Opuntia ficus-indica, Indian fig opuntia, prickly pear, tuna, 30 fresh seeds
Opuntia ficus-indica, the Indian fig opuntia, fig opuntia, or prickly pear, is a species of cactus that has long been a domesticated crop plant grown in agricultural economies throughout arid and semiarid parts of the world. O. ficus-indica is the most widespread and most commercially important cactus. It is grown primarily as a fruit crop, and also for the vegetable nopales and other uses. Cacti are good crops for dry areas because they efficiently convert water into biomass. Opuntia species hybridize easily, but the wild origin of O. ficus-indica is likely to have been in central Mexico, where its closest genetic relatives are found.
Most culinary references to the "prickly pear" refer to this species. The Spanish name tuna is also used for the fruit of this cactus and for Opuntia in general.
Common English names for the plant and its fruit are Indian fig opuntia, Barbary fig, cactus pear, prickly pear, and spineless cactus, among many others.
A perennial shrub, O. ficus-indica can grow up to 5 m in height, with thick, succulent, and oblong to spatulate stems called cladodes. It has a water-repellent and sun-reflecting waxy epidermis. Cladodes 1–2 years old produce flowers, with the fruit's colours ranging from pale green to deep red.
The plants flower in three distinct colours: white, yellow, and red. The flowers first appear in early May through the early summer in the Northern Hemisphere, and the fruits ripen from August through October. The fruits are typically eaten, minus the thick outer skin, after chilling in a refrigerator for a few hours. They have a taste similar to sweet watermelon. The bright red/purple or white/yellowish flesh contains many tiny hard seeds.
The easiest and fastest way to propagate prickly pear is by cuttings. Wear heavy-duty gloves and twist the paddles gently at the natural seam. You can use sharp knife but it's not essential. Make sure that the entire base of the paddle comes off. It must have the meristem at the end in order to regrow.
Place the cutting somewhere it can dry for a few days (like in the shade of a tree) and allow the wound to dry up and form callus tissue. This part is crucial because if you water the cutting before the wound has sealed itself off, it will rot.
After you can plant in in the pot with well draining soil. If planted in rain season in Mediterranean climate no watering required. I left my cuttings under the tree for a few weeks and it started to grow right there. If planted in dry season water after planting and as needed.
Propagating by seeds
If you can't obtain the cuttings, then should try with the seeds.
Propagating through seed is a bit more difficult, and the seedlings will take 2-3 years to flower and bare fruits.
The following information was obtained from different sources and not tested personally. As soon as I have my germination tests done this section will be updated.
Scarify the seeds with sandpaper and then put them through cold stratification by exposing the seeds to cold temperatures to encourage them into dormancy (like in the fridge, not freezer!).
After 4 to 5 weeks bring the seeds back to room temperature and then plant them shallowly in a tray of moist succulent potting mix. Keep the soil moist and warm for several days to allow the seeds to germinate and then put them under bright, warm light until they grow into seedlings.
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