Sticky Fingers

Friday, May 26, 2006

Opuntia jamaicensis

I'm not even sure that this name is correct but until I know better I will use it. I got some pads of this from a dread somewhere along the road by Sandy Bay in Clarendon and thought that it would be good to have it in the garden.

I thought it was one that would naturally grow upright and branch into a tree-like arrangement, like the others I had seen, but NO! It insists on sprawling around on the ground as it grows and I am wondering what to do with it. I know I can always chop off what I don't want and discard it but I hate to take that approach. These spines are so dangerous, though, that to interfere with it any other way in trying to organise it will just be begging for personal disaster.

The flowers, though, are what I really like and I have been hoping to catch them open for some time now without success - all I kept seeing was the buds or the spent blooms. So finally (although these were beginning to close) I have something to show.

Two flowers open on a pad:

Close-up of one of the flowers:


  • Not sure but this does look like prickley pear cactus. If it is, the pads are supposed to be edible and the purple seed pods that develop after the flowers fade are reported to be good made into jam. I've never tasted either so can't vouch for them. I would imagine getting the smaller spines off of the pads would be quite a challenge.

    By Blogger kerry, at May 26, 2006 9:50 pm  

  • This is a type of prickly pear - there are several species that are known generally by this name. I've never tried the pads or fruit and probably won't because I am not very adventurous with food.

    By Blogger Jade, at May 26, 2006 10:45 pm  

  • Just prune judiciously and plant the pads where they'll look good, or put 2 or 3 in pots to sell or give away. Those heavy neoprene gloves work great for handling prickly pear pads, they're a lot more dexterous than tongs. Chollas pierce them, though.

    By Blogger mjazzguitar, at June 28, 2006 11:21 am  

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