Thursday, September 13, 2012
"Thornless" Edible Opuntia Cacti
Students and others have told me of picking and eating what LOOKED to be a "thornless" Opuntia paddle-type cactus, only to discover tiny virtually invisible spines called "glochids" embedded in their fingers, lips and tongue....painful indeed, I know from experience! I grow and sell a TRULY spineless form of Opuntia cochenillifera that makes a VERY tiny number of VERY widely spaced glochids as to be meaningless. The differences between the two are easy to detect IF you know what to look for......the one with the hundreds of glochids has paddles that are more rounded at the tip vs. tapered, and has large number of small fleshy appendages on the pads. These pics should help you train your eye. Not only is the flavor and texture of the safe one yummy raw or cooked, it is very nutrition-dense and contain polysaccharides that if eaten daily, can do wonders to help stabilize blood sugar levels.