Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.

Prickly Pear

Prickly Pear, the popular name of the genus Opuntia, cactuses, numbering over 150 species, native to hot, dry regions from California to Chili. They mostly have jointed, flattened, fleshy stems with minute deciduous leaves, in the axils of which the tufts of spines and the flowers arise. The latter are usually yellow or orange, with indefinite sepals and petals graduating into one another, numerous free included stamens, a single style, and 5 to 7 stigmatic lobes. The fruits are inferior berries, pear-shaped and bearing tufts of small spines. These plants have become naturalised in Southern Europe, North Africa, and the Canaries. T'ney are much used for hedges, and in Mexico for rearing the cochineal insect. Their sweet fruits are refreshingly cool, and sugar is extracted from them.