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Are eastern prickly pear (Opuntia humifusa) cacti pads as edible as the kind you find in the grocery store (Opuntia ficus-indica)? I know the fruit is edible, if everything across the Internet I've read is correct, but I'm not so sure about the pads.

Anyway, it looks like we can grow them in our zone (I don't believe the regular ones that are largely known to be edible grow in my zone). I would like to grow them for food (not just the fruit, but the pads). I don't want to grow them if they're toxic, though.

I've seen one source that says all members of the opuntia genus have both edible pads and edible fruit. However, it was only one source, and I'm kind of suspicious, because I've heard of one species that might cause issues.

Does anyone here eat eastern prickly pear pads?

Anyway, if you can tell me a productive and definitely edible opuntia that will grow in zone 4 (even if it's not the eastern prickly pear), that would be great, too.

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Opuntia humifusa pads are edible.

Here are a few of the pages that name O. humfusa as edible:

And the list goes on. Of course, it is possible for some people to have reactions to foods others are fine with. If you often have allergic reactions to things, I'd be more careful. That goes for anything new you are going to try.

  • Awesome! That's exactly what I'm looking for. Once of those sites specifies that they're edible when young. I presume you can still eat them when old, but maybe they're like zucchini. Tell me of I'm wrong. – Shule Sep 30 '14 at 3:42
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    @user2962794 They will become fibrous with age. – J. Musser Sep 30 '14 at 3:53
  • Oh, you mean really old pads, right? Ones that look bark-like? So, the full-sized ones can still be young, right? – Shule Sep 30 '14 at 4:05
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    @user2962794 Yes. They will be soft when they first reach full size, and they will get tougher from there. The ones that grow fastest will taste best. – J. Musser Sep 30 '14 at 12:46
  • I found some additional links if you'd like to add them: coldhardycactus.com/products/… and coldhardycactus.com/products/… – Shule Mar 17 '17 at 23:49

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