Opuntia (phaeacantha, var.) camanchica Engelm. & Bigel. Cactaceae. BASTARD FIG.
The fruit is much eaten by the Indians, and the leases are roasted. It has very sweet, juicy pulp.
O. engelmanni Salm-Dyck. INDIAN FIG.
The fruit is palatable and the leaves are roasted by the Indians. The large, yellowish or purple fruit is of a pleasant taste and is much relished by the inhabitants of California.
O. rafinesquei Engelm. PRICKLY PEAR.
Mississippi Valley, Illinois, Missouri, Arkansas and north to Wisconsin, east to Kentucky and south to Louisiana and Texas.
The fruit is one and one-half to two inches long, less than half that in diameter, naked by the disappearance of the bristles, and edible, somewhat acid or sweetish. The leaves are roasted and eaten by the Indians, as is also the fruit.
O. tuna (ficus-indica) Mill. INDIAN FIG. TUNA.
Southern California, Mexico, New Granada, Ecuador and the West Indies.
The tuna is cultivated in the Los Angeles Valley, California, for its fruit and forms hedges 15 or 20 feet high. The Indians and Mexicans are very fond of the fruit, which serves them for food during its season. The fruit of the tuna, which grew wild, says Prescott, had to satisfy at times the cravings of appetite of the Spaniards under Cortez in their march upon Mexico in 1519. On the lava slopes of Mt. Etna, the fruit, according to J. Smith, is collected and sold in the markets, forming an extensive article of food.
O. vulgaris (monacantha) Mill. BARBERRY FIG. PRICKLY PEAR.
Central America, northward to Georgia, southward to Peru and introduced into southern Europe where it has been cultivated for a considerable period.
About the close of the last century, the fleet of Admiral Collingwood took a stock of the leaves of this plant, salted, among their provisions from Malta. In Sicily, this cactus flourishes on the bare lavas. The figs are very juicy, sweet, wholesome and refreshing. A variety with dark red fruit is cultivated at Catania and is much esteemed. Hogg seems to think that this is the kaktus of Theophrastus, now called in Athens the Arabian fig, arabosuke, but in this he is mistaken.
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