When people think of plants native to Tennessee the prickly pear cactus (Opuntia humifusa) probably doesn't come immediately to mind. Still it is one of many of the unique plants you can find in our diverse state. This particular cactus was found in Mt. Juliet, TN in cedar glade conditions but you could find it anywhere in the eastern United States. The ground there is very rocky with very little well nourished soil.
In the late spring the prickly pear cactus flowers with bright yellow blooms. The fruit of the prickly pear can be eaten and is common made into jams and jellies. Of course the spines should be removed first!
This is one sharp native. It's also known as 'Devil's Tongue'. I wonder how it got that name?
These sharp protrusions from the pad are really leaves that have developed over the years into extremely sharp spines.
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Thursday, August 21, 2008
Prickly Pear Cactus: A Sharp Tennessee Native
Dave is the author of Growing The Home Garden and runs a small nursery business growing vegetables and herbs for local customers in Spring Hill, TN. (Blue Shed Gardens or FB page). He has written for gardening publications, Troy-Bilt and Lowe's and is available for edible garden consulting. Dave gardens organically and when he isn't writing, collecting seeds, or propagating plants he's parenting his 4 children as a stay at home dad.