beavertail cactus


Prickly Pear Cactus

(Genus Opuntia)

Most commonly found in the Southwestern United States and Northwestern Mexico

Identification: This cactus is easily identified by their paddle-like stems called cladodes. The edges and flat surfaces of the cladodes are covered with areoles that have tiny, easily detached spines called glochids. The small size of the glochids do not cause pain but causes irritation and itching. Thus it is commonly used in itching powder. The flowers are usually yellow, occasionally pink, and rarely white. The fragrance is reminiscent to dampened earth.

Culinary: They have very juicy, fleshy fruit called “tunas” that are harvested and turned into syrup, juice, candies, or jellies. The cladodes are harvested and eaten as a fruit.*

Medicinal: After removing the glochids* you can make a poultice of the peeled pads to apply to wounds. Opuntia’s contain the anti-inflamatory agent beta-sitosterol. Studies have shown that it may help with hangovers and lowering blood pressure.

Magical properties: Temporary homes, safety and protection, binding, concealment, to keep things hidden, secrets

*Warnings: Always be careful to remove all the spines before eating or using. Those spines are tiny and easy to detach. They will cause irritation of the skin and aggravate any injuries. Always contact a physician for serious injuries or illnesses.

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