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Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Some Cacti Can Be Grown for Fruit

Nopal fruit or tunas
Q. I would love to put op-a-la-ah (not sure of spelling) cactus. the kind that looks like mickey mouse ears and grow red cactus pears aka prickly pears. several of my neighbors have them. the problem is the tiny stickers on the fruit. I have heard that there is a variety that does not have stickers. please advise me what they are called and where to get them.

A. I am sorry but I could not figure out what cactus you mean. However, I have grown cactus for their fruit. The fruits that we see commercially typically come from Opuntia cactus. These fruits, called tunas in Mexico, are harvested ripe from the pads. Typically we can see both red and yellow or green fruits. If you have the right type of cactus or selection they can get pretty high sugar content.

Dragonfruit orchard in Vietnam
            I don’t know of any totally spineless ones that have good fruit but there are some which are nearly spineless but you still have to prepare them with caution. Wear gloves or use newspaper to protect your hands and use a sharp knife. If you look at the harvested fruit it resembles a barrel in shape.
            The ends of the barrel are cut off and the sharp knife then cuts down the fruit lengthways (barrel end to barrel end) just below the skin of the fruit. The skin is then peeled back exposing the inner pulp. The pulp is full of hard seeds but the pulp is sweet.
            Other cacti can be grown for their fruit as well such as the vine cacti like the pitayas and dragonfruit, some columnar cacti like the cereus.

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