Consolea leucacantha (Link & Otto) Lem.
Nopalea angustifrons Lindb.
Opuntia durangensis Britton & Rose
Opuntia erythrocentron Lem. ex C.F.Först.
Opuntia fulvispina Salm-Dyck ex Pfeiff.
Opuntia lanigera J.Parm. ex Pfeiff.
Opuntia leucacantha laevior Salm-Dyck
Opuntia leucotricha fulvispina F.A.C.Weber ex K.Schum.
Opuntia pailana Weing.
Opuntia pyriformis Rose
Opuntia rufescens Salm-Dyck ex C.F.Först.
Opuntia subferox Schott ex Pfeiff.
Common Name: Nopal Duraznillo
Opuntia leucotricha is a spiny, evergreen, succulent, much-branched tree-like cactus forming a large crown from a distinctive trunk; it can grow 3 - 5 metres tall[
The plant is commonly harvested from the wild for its good quality fruit and also as a local source of fuel[
Opuntia leucotricha is common and widespread. The plant is classified as 'Least Concern' in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species(2020)[
Opuntia leucotricha has the potential to become a weed in semi-arid regions. It has become naturalized in various countries, including Italy, Portugal and Spain.
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[
Southern N. America - Mexico (Aguascalientes, Guanajuato, Hidalgo, Jalisco, Nuevo León, Querétaro, San Luis Potosí, Tamaulipas, Zacatecas)
Xerophyllous scrub and matorral[
|Conservation Status||Least Concern
|Other Uses Rating||
Opuntia leucotricha is native to subtropical and tropical semi-arid regions of Mexico. It has also become naturalized in the Mediterranean climate of various countries, including Italy, Portugal and Spain.
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[
The mature fruit is persistent on the plant, it has been observed to remain on the cladodes for 12 months or more in edible condition[
Fruit - raw[
]. Of good quality[
]. The aromatic, sour pulp of the fruit is edible, but difficult to remove from the rind[
]. The fruits of this and several other Opuntia species are known as 'xoconostles' in Mexico, where they are valued for their more acid flavour and are often consumed, though more as a vegetable and flavouring than as a raw fruit[
]. A common recipe is to slice and mix xoconostles with tomatoes, onions and hot peppers. Adding diced xoconostle to salsas gives them a special zesty acidic flavour, whilst they can also be used as a base for refreshing drinks[
]. The globose, white to purple fruit is around 40 - 60mm long[
The tender young stem segments of various species are often cooked as a vegetable[
]. Known as ‘nopals’ in Mexico, where they are a common ingredient in numerous dishes, they can be eaten raw or cooked, used in marmalades, soups, stews and salads. The most commonly used species are Opuntia ficus-indica or Opuntia hyptiacantha (syn Opuntia matudae), although the stems of almost all Opuntia species are edible[
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[
The plant is a source of fuel, used for cooking etc[