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

Monday - September 26, 2011

From: Boerne, TX
Region: Select Region
Topic: Edible Plants, Cacti and Succulents
Title: What variety of Opuntia is best for eating in Boerne, TX.
Answered by: Jimmy Mills

QUESTION:

Which variety of Opuntia, is best for eating the pads and which are the ones best eaten for fruit?

ANSWER:

Mr. Smarty Plants isn’t aware of any taste tests that have been done, but looking on the web indicates there is still quite a bit of interest in eating Opuntia. It has been a staple of Mexican and Central American diets for thousands of years.

In “Edible and Useful Plants of Texas and the Southwest”, Delena Tull cites Opuntia engelmannii var. engelmannii (Cactus apple) as being the most abundant prickly pear in West Texas. One of the major drawbacks to eating Opuntia is the spines and the glochids, so Opuntia ellisiana (Spineless prickly pear) might be a good choice for pads.

As for fruits, Opuntia ficus-indica has been cultivated for many years for its sweet juicy fruits called tunas. It is not as spiny as some of the other Opuntia species.

The links below have a lot of good information about prickly pears and their use as food.

plantbyplant.com   -good overview of the genus Opuntia.

motherearthnews.com   -a good “how to” for eating cactus along with recipes.

wikihow.com  -more recipes with tips for handling the pads.

wikipedia.org  -history of the use of Opuntia ficus-indica for its fruit.




 

From the Image Gallery


Cactus apple
Opuntia engelmannii

Cactus apple
Opuntia engelmannii

More Cacti and Succulents Questions

Container plant in difficult sun exposure from Leander TX
June 06, 2014 - HELP!!!! I have a large Mexican terracotta pot on my front porch. This awkward area is facing westward, so receives the full dose of Texas sun after about 3 pm onward. Now here's the catch; my fr...
view the full question and answer

Removal of pups from Century Plant after blooming in Prairieville LA
October 03, 2009 - Will the main part of the century plant always die after it grows a stalk? I have babies coming off the base and need to know if I should separate them to keep them alive.
view the full question and answer

Replanting a blue agave in Rio Rancho NM
January 11, 2010 - I have acquired a Blue Agave, approximately 4-5 ft high. It still appears quite healthy. It was used over the holiday season for display purposes in a liquor store. Unfortunately, the root ball has be...
view the full question and answer

When should cochineal bugs be on prickly pear cactus?
January 05, 2012 - I am a fibers artist that would like to harvest the cochineal bugs from the prickly pear cactus. I would like to know what time of year should I expect to find the cochineal bugs around the Austin ar...
view the full question and answer

Native plants for highlights in a cactus garden
March 12, 2008 - Hi, I'm looking for some groundcover (succulents or herbs), shrubs, and other perennials to plant along with the cactuses (20 or so) I got from the CDRI plant sale in Fort Davis. The most important ...
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
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center