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Prickly Pear Cactus

A couple of weeks ago I took a trip out to Palm Desert and was just amazed at the beauty I found out there.

The cactus to the left is called a Prickly Pear.  This cactus grows in clumps and can be up to 4 feet tall and 5 feet wide.    It has large leaf pads that turn purple in during the dry winter months and are covered with large tan spins.  These pads turn a softer grey blue color during the summer.

It flowers in the late spring, yellow blooms with red centers that get up to 3 inches in diameter.   The Prickly Pear Cactus produces a fruit as well, ranging in color from red to purple.

Purple Prickly Pear is an excellent choice for zero scaping as it is very drought tolerant and needs virtually no water once it is full grown.  Not only that, both the fruit this cactus produces as well as the leafy pads are edible.  The pad of the cactus is known as Nopal and usually served as a vegetable.   The pear or Tuna can be eaten as is or made into a jam or jelly.  You can even find Prickly Pear sorbet and candy.

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