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Spineless Opuntia to Combat Desertification

video Spineless Opuntia to Combat Desertification
This spineless, edible cactus is a very interesting plant for smallholder farmers in the drylands.  Easy to grow from vegetative paddles, growing with a minimum of water in dry areas.  Can be used to combat desertification, to limit erosion.  A nice food crop (paddles, fruits) and fodder plant for livestock.
jonipinkney11 months ago
Here in Arizona the spineless as well as the spined varieties grow all over. However, even the spineless ones have tiny hairlike needles called glocids. Do you know of any varieties that lack glocids as well as the larger spines? If so, where would one get them?
wvan cotthem (author)  jonipinkney11 months ago
Yes, even the spineless variety has glochids. These are eliminated by brushing the pads with a small brush under running tap water (I saw this in a YOU TUBE video about "nopales"). As Brazilians and Mexicans (maybe other Central and South American people) are eating tons of nopales, I can't imagine that it is such a difficult action to prepare noipales for consumption. Antway, as a botanist, I will continue to look for spineless opuntia without glochids. That would make this wonderful plant even more precious.
True, it's no big deal for us humans to remove the glochids. But what about the animals? You and several others mentioned using nopales for fodder, but wouldn't the glochids irritate an animal's mouth and digestive tract? A friend who lives in a rural area says they're finding coyote scat with nopales seeds and other remnants this time of year, when the fruits are coming ripe, but I wonder if animals eat nopales only when they can find nothing else, or if their mouths and digestive tracts are tough enough to deal with the glochids.

Thanks for the instructible and for the work you're doing
wvan cotthem (author)  jonipinkney11 months ago
I have seen a Brazilians cooperative simply drying the pads, bringing them to a mill where the pads were transformed into "cactus meal" (without eliminating the glochids). That meal was eaten by cows, pigs, goats and sheep, seemingly without any problem. So, i think we are reasoning in a human way ....
Maybe the animal's mouths are tougher than ours, or maybe they just grin and bear it. At any rate, cows and other ruminants can digest cellulose, which we can't do, thanks to their four-part stomachs.

My brother and I are making prickly pear juice from the fruits that are coming ripe at this time in Tucson. We learned how to do this from attending a presentation by a young Native woman at the Farmer's Market. I've asked around my Native and Mexican neighbors and found that the method she showed us, with variations, is pretty standard around here among the old timers, although many of the younger ones are more interested in Burger King and Coke.

We'll be posting an instructible soon.
ilium0071 year ago
Does anyone remember what happened in Australia when they planted cactus??
Yes we are overrun by rabbits, foxes, Indian Mynah birds, cane toads, noisy Mynah birds, bindyeyes, feral cats, feral dogs, feral pigs, feral goats, carp, camels, red fire ants, yellow crazy ants, Northern Pacific seastar, wasps and inbreed rednecks!
wvan cotthem (author)  liquidhandwash1 year ago
I wonder why the spineless variety of the prickly pear, as a natural modification of the spiny species, would not occur in Australia, like it does in so many other countries.
Never looked into the issue at all - one of the million and one topics to look into.

According to the sources they are around.

Google : Australia Spineless Opuntia

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aguas_frescas

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Opuntia

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prickly_pears_in_Australia
http://desertification.wordpress.com/2010/08/04/to-feed-livestock-spineless-cactus-paddles-or-nothing-willem-van-cotthem/
wvan cotthem (author)  ilium0071 year ago
Sure, but that was the very spiny prickly pear cactus, almost impossible to handle. Things are different with the spineless, edible variety (fodder and food). Why would the Mexicans and Brazilians plant 10.000s of hectares. They love their "nopales" (see picture above).
rimar20001 year ago
Very interesting. Here in Argentina there are not spineless opuntia, I think.

The most common opuntia is the named "penca". It has a lot of spines.
wvan cotthem (author)  rimar20001 year ago
I guess there must be spineless Opuntias in Atgentina too. I found them in almost every country where the spiny one is growing : India, Pakistan, Lebanon, Algeria, ... Seemingly it is a natural modification occuring in nature.
So chances are there, I'm not very observant. Searching in Google I found that the leaves/stems of the Opuntia are edible, which I completely ignored. They even have therapeutic properties.
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