Cacti - Plains Pricklypear

Plains Pricklypear - Opuntia polycantha
Plains Pricklypear - Opuntia polycantha

NPS Photo by Jim Pisarowicz

 
Cactus with large, flattened segments covered in spines, which produces yellow/pink/red flowers and greenish fleshy fruits, called tunas. Once the spines are removed – by roasting, rubbing, or careful plucking – all parts are edible, as both Plains Indians and settlers knew. The paddles may be eaten raw but were most often fried; the fruits may be split, dried, and eaten plain or added to soups or stews, or their sweet juices turned into candies (still popular in the American Southwest.)

Last updated: April 10, 2015

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