prickly pear

1. any of numerous cacti of the genus Opuntia, having flattened, usually spiny stem joints, yellow, orange, or reddish flowers, and ovoid, often edible fruit.
2. the usually prickly fruit of such a cactus.
[1605-15]

* * *

Any of a group of flat-stemmed, spiny opuntia cacti (see cactus), native to the Western Hemisphere, or the edible fruit of certain species.

Engelmann prickly pear (Opuntia engelmannii) and beaver tail cactus (O. basilaris) commonly occur in the southwestern U.S. The Indian fig (O. ficus-indica) is an important food in tropical and subtropical countries. Because their stems have a high water content, prickly pears can be used as forage crops and emergency stock feed during drought. Some species are cultivated as ornamentals and valued for their large flowers.

Engelmann prickly pear (Opuntia engelmannii)

Grant Heilman Photography

* * *

cactus
      any member of a genus (Opuntia) of flat-stemmed spiny cacti (family Cactaceae), native to the Western Hemisphere. The name refers to the edible fruit of certain species, especially the Indian fig (O. ficus-indica), which is an important food for many peoples in tropical and subtropical countries. When Opuntia species were first introduced to Australia and southern Africa by early explorers, they prospered; having left behind their natural parasites and competitors, they eventually became pests. In some cases they have been brought under control by introducing moths of the genus Cactoblastis.

      The Indian fig is bushy to treelike, growing to a height of 5.5 metres (18 feet); it bears large yellow flowers, 7.5 to 10 cm (3 to 4 inches) across, followed by white, yellow, or reddish purple fruits. It is widely grown in warmer areas for the fruit and as a forage crop. The hard seeds are used to produce an oil. Because of their high water content, the stems, especially of spineless varieties, are used as emergency stock feed during drought.

 Some Opuntia species are cultivated as ornamentals and are valued for their large flowers. They are easily propagated from stem segments. Two of the best-known species, Engelmann prickly pear (O. engelmannii; see photograph—>) and the beaver tail cactus (O. basilaris), commonly occur in the southwestern United States.
 

* * *


Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Prickly pear — Prickly Prick ly, a. Full of sharp points or prickles; armed or covered with prickles; as, a prickly shrub. [1913 Webster] {Prickly heat} (Med.), a noncontagious cutaneous eruption of red pimples, attended with intense itching and tingling of the …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Prickly Pear — Saltar a navegación, búsqueda Prickly Pear Island, en Antigua (Antigua y Barbuda), es una isla de North Sound, cercana a la costa de Virgin Gorda. Perteneciente al Archipiélago de Anguila, forma parte del sistema de parques de las Islas Vírgenes… …   Wikipedia Español

  • prickly pear — prickly pears N COUNT A prickly pear is a kind of cactus that has round fruit with prickles on. The fruit, which you can eat, is also called a prickly pear …   English dictionary

  • prickly pear — n [U and C] a type of ↑cactus that has yellow flowers and red fruit. The fruit is also called a prickly pear …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • prickly pear — ► NOUN ▪ a cactus with flattened, jointed stems which produces prickly, pear shaped fruits …   English terms dictionary

  • prickly pear — ☆ prickly pear n. 1. a) any of various cactuses (genus Opuntia) having large, flat, oval stem joints and edible fruits: many species have barbed spines b) the pear shaped fruit of such a plant 2. NOPAL …   English World dictionary

  • prickly pear — noun count a plant that grows in the desert, with a fruit that is covered with sharp needles, or the fruit of this plant …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

  • prickly pear — shaped fruit of a kind of cactus …   English contemporary dictionary

  • prickly-pear — figavaisė opuncija statusas T sritis vardynas apibrėžtis Kaktusinių šeimos daržovinis, dekoratyvinis, maistinis, pašarinis, vaisinis, vaistinis augalas (Opuntia ficus indica), paplitęs Meksikoje ir Šiaurės Amerikoje. atitikmenys: lot. Cactus… …   Lithuanian dictionary (lietuvių žodynas)

  • prickly pear — noun 1. cacti having spiny flat joints and oval fruit that is edible in some species; often used as food for stock • Syn: ↑prickly pear cactus • Hypernyms: ↑cactus • Hyponyms: ↑nopal, ↑Opuntia lindheimeri, ↑tuna, ↑ …   Useful english dictionary

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.