Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Tiptoe Through The Tulips: Cacti Opuntia (Prickly Pear)

The prickly pears are in full bloom and are amazingly beautiful. The number of flowers on the plants just blows me away.

The flowers, up close and personal, are suprisingly complex and detailed. They are also bee magnets, and I sure hope they are making phenomenal honey off these types of buggers. I didn't manage to catch a pollen dude in action, but I've seen plenty out in the yard enjoying themselves. These cacti appear to be spineless, but they actually have very small spines that will get a person pretty good if you get too close. Mostly, the spines are just supposed to spontaneously fall off as a mutation that was performed to try and make a desert plant that could be used to feed livestock. I prefer bees in my backyard to cattle, though.

The "pears" are also are pretty nifty looking. Sometimes called "cactus figs", I would suggest being extra careful with the peeling of these before munching down.


Stephanie said...

Yum! -- I think. For some reason I thought my grand parents called them "tuna", you know, like the canned tuna that you make salad with and eat in a sandwich. I think I remember eating them, or at least picking them for someone to eat. Cacti are cool!

Heather said...

I'm afraid to eat these, in case one of them decides to leave a thorn in my mouth. Maybe you can fill me in on proper preparation techniques.

Stephanie said...

I don't think we cooked them. I'll have to ask my mom. If I remember correctly, my grandfather would have us pick them off the plant, and he'd use his pocket knife to remove the thorns, and maybe a skin??? Then we'd just eat them. Out on his farm, he'd eat all kinds of things. They'd tell us not to eat things on our own, only when he said we could because no telling what kind of berry we'd eat! :)