Opuntia ficus-indica (L.) Mill.
Indian Fig Opuntia, Indian Fig, Barbary Fig, Cactus Pear, Spineless Cactus, Prickly Pear, Mission Cactus, Mission Prickly Pear, Smooth Mountain Prickly Pear, Smooth Prickly Pear, Sweet Prickly Pear, Tuberous Prickly Pear, Tuna Cactus
Cactus ficus-indica (basionym), Cactus decumanus, Opuntia amyclaea, Opuntia cordobensis, Opuntia decumana, Opuntia ficus-barbarica, Opuntia gymnocarpa, Opuntia hispanica, Opuntia joconostle, Opuntia maxima, Opuntia megacantha, Opuntia paraguayensis
Opuntia ficus-indica is a slow growing perennial shrub up to 16.5 feet (5 m) high. The root-system spreads horizontally. Stems (cladodes) are very thick, succulent, oblong to spatulate, up to 2 feet (60 cm) long and up to 10 inches (25 cm) wide. The epidermis is very thick and waxy, thus very water repellent and sun reflecting. Flowering occurs on 1-2 year-old cladodes. Flowers open in the late morning. The fruit is succulent, reddish, ellipsoid, up to 3 inches (7.5 cm) long and edible.
How to Grow and Care
Though the large variety of species within the Opuntia genus means different types of prickly pears may need slightly different care, all are desert cacti that need lots of sun, lots of light, and very little water. If you live in a hot, arid area – particularly the American Southwest – these plants can generally be planted outside, left alone, and enjoyed. Though Opuntia will grow just fine in a garden, they can be grown in pots as well.
To repot, ensure the soil is dry, then remove the pot and knock away the old soil. After treating any cuts with fungicide, place the prickly pear in a new pot and backfill it with potting soil. As with a new cutting, make sure not to water a newly repotting prickly pear for a brief period to avoid rotting its roots… – See more at: How to Grow and Care for Opuntia.
Opuntia ficus-indica is a species of cactus that has long been a domesticated crop plant important in agricultural economies throughout arid and semiarid parts of the world. It 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… – See more at: Indian Fig Opuntia – A Fruit and Vegetable Rolled Up into One Plant .
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