Opuntia ficus-indica – Barbary Fig
Scientific Name: Opuntia ficus-indica
Synonyms: Cactus ficus-indica, Opuntia compressa, O. opuntia, O. vulgaris
Common Names: Barbary Fig, Indian Fig, Tuna Cactus, Nopal de Castilla
Growth Habit: Tree, Shrub, Cactus
Arizona Native Status: Introduced. This commonly cultivated food and landscaping plant is native to Mexico, but it has become naturalized here, especially in the Tucson area.
Flower Color: Yellow, Orange
Flowering Season: Spring
Height: To 10 feet (3 m) tall
Description: The flowers have showy yellow or orange tepals, pale green or pale pink anther filaments, and a whitish, greenish, or pale pink style. The flowers are followed by large, juicy, edible fruit known as "tunas". The fruits are barrel-shaped to egg-shaped, up to 4 inches (10 cm) long, usually spineless, and yellow, orange, or reddish purple in color when ripe. The stem pads are green, plump, flattened, usually spineless, and can be very large, almost 2 feet (60 cm) across.
Edible – The ripe and green fruits and the stem pads are edible. The flowers and the seeds are also edible, but are less used. This cactus has a long history of cultivation in Mexico as a food plant. Make sure that all glochids (sharp micro-spines) are removed before eating these plants. The glochids can become embedded in your tongue, where they are difficult to remove and can cause pain and infection.
Kingdom: Plantae – Plants
Subkingdom: Tracheobionta – Vascular plants
Superdivision: Spermatophyta – Seed plants
Division: Magnoliophyta – Flowering plants
Class: Magnoliopsida – Dicotyledons
Family: Cactaceae – Cactus family
Genus: Opuntia Mill. – pricklypear
Species: Opuntia ficus-indica (L.) Mill. – Barbary fig
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