Cactus Pear - Spineless Cactus - Nopal
Tigertongue - South Texas Pricklypear
Opuntia ellisiana - Griffiths
Cactaceae (Cactus) Family
The Thornless Prickly-pear typically grows with flat, rounded cladodes (also called platyclades) but instead of spines, the surface is smooth. The plant is cold-hardy. Commonly referred to as prickly pear, the plants grow up to 6 feet tall, with branches bearing numerous oblong, bluish-green pads, known as nopales or nopalitos. This particular plant has long been a staple of Mexican, Central American and Southwest cuisine. Gardeners are rewarded with 4-inch long yellow flowers borne at the tip of the pads, which will go on to bear fleshy, bottom-heavy reddish-purple fruit (tuna), which taste is often likened to watermelon. Thornless is extremely drought tolerant and is ideal as a foundation plant in the domestic landscape.
Its preferred habitat is arid and rocky slopes, sand dunnes, and the margin of piney woods. While rarely seen in the Escambia forests, the Thornless Prickly-pear is indeed out there, but is usually avoided due to the reputation generally attributed to its thorny cousin.
Flowers occur from May to June.