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Texas Prickly Pear, Nopal Prickly Pear, Lindheimer Prickly Pear
Opuntia engelmannii var. lindheimeri (O. lindheimeri)

Texas prickly pear is common in the drier areas of South and Central Texas and Mexico and sparingly in the Trans-Pecos possibly into New Mexico, to an elevation of 4600 feet. It is a thicket-forming and heavy-bodied cactus with a definite cylindrical trunk, and may be erect to 3 1/2 feet, or prostrate. The joints are green to bluish green, obovate to orbicular, sometimes asymmetrical, to 11 inches, flat, waxy, juicy and bearing dense tufts of minute yellow to brown barbed glochids. The spines are usually translucent, yellow or creamy white, sometimes brown or black. Some forms are spineless. Bowl-shaped flowers appear in June and may be red or yellow fading to orange. A particular plant usually produces only one flower color. Its fruit (tuna) is variable in shape and size, ripening from July to September, red to purple with scattered tufts of glochids, a thin skin, thick rind and juicy pulp. Texas prickly pear has been used extensively for food: the tunas are eaten raw or processed into preserves, syrups and fermented juice, tuna cheese (queso al tuna) and a tea to cure gallstones. Commercial alchohol is produced from the sap and the tender young joints are used as poultices to reduce swelling. The juice of the joints is also used in candle making. For cattle food the spines are burned from the joints. The older pads contain oxalic acid and may cause oxalic acid poisoning when eated to excess. Of course many animals and birds feed on the fruit. There is a legend that the coyote brushes the spines off the fruit with his tail before eating it.

Plant Habit or Use: small shrub
medium shrub

Exposure: sun

Flower Color: yellow to orange, or red

Blooming Period: spring

Fruit Characteristics: purple, fleshy

Height: 3 to 9 feet

Width: 5 to 8 feet

Plant Character: evergreen

Heat Tolerance: very high

Water Requirements:

Soil Requirements: acid

USDA Hardiness Zone: 8

Additional Comments:

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