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Opuntia Ficus Indica

Genus: Opuntia
Species: O. ficu-indica
Family: Cactaceae
Common names: Prickly Pear

Opuntia ficus-indica, also known as Prickly Pear is a species of cactus. It is grown as a fruit crop and very important in agricultural economies. The plant are used as corn and tequila agave in Mexico where it is believed to be the natural habitat.

The most common part used of the plant is the fruit. It is the most widespread of the domesticated cactuses. It grows hroughout arid and semiarid parts of the world.

Medicinal Use:
Besides being used as a hangover cure, O. ficus-indica has various medicinal uses. DNA damage are treated with extracts of the plant and the shoots of the plant contain some mescaline. The extract has become a potential source of raw material for pharmaceutical and functional food industries.

The shoots of O. ficus-indica have been shown to contain at least some mescaline.

General Information:
The fruits flower in three colors: white, red and yellow and are called tunas. The fruit are very sweet, but should be peeled carefully as it has fine thorns. The plant are cultivated for it's fruits in Mexico, Sicily and the coasts of Southern Italy, Algeria, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Chile, Brazil, and northern Africa, as well as in Eritrea and Ethiopia. It grows wild in Sicily and are known as ficodinnia. The fruits are used to produce jams and jellies. In Gagliano Castelferrata, they produce a liquer called Ficodi.

The cactus are just planted and will grow on its own without any irrigation or fertilizer. The plant mature within about two years before harvesting the fruits. The plant are also cultivated as a host for cochineal insects, which produce red and purple dyes.

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