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The fig tree Barbary or opuntia ficus-indicais a cactus 2 to 5 m high with thorny and flat segments, racket-shaped.
The prickly pear belongs to the Cactaceae family, it is native to Mexico and naturalized in the Mediterranean.
The prickly pear for the little story ...
Is the 16th century that Spanish introduced the prickly pear in the Mediterranean basin. It very quickly became naturalized there ... and even became quite intrusive.
The prickly pear and its health benefits
- The flowers of the prickly pear are astringent and softening : they are used against diarrhea and intestinal irritations. They stop benign hemorrhages.
- Freed from their thorns, the young fleshy stems form a emollient poultice.
Did you know ?
- Internal use:
Infusion of prickly pears: 4 to 15 g of flowering tops in half a liter of boiling water. Drink 2 teaspoons per day, in case of cooling.
Maceration: 30 g per liter of white wine. Leave for 15 days in contact and drink 2 glasses in Bordeaux per day. As tonic.
- External use:
Poultice: grind the flowering tops and apply to the wounds and the bruises.
Growing the prickly pear for its benefits
It is an absolute necessity, the prickly pear needs full sun and a warm exposure. Any poor, deep and well-drained soil, even stony or salty, is suitable for prickly pears.
Take vouchers gloves when you undertake to prune a prickly pear or whenever you wish reap its fruits : its thorns are very fine and formidable! They break extremely easily and stay in the skin.
The prickly pear in a pot?
If you are using a sandy substrate, you can keep a prickly pear in a pot for several years. On the other hand, it is rare for it to bear fruit.
Beware of little animals!
The mealybugs are the worst enemies of the prickly pear. When you see them, remove them manually.
Species and varieties of prickly pears
There are around 200 known species of prickly pears, among them:
- Opuntia robusta : cultivated in Mexico for its fruits.
- Opuntia cochenillifera and Opuntia tuna : used to breed cochineals from which carmine is obtained (red dye used for more than 2000 years).
Fruits and snowshoes can be used.
Make no mistake about it!
It may be called "prickly pear," it has nothing to do with the fig tree. And Barbary - here North Africa - does not represent his homeland. Its harvest is quite delicate. Not because of the thorns of the cactus but of the "glochids (Sort of small barbed spines) gathered in bundles, which dot the surface. They get stuck in the fingers or the palate and it is extremely difficult to dislodge them.
For the picking, use a stick with the end divided into three, the fruit will get stuck there. Then, a quick snap is enough to detach them from their support. It only remains for them roll in the sand or to the brosser very carefully in the sink.
The prickly pear in the kitchen for its benefits
The prickly pear is eaten flood or cooked in jam (mixed with quinces) but also in fruit paste. Fermented, it gives the tequila.
In Mexico, cooked Barbary snowshoes are eaten, cut into strips like green beans.
Nutritional benefits of prickly pear
44 kcal / 100 g. Prickly pears are high in sugars, fiber, potassium, magnesium, iron, copper, and vitamin C.
For the sweet tooth : prickly pear juice, prickly pear and vanilla tart, prickly pear sabayon. The salty beaks can try the scallops on a bed of prickly pears. Here is what to get acquainted with this exotic and very intriguing fruit.
Some synonyms of "prickly pear" to shine in society ...
The fig is also known as "prickly pear cactus", "Mickey's ears".