Opuntia tidballii J.M.Bigelow
Common Name: Nopal Rastrero
Opuntia chlorotica is a spiny, evergreen, succulent, shrubby to tree-like cactus with segmented stems; it can grow around 100 - 200cm tall. Individuatl stem segments can be 13 - 23cm long and 13 - 25cm wide. The plant usually develops a distinct spiny trunk up to 30cm long and 20cm in diameter[
The plant is harvested from the wild for local use as a food.
Opuntia chlorotica has a very wide range, is abundant, and there are no major threats affecting it. The plant is classified as 'Least Concern' in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species(2017)[
The plant has numerous minutely barbed glochids - these are barbed spines that are usually small to minute and are very sharp and brittle. The glochids are very easily dislodged when the plant is touched and can penetrate the skin where, because of their barbs, they become stuck and are very difficult to see and remove. They can cause considerable irritation and discomfort[
Opuntia species can contain quite high levels of oxalic acid, especially in older parts of the plant. Perfectly alright in small quantities, foods containing oxalic acid should not be eaten in large amounts since it can lock-up other nutrients in the food, especially calcium, thus causing mineral deficiencies. The oxalic acid content will be reduced if the plant is cooked. People with a tendency to rheumatism, arthritis, gout, kidney stones or hyperacidity should take especial caution if including this plant in their diet since it can aggravate their condition[
Southwestern N.America - California, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, northwest Mexico (Baja California, Sonora, Chihuahua, Coahuila)
Found on igneous substrates from xerophyllous scrub to coniferous forests, in rocky or sandy soils of ledges, steep slopes, canyons, or sometimes flats in the desert or just above it; at elevations from 800 - 2,300 metres[
|Conservation Status||Least Concern
In cultivation, Cactus plants generally will not succeed in moist climates. They usually require a sunny position in a well-drained, circumneutral soil and to be kept more or less dry in the dormant season[
Fruit - raw. Fleshy[
]. Considered to be of lower quality than Opuntia engelmannii, a species that often grows near this one, the fruit was usually only eaten if Opuntia engelmannii fruits were not available[
]. The green pulp is edible[
]. The subglobose to ellipsoidal fruit is greyish with a purple tint, around 40 - 60mm long and 20 - 35mm in diameter[
]. The fruit is free of spines[
Flowers - cooked[
]. The large waxy flowers are washed to remove their sticky secretion and then fried in oil[
]. Opuntia flower buds are a rich source of calcium and soluble fibre, as well as containing significant protein[
We have no specific information for this species, but the seeds of Opuntia species can be ground into a powder and used as a gruel or to prepare a kind of atole[
]. Atole is a thick drink that is made with cornmeal (with or without other ground seeds), water, raw sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla and is served warm.
We have no specific information on medicinal uses for this species, but the following notes are likely to apply universally to Opuntia species and other related genera[
The flesh of tender young stem segments can be applied as a poultice to reduce inflammation[
The mucilage and soluble fibre found in the flowers and stem segments have been shown to help control blood-sugar levels associated with adult-onset diabetes[
There is clinical evidence that the soluble fibre in the stem segments helps reduce blood cholesterol levels[
Seed - sow early spring in a very well-drained compost in a greenhouse. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for at least their first two winters. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Give the plants some protection from winter wet. Make sure you have some reserve plants in case those outdoors do not overwinter.
Cuttings of leaf pads at any time in the growing season. Remove a pad from the plant and then leave it in a dry sunny place for a couple of days to ensure that the base is thoroughly dry and has begun to callous. Pot up into a sandy compost. Very easy, rooting quickly.