I have Twist-Spine Prickly Pear in my south area. Twist-Spine is one of the smaller Prickly Pears, not often bigger than 1 foot high by 3 feet wide. As I was picking rocks uphill this morning, I saw a tiny one in the worst possible spot. It doesn’t look healthy but is adding a new pad.
I give it credit for hanging in there. I carefully dug it out with my ever present shovel and added it to my perimeter sticker planting. Not a true barrier, but a nasty annoyance. If you have never met a Prickly Pear, the big spines are bad, the little glochids are worse. Even with gloves, I did not touch this baby. He traveled in the shovel like Cinderella’s coach.
Hopefully the little guy with grow up handsome like his brother here. This year seems to be good for Prickly Pear, I lost some last year.
This guy died last year. I left him in place in case he sprouts up again. It happens. 8 of 9 that I planted 2 years ago on my fence line disappeared. No corpse like this one. Hmmmmm. They were a variety with larger fruits and pads. The county bulldozed the original collection spot, so no more samples. They had a higher edibily rating than Twisted-Spine but all the Prickly Pears conserve water.
In Mexico I watched the guys clean spines off Prickly Pear with leather gloves and a machete. Fun for us touristy people to watch but don’t try that at home. I hold mine over a flame with my trusty barbecue tongs and burn the spines off. I prefer my Prickly Pear pads grilled, but they can be pickled or boiled. Boiled, they thicken the liquid like okra. Mucilagenous plants are soothing to the digestive system.
Twisted-Spine Prickly Pear are green all winter and means green food when little else is available, that is also when rabbits take a bite out of them.
The fruit is good and reminds me of watermelon. They are nice for rehydrating on hot summer days. You can eat them fresh, cooked, or dried for winter. I have always eaten them fresh or juiced into a fresh beverage. I have never had enough of them to preserve the fruit. I have so many Twisted-Spine Prickly Pear that if they start blooming right about now, I may have an opportunity to preserve them. I would certainly freeze some of them in ince cube trays to use as ice cubes in fruit smoothies. Blooms are big and eye catching on Twisted-Spine Prickly Pear. Yellow with red. I surely hope they bloom.
For building uses, boil the pads and add the sticky water to plaster, white wash, etc. to improve adhesion.
This is the most widespread Prickly Pear in the United States. Twisted-Spine is a lot more cold tolerant than most Prickly Pear and is native to the central part of the US all the way to Canada.
The sun is fierce today. Okay for Twisted-Spine Prickly Pear but not so much for me, my nose and forehead are pinkish.