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.

1 Answer 1


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. Commented Sep 30, 2014 at 3:42
  • 2
    @user2962794 They will become fibrous with age.
    – J. Musser
    Commented Sep 30, 2014 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? Commented Sep 30, 2014 at 4:05
  • 1
    @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
    Commented Sep 30, 2014 at 12:46
  • I found some additional links if you'd like to add them: coldhardycactus.com/products/… and coldhardycactus.com/products/… Commented Mar 17, 2017 at 23:49

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.