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Prickly Pear, Engelmann's - Nopal - Tuna - mixed varieties

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Opuntia engelmanni. This is one of the main food source prickly pear species of the southern states and Mexico. Most sources say it is hardy to zone 8a, but some say as cold as USDA zone 6.

Most of this type has deep red fruit about the size of an apricot with a raspberry-like flavor when harvested at the right time. To me, the best time is when barely ripe and just able to be pulled off the plant with tongs. Overripe fruit of this variety loses its acid and tends to taste very vegetable-like and not as appealing.

The fruit makes excellent, freezable juice and margaritas, as well as jelly, sauce or syrup. Seeds have a nice crunch, too. Pads are edible and tasty as well, look for Mexican recipes for nopales.

These fruits were harvested from a garden area that contained several varieties of this prickly pear species. Most were red-fruited like in the photo.

They differ in pad shapes, some are prickly and some not, and some had salmon colored fruit, and one had a pink fruit that was especially appealing in flavor. I’ve included the whole mix in this seed collection. One could end up with a lovely set of varieties of tasty prickly pear from these packets.

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Looking for: Interested in plants/seeds that can grow in zone 8a, preferably. Especially plants for desert or hot regions. Interested in all sorts of plants useful in permaculture, unusual legumes and other nitrogen fixers, fragrant plants, heat tolerant veggies, and native SW plants.