How Well Do You Know and Appreciate Prickly Pear Cactus?

Published by Steve Clark on

We’ve all seen prickly pear cactus on sunny, rocky slopes and, hopefully, you haven’t accidentally fallen or backed into their spiny pads. Did you know those sharp spines are not only for defense, but also act as modified leaves? The fruit of the prickly pear cactus is nutritious and good to eat, but beware its tiny thorns. Have you looked closely at the pads or fruit and seen a white cottony substance and did you know that’s a protective covering for the cochineal insect? Did you know that indigenous peoples discovered and used the dried cochineal to produce a red dye for painting, textiles, and is still used today for cosmetics and food coloring? To develop an understanding and appreciation of prickly pear cactus, view the new video in the series posted on the Wild Rootz website by linking to the COSF landing page at Enjoy!

About Laura Pasetta

Laura Pasetta is a certified naturalist and chaparral guide; she also is trained in therapeutic herbal medicine. Her teachings cover ecosystems, ethnobotany, medicinal plants, and native plant landscaping. Her passion, years of outdoor experience and desire to share the wonders of our Southern California open spaces are all evident in the wonderful videos she’s sharing.


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