Nopal (prickly pear)

Botanical name:  Opuntia

Crown and root system:  This is a cactus that looks similar to the local “kishkashta” sabra.  It has an extensive but non-invasive root system.

Growing regions:  All parts of the country in shady areas.  It also grows in arid land and does not need a great deal of watering.

Ripening date:  In summer it yields pink-red fruit whose shape is reminiscent of pears.

Planting in a container:  May be planted in a container.

Recommended planting season:  All year round.

Good to know:
The young leaves can be eaten and are considered to have powerful medicinal qualities, including reducing cholesterol and blood sugar.  Mexicans eat the leaves fresh, pickled or fried like chips.  They contain only 17 calories per 100 grams, and the many fibers contained in the leaves can quickly contribute to a feeling of satiety that lasts quite a while.