Prickly Pear Cactus – Edible?

Q: Are the fruit (tuna) of all varities of optuntia edible?

I have purchased some in the Dekalb Farmers Market that were red in color as well as some from the Asian Market on Buford highway which were green in color.

I found some growing locally at a business in Scottdale, Ga. The owner has told me that they are Prickly Pear and that he has seen a couple of his employees eating them.

Are there any of these that may be dangerous?

I have looked this up on the internet and in one article it says that MOST are edible.

Do you have any suggestions?

A: There are nearly 200 species of prickly-pear cactus. I think the statement that “most” are edible is made simply to cover all of the bases in case one species is found to be poisonous. That said, the common prickly-pear cactus you find in the South is quite edible – both the pads and fruit (tuna). Just be careful to peel off or burn off the spines!

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