from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. Any of various cacti of the genus Opuntia, especially the prickly pear.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. Opuntia, a genus of cactus that includes such cacti as the prickly pear and xoconostle.


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

Latin (herba) Opūntia, Opuntian (herb), feminine of Opūntius, of Opus, an ancient town of east-central Greece, from Opūs, Opūnt-, Opus, from Greek Opous, Opount-.


  • Another kind of opuntia fruit, this one tastes sour and is used as a seasoning in certain meat stews, especially mole de olla.

    Exotic summer refreshment: a guide to Mexico's tropical fruit

  • It's hard to tell because of the lush growth, but this is actually wall planted with all sorts of horticultural delights: even an opuntia!

    Powell Gardens, part 1 « Sugar Creek Gardens’ Blog

  • Coastal wetlands are also characteristic of this ecoregion, and near the first foothills of the western range there are some arid, rocky scrublands with abrupt relief, where columnar, candelabra and opuntia cacti typically grow.

    Sechura desert

  • Known in English as the "prickly pear" cactus, this member of the opuntia genus produces the vegetable called nopal, sometimes referred to as "cactus paddles" in the Southwestern United States, and the fruit called tuna.

    Cooking with Cactus: Nopales Cactus

  • Halimeda opuntia and Dictyota species occur on the fore reef and the intermediate reef.

    Coral reefs in Florida

  • Turtle looked up at the darkness between the wire lines and clothespins and observed the shadow play of the beavertail opuntia cactus on the sheets and thought perhaps they had, the nopal and she, something in common.

    Their Dogs Came With Them

  • His graying mustache bristled like the spine needles of the opuntia cactus.

    Their Dogs Came With Them

  • LERICI, C.R. and CAPELLA, P. (1976) Caratteri chimici del fico d’lndia (Cactus opuntia).

    Chapter 5

  • When this process is duly effected, the cactus opuntia, or prickly pear, is planted, which hastens the desired event, and has the power to break up the lava, and render it fit for productive purposes.

    The Mirror of Literature, Amusement, and Instruction Volume 20, No. 568, September 29, 1832

  • * _Amphispiza bilineata opuntia_ Burleigh and Lowery.

    Birds from Coahuila, Mexico


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  • Usage/historical note in comment on nopalry. Additionally...

    "Many European nations had successfully obtained the insect's favorite food, the opuntia, and by 1600 the cactus grew wild in Spain and flourished in botanical gardens in Italy, Germany, the Netherlands, and England. But the cochineal insect itself was a different matter."

    Amy Butler Greenfield, <i>A Perfect Red: Empire, Espionage, and the Quest for the Color of Desire</i> (New York: Harper Collins, 2005), 167.

    October 5, 2017