Author: Domenico Prisa *
CREA Research Centre for Vegetable and Ornamental Crops, Council for Agricultural Research and Economics, Via dei Fiori 8, 51012 Pescia, PT, Italy. Review Article
GSC Biological and Pharmaceutical Sciences, 2021, 17(02), 094–105.
Article DOI: 10.30574/gscbps.2021.17.2.0333
Publication history: Received on 10 October 2021; revised on 14 November 2021; accepted on 16 November 2021
Abstract: The Opuntia genus, belonging to the Cactaceae family, has about 300 species, of which Opuntia ficus indica, or Prickly Pear, is considered the best known and most significant.Opuntia ficus indica have been used in Mexico and Latin America since pre-hispanic times as a food and medicinal resource. In recent years, prickly pear cultivation has increased mainly because this plant used for food, medicinal and livestock purposes is able to withstand extreme drought conditions in relatively poor soils. The fruits of the prickly pear are of various colours such as yellow, orange, purple and white, and when ripe their sweet pulp is characterised by a low acidity. It possesses numerous nutritional and therapeutic virtues such as richness in carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals and considerable antioxidant, anti-diabetes, anti-cancer fruit activity. Opuntia also has laxative properties due to its soluble fibres and mucilage. The infusion of the harvested and dried flowers has a depurative effect; it has a mild, gentle diuretic and relaxing action on the renal excretory system. Opuntias are also exploited as an alternative and cheap source of source of food for animals and as an ornamental plant.Opuntia ficus indica is grown in subtropical, tropical and warm-temperature areas; it is mainly cultivated in Tunisia, Libya and Egypt. The Prickly Pear finds a particularly favourable habitat in Sardinia, Calabria, Apulia and Sicily, where it is also cultivated, as well as in Spain and North Africa, for the exploitation of its edible fruit, with its delicately sweet pulp, rich in minerals, especially calcium and phosphorus, and vitamin C. In this review, the characteristics, cultivation methods, main uses of the plant and fruits, market and adversities of Opuntia ficus indica are described.
Keywords: Opuntia; Succulent plants; Medicinal extracts; Climate change; Anti-cancer fruits
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