of Yerba de la Negrita how long will it keep in the refrigerator?
view the full question and answer

Information on medicinal plant uses by Dakota Indians
November 29, 2006 - I would like to know what the plants were that were used for medicinal purposes by the plains Indians in the Dakotas. Is there a place/site that I can go to to research the data?
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center