|Opuntia ficus-indica subsp. var.||Indian Fig Opuntia, barbary fig, prickly pear|
|File:Opuntia ficus-indica (Indian Fig) at Secunderabad, AP W IMG 6674.jpg||
Opuntia ficus-indica (Indian Fig Opuntia or barbary fig) is a species of cactus and a long-domesticated crop plant important in agricultural economies throughout arid and semiarid parts of the world. A common English name for the plant and its fruit, is the prickly pear, although this common name has also been applied to other less common Opuntia species.
Fig Opuntia is grown primarily as a fruit crop, but also for the vegetable nopales and other uses. Most culinary references to the "prickly pear" are referring to this species. The name "tuna" is also used for the fruit of this cactus, and for Opuntia in general.
The fruits flower in three distinct colors: white, yellow and red. They first appear in early May through the early summer and ripen from August through October. The fruits are typically eaten, minus the thick outer skin, after chilling in a refrigerator for a few hours. They have a taste similar to a juicy extra sweet watermelon. The bright red/purple, or white/yellowish flesh contains many tiny hard seeds that are usually swallowed, but should be avoided by those who have problems digesting seeds.
|Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture|
Opuntia ficus-indica, Mill. (O. gymnocarpa, A. Web.). Indian Fig. An erect, tree-like plant; reaching the height of 10-15 ft., and with a woody cylindrical trunk: joints (elliptical or oblong, often with bluish bloom, thick, often 18 in. long and one-third as wide: areoles orbicular and sparingly covered with white wool and yellow bristles; spines usually wanting, occasionally 1-2 small weak ones are present: fls. yellow, expanding to 3—4 in. diam.: fr. yellow, with reddish pulp, bristly, 2 in. diam., edible. Mex.— A species widely grown throughout the warm temperate regions of the world. In some regions, escaping from cult., it has become a troublesome weed. Frequently cult, for its fr. under the name of Indian fig.
Pests and diseases
- Prickly pear seller.jpg
The fruits of Opuntia ficus-indica as sold in Morocco.
- Opuntia ficus-indica fruit9.jpg
- Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture, by L. H. Bailey, MacMillan Co., 1963