This image was taken quite some time ago, but I recently rediscovered it. Prickly pears are interesting fruit. They come from a genus of cactus known as Opuntia. The large pads of the cactus (known as nopales) are also edible. The fruits taste a bit like watermelon, but are filled with so many hard seeds that you have no choice but to eat them. I managed to germinate a few of them. They must be scarified in order to germinate which makes sense given how the fruits are eaten. Scarification is the process by which the seed coat becomes thin enough for water and other nutrients to enter. At times I used sandpaper, scissors, or other tools to breach the seed coat. Opuntia seedlings are terribly susceptible to fungus – another thing that makes sense given they would usually germinate in a desert, hence very dry conditions. If you want to germinate them, I recommend planting them in sand that has been sterilized.
The seedlings are very interesting in themselves. Below are some seedlings developing their first pads.
Here is a seedling that began life with only one seed leaf.
Tags: food, fruit, Opuntia, prickly pear