En EspaŅol

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
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
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

medicinal uses of Rudbeckia triloba
September 16, 2009 - Browneyed Susan, Brown-eyed-Susan, Thin-leaved coneflower, Three-lobed Rudbeckia Rudbeckia triloba L My question relates to the above species. I am doing research on historically medicinal plants...
view the full question and answer

Medicinal plants in North Texas
August 02, 2009 - Hi, I would appreciate some sort of list for medicinal plants in North Tx. I'm a photographer wanting to photograph this type of plant life. Thanks!!
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

Food and medicinal value of Parsley Hawthorn
March 01, 2013 - I have found several sites that talk about how the parsley hawthorn is edible and how the hawthorn berry in general is really great for the heart, but I did not find any mention of this on your info a...
view the full question and answer

Shrub with thorns, black fruit and citrus fragrance in Michigan
September 19, 2014 - I'm not sure that my plant is a native, but I'm hoping to find some answer. There is a small patch of roadside shrubs on my property which I've been unable to identify. They have simple opposite ...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center