Plantidote of the Day 2011-06-24
Opuntia ficus-indica or englemannii
Prickly Pear cactus
What would summer be without cactus blossoms? Some of the most beautiful flowers I've ever seen have been growing on gnarled old cacti. The opuntia (I think that's correct, but if not, please feel free to set the record straight) shown above is huge, five or six feet high with branches going off in various directions. It's quite an amazing plant all by itself. But when it flowers, it's truly jaw dropping.
The prickly pear flowers eventually grow into edible fruit. I haven't tried them, but they sound delicious. Maybe someone who's more adventurous can tell us what they taste like. The University of California Small Farms website has a lot more information, including details on medicinal uses.
Readers, please send twig (email@example.com) images and stories for the ongoing Plantidote of the Day series. In exchange, you'll win undying fame in the form of a hat tip! Plants growing in your garden, your house, or neighbor's yard, plants from the forest or farmers' market, plants you preserved, plants you prepared (wine; cider; tea; dried beans), plants you harvested (grains; chanterelles), plants you picked (flowers), plants you dried (herbs), plants you covet or hope to grow someday. Herbal remedies, propagation tips, new varieties, etc.. And if you can, include some solid detail about the plant, too -- a story, the genus and species, or where you got the seeds, or the recipe, or your grandmother gave it to you. Or challenge us with a "Name That Plant" mystery entry ... And please feel free to add corrections and additional information in the comments.
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