|Eastern Prickly Pear, our native cactus, in bloom along my driveway|
|Close-up of the edible cactus flower, which only lasts one day|
Not many people are aware we have a native cactus in our region, the Eastern Prickly Pear Opuntia humifusa. Even fewer know much about its ethnobotanical qualities. While some people may have seen either the "pear" fruits or the pads themselves in some markets, very few people know the flower "petals" (actually tepals in botanical terms) are edible, and I find tasty. Since my plants don't always fruit dependably, the fruits can vary widely in how tasty they are, and the pads are difficult to work with, I find the flowers the best part of the plant.