PLANT OF THE MONTH
Prickly Pear or Nopal
the Texas Country Reporter aired a segment that was taped here
at Rancho Lomitas. Since that time, Benito has received
numerous requests for information regarding some of the plants
mentioned during the segment. Most of the requests have
been for information about the Texas prickly pear or nopal, as
it is called in Spanish. You can usually find nopalitos (tender
young nopal) in both the produce section and the Mexican food
section of local grocery stores. Nopalitos are usually sold
fresh in small plastic bags although occasionally whole single
leaves are available. Canned nopalitos can be found in the
Mexican food section. The cactus grows wild in most parts
of Texas as well as in other states and in Mexico. You can
mix the tender nopalitos in salads or serve them as a side dish.
They can be eaten fresh, boiled, sautéed, roasted, and fried.
Recipes abound for using nopalitos and tunas (the fruit of the
prickly pear). Some of our favorite cookbooks featuring
recipes using nopalitos as well as interesting facts about the
prickly pear are The Art of Cooking with Cactus presented
by the Texas Cactus Council, Cactus Cook Book compiled by
Joyce L. Tate and published by the Cactus and Succulent Society
of America, The Prickly Pear Cookbook by Carolyn
Neithammer, and Mesquite Country published by the Hidalgo
County Historical Museum. If you want to find out
more information about prickly pear and the research being done
in connection with prickly pear and diabetes, there is a wealth
of information available on the internet. Just search for
"prickly pear" or nopalitos and diabetes. You will
find many studies done with nopalitos related to both diabetes
and cholesterol and also many recipes on how to prepare
delicious meals using nopalitos.
Amargoso or Allthorn Goat-Bush
plant Benito covered in the segment
aired on the Texas Country
Reporter was amargoso or allthorn goat-bush as it is known by
its English common name. In Mexico, amargosa is
called besberinda. Amargoso was used and continues to be
used as a treatment for amoebic dysentery. Amargoso is not
available in stores, but it grows wild in much of Texas.
Someone from the Soil Conservation Service in your area should
be able to tell you if it grows in your area and assist you to
identify the plant. You can also search for information about
amargoso on the internet. The scientific name is
Castela texana. You can make a tea from the twigs and
leaves using about one hand full of twigs and leaves to 3 cups
of water. (Don't use the berries as the tea may be too bitter
to drink.) Bring the twigs, leaves, and water to a boil
and simmer about 10 minutes. Let the tea cool and drink it
fast since it has a very bitter taste. This should be repeated
3 times a day for 3 days. It will paralyze the amoebas and
allow them to pass from your system.
never eat or drink anything harvested from the wild unless you
are certain of the identification of the plant. Many wild
plants, including the stems, leaves, and berries, are poisonous
and some can cause paralysis or death.
also consult with your doctor prior to using alternative
treatments for any disease or illness.
would like to thank everyone who has contacted him with
questions, comments, and support. A special thanks to the
Texas Country Reporter for a wonderful segment.
Hope all goes well