En EspaŅol
Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Mr. Smarty Plants - What variety of Opuntia is best for eating in Boerne, TX.

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 Edible Plants Questions

Could hickory leaves be used as seasoning from Waynesboro VA
September 17, 2011 - I have a hickory tree. If I pull a leaf off and rip it then smell, there is a strong wonderful scent of hickory much like when I rip a mint leaf there is a strong smell of mint. So my question is, can...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants wild sweet pea
July 28, 2005 - We were asked if the seed pods of the wild sweet pea are edible. (California)
view the full question and answer

Problems with non-native tomatoes from Spokane WA
August 18, 2012 - I have 2 tomato plants in 1 whiskey barrel, they are in abundance with tomatoes. My problem is when the tomatoes start to ripen, half green & half light red within 1 day the tomatoes are really soft ...
view the full question and answer

Edibility of bur oak (Quercus macrocarpa) acorns
October 24, 2007 - Is the acorn of the Bur Oak edible?
view the full question and answer

Fruit trees from seeds
May 07, 2008 - Will fruit trees (primarily peach) produce fruit if grown from a seed?
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