Prickly Pear plant - Opuntia Ficus-indica (Cactaceae)

Medicinal Use of Prickly Pear – Opuntia Ficus-indica (Cactaceae)


Perennial cactus growing to 10 ft (3 m). Has large spatula-shaped stems covered in clusters of spines, brilliant yellow flowers, and roundish purple fruit.

Habitat & Cultivation

Prickly pear is native to Mexico and naturalized in semitropical regions around the world. The fruit is harvested when ripe, the stems when required.

Parts Used

Flowers, fruit, stems.


The fruit contains mucilage, sugars, vitamin C, and other fruit acids.

History & Folklore

Prickly pear fruit is used to make conserves and an alcoholic drink in Mexico. The split stems have been bound around injured limbs as a first-aid measure.

Medicinal Actions & Uses

Prickly pear flowers are astringent and reduce bleeding, and are used for problems of the gastrointestinal tract—particularly diarrhea, colitis, and irritable bowel syndrome. The flowers are also taken to treat an enlarged prostate gland. The fruit is nutritious.