Opuntia ficus-indica - Prickly pear, or Barbary Fig

Opuntia ficus-indica

Taxonomy

Phylum: Magnoliophyta

Class: Equisetopsida

Order: Caryophyllales

Family: Cactaceae

Prickly pear is hard to find in flower, and the flowers are usually bright yellow rather than orange as in the example above. The plants flourish throughout the Mediterranean, where they are frequently encouraged as fierce protectors of boundaries of fields and gardens. This is a member of the Cactus family (Cactaceae) of generally succulent and often spiny plants.

The Prickly pear is thought to have been introduced from the Americas by Christopher Columbus, but it is now naturalised in Mediterranean countries. It propagates easily when sections of the stems simply fall to the ground. The fruits are edible and are still sold in markets in the region.

This specimen was photographed in the Algarve in Portugal in April.