Shrubs of Morni: Delicate Prickly Pear

April 29, 2013

Delicate Prickly Pear/ Plains Prickly Pear (Opuntia Macrorrhiza) is a small opuntia with rounded spiny pads and bright yellow flowers. The cactus tolerates drought and grows well in sunny conditions and in a well drained soil. The flowers are 2 to 3 inches in diameter and have 8 to 12 yellow rays with a bushy clump of yellow stamens at the centre. The succulent green pads are 4 to 6 inches  in size, are rounded, jointed and spiny and are actually parts of the stem that have been adapted to store water. The cactus is semi-prostrate and rarely grows beyond 12 to 14 inches in height with a spread of a couple of feet.  It shrivels up during winters and turns green and fleshy with spring and flowers during May-June. The cactus is believed to have originated in the dry areas of the prairies in Mexico and North America. The Native Americans ate its pulpy, showy red fruit and made vegetables from its pads and medicines from its sap. The Spanish traders carried it back home with them on board their ships to prevent scurvy as the fruit was rich in Vitamin C, thereby spreading it to the Mediterranean lands and beyond.

Delicate prickly pear, Chandi-Kotla, Morni-Pinjore -end April (Photo Courtesy Rajesh Pandey)

Delicate prickly pear, Chandi-Kotla, Morni-Pinjore -end April (Photo Courtesy Rajesh Pandey)

Delicate prickly pear, Chandi-Kotla, Morni-Pinjore

Delicate prickly pear, Chandi-Kotla, Morni-Pinjore

 

Filed in: Trees & Shrubs

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An environmental enthusiast who loves tramping through the hills in search of the picturesque.

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