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Entry from April 06, 2007
Prickly Pear Cactus (official state plant)

The Texas prickly pear cactus was declared the official plant of Texas in 1995. The plant can be seen throughout southern Texas.

State Symbols - Texas State Library
House Concurrent Resolution No. 44, 74th Legislature, Regular Session (1995)

Texas Prickly Pear
Scientific Name: Opuntia engelmannii var. lindheimeri (Engelm.) B.D. Parfitt & Pinkava
Synonym: Opuntia lindheimeri
Family: Cactaceae Recommended Temperature Zone:
sunset: 8,9, 12-24
USDA: 8-10
Frost Tolerance: 10°F (-12°C)
Sun Exposure: Full sun
Origin: Southern Texas
Growth Habits: Succulent to 6 feet high (1.8 m) or more
Watering Needs: little or no water once established
Propagation: Generally by cuttings

Exotic Veggies
Prickly Pear Cactus
Opuntia species are members of the Cactaceae (cactus) family.

The genus Opuntia includes the prickly pear, bunny ears, and beaver tail cacti. Over a period of several weeks in late spring and early summer, each pad produces several three- to- four- inch wide flowers that bloom in an array of colors, depending on the variety, from subtle to brilliant tones of yellows and oranges, pinks and reds. When the blooms fade, the edible fruits form.

The pads are actually rapidly-growing flattened stems. Depending on the variety, the pads will grow from four to 16 inches long, nine inches wide, and three-quarters of an inch thick. They may be elliptical to oblong in shape, bright green to blue-gray in color, and have a smooth skin. Most of the cultivated ones are spineless, but some have single inch-long white spines. Smaller stickers (glochids), cloaked in deceptively soft-looking fuzzy patches, will penetrate the skin at the slightest touch.

Other names. It is also called cactus pear and Indian fig � �Figadindi� in Italian. The pads are �cladodes� or �nopales” when they�re whole, and �nopalitos� when they�re diced. The fruits are called prickly pears, cactus pears, or �tunas”.

Texas Symbols
Prickly Pear Cactus
(genus Opuntia)
Adopted on May 25, 1995.
Named the state plant in 1995, the Prickly Pear is of the Opuntia genus with many different species native to Texas. While it isn’t a towering behemoth with a man-like appearance, the Prickly Pear is still a distinctive and lovely plant in its own right.

Few plants are as loved and hated as the prickly pear cactus. It’s numerous thorns, both large and small, have made the acquaintance of anyone who has strolled through any open country in Texas. The other side of the coin is their beautiful flowers, their use as food (minus the thorns and cut in strips they taste like green beans), their soil retention and their use as emergency food for cattle (again minus the thorns).
By Raymond H.C.R. No. 44
74R2690 BNL-D

WHEREAS, The State of Texas has traditionally recognized certain terrestrial forms indigenous to the state as official state symbols; and

WHEREAS, The bluebonnet, the pecan tree, and the mockingbird are examples of some natural specimens that serve to symbolize the rich diversity of the plains, forests, skies, and mountains of our vast state; and

WHEREAS, In keeping with this custom, the designation of the prickly pear cactus as the official state plant will provide suitable recognition for this hearty and beautiful denizen of the Texas landscape; and

WHEREAS, A native of the American Southwest and the Sonoran Desert region of Mexico, the prickly pear cactus provided nourishment to the earliest inhabitants of those regions, and both the sweet, fleshy fruit and the broad, flat stems were incorporated into tasty dishes; and

WHEREAS, Tunas, the prickly pear fruit, and nopales, which are made from the stem, have since become staples of the Mexican diet, and their growing popularity in Lone Star cuisine can be attributed to Texans’ appreciation for unusual and distinctive foods; and

WHEREAS, In recent years, the prickly pear cactus has been successfully exported and naturalized to tropical areas around the world, and it has proven to be a popular landscape choice for all who want to have a little bit of Texas in their own backyards; and

WHEREAS, This adaptable plant can survive under many different environmental conditions, and thus can be found from the hill country of Central Texas to the windswept plateaus and arid mountains of West Texas; because it thrives in a harsh climate that few plants can bear, the prickly pear cactus is often grown as forage for cattle and has had a tremendous positive impact on the vital Texas cattle industry; and

WHEREAS, Rugged, versatile, and uniquely beautiful, the prickly pear cactus has made numerous contributions to the landscape, cuisine, and character of the Lone Star State, and thus it is singularly qualified to represent the indomitable and proud Texas spirit as an official state symbol; now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED, That the 74th Legislature of the State of Texas hereby designate the prickly pear cactus as the official state plant of Texas.
House Concurrent Resolution No. 44, 74th Legislature, Regular Session (1995)

(Oxford English Dictionary)
prickly pear, n.
[< PRICKLY adj. + PEAR n. Cf. earlier PRICKLE PEAR n., prickpear n. at PRICK n. Compounds 2.]
Any of various spiny, sometimes tree-sized, cacti of the genus Opuntia (see OPUNTIA n.), having jointed stems that typically have flattened oval segments, and which are cultivated in warm countries for their fruit, as hedging, and (formerly) as host plants for the cochineal insect (also prickly pear cactus, prickly pear tree). Also: the pear-shaped fruit of any of these cacti, which is edible in some kinds.
1696 H. SLOANE Catal. Plantarum in Jamaica 194 Opuntia major… The Prickly Pear-tree. In Jamaica & Caribeis insulis ubique..reperitur.
1725 H. SLOANE Voy. Islands II. p. vi, Tab. VIII Shews..the sort of Prickly Pear, thought in Jamaica to be that particular kind of Opuntia, whereon feeds the small Worm or Beatle, from whence comes in Cochineel.

14 November 1888, Bismarck (ND) Daily Tribune, pg. 3:
Such feed consists of alfalfa, sorghum bay, Johnson and other varieties of farm grasses, oil cake, roots, etc., while in parts of western and southern Texas prickly pear is species of cactis is being largely used with cotton seed meal or oil cake, with which it is claimed cattle may be easily fattened.

Posted by Barry Popik
Texas (Lone Star State Dictionary) • (0) Comments • Friday, April 06, 2007 • Permalink