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 Hello Everyone

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starling



Number of posts : 5
Location : Brisbane
Registration date : 2015-05-06

PostSubject: Hello Everyone   Wed May 06, 2015 4:55 pm

I'm a collector based in Brisbane. I mainly collect hylocereus ( I have what I believe to be one the most extensive collections in Australia, I have only met a few others with more types than myself) and fruiting epiphyllums, but I have recently started expanding into fruiting columnar types. I also have begun collecting good varieties of opuntia--so if you have any large and flavourful red or purple fruiting spceimens, I'm always buying or trading for them.

My columnar collection is limited, the best I have being stenocereus gummosus.

I also collect a variety of exotic fruits, and trade with people all over the world--but mostly Brazil, the US, and Asia. I have 140 unique species of exotic fruits.

Look forward to shooting the breeze.

Cheers
s
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SneakyCuttlefish
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Number of posts : 705
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Registration date : 2012-12-11

PostSubject: Re: Hello Everyone   Wed May 06, 2015 5:33 pm

Sounds like a fantastic collection! Welcome to the forum. My great grandmother had a huge opuntia patch out the back of her house. Feasting on those delicious fruits is one of my fondest childhood memories.

Do you happen to have the spineless Opuntia ficus-indica in your collection? I would love to get my hands on one as they are excellent at keeping livestock fed during drought.

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starling



Number of posts : 5
Location : Brisbane
Registration date : 2015-05-06

PostSubject: Re: Hello Everyone   Wed May 06, 2015 6:19 pm

Hi cuttlefish,

the one you're looking for is 'Tiger Tongue'. I do have a couple of low spined types, but none I'd describe as truly spineless. Luther Burbank developed a spineless opuntia as cattle fodder also.
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Eck



Number of posts : 96
Location : VIC
Registration date : 2012-12-04

PostSubject: Re: Hello Everyone   Wed May 06, 2015 10:05 pm

Welcome to the forum, Starling

Regarding O.Ficus-indica (and 'dragon fruit' for that matter), would you know at what size/age these flower and fruit? Are they self-fertile or do they need another non-clone plant nearby before they set fruit?

Tried googling this info but still none the wiser Sad
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starling



Number of posts : 5
Location : Brisbane
Registration date : 2015-05-06

PostSubject: Re: Hello Everyone   Wed May 06, 2015 10:33 pm

Opuntia are all self fertile as far as I know, but this is definitely not the case for hylocereus (dragon fruit). Some are self pollinating, others are not. Hand pollination will increase yields. However, it is always best to have two varieties planted out together. The most fertile is the giant vietnamese white. Colombian red is also very fertile. There are different strains of Hylocereus--such as H, Ocamponis, and Undatus.

They are a night flowering species which are pollinated by moths in their natural setting--in Australia, we don't really have the right kind of moths. You really do need to hand pollinate.

The main thing is to not treat them like a cereus. They are a rainforest cactus, and as such need moisture and nutrients in much larger doses. If you treat a dragonfruit like an opuntia, it will never do well and will probably die. The soil needs to be moist, but not wet. They do not do well in dry, lifeless soil like other cacti.
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Eck



Number of posts : 96
Location : VIC
Registration date : 2012-12-04

PostSubject: Re: Hello Everyone   Wed May 06, 2015 11:59 pm

Thanks for the info!

I should be ok for hylo variety as I purchased cuttings and seeds from ebay two or so years ago (and some harvested from a fruit bought at Woolworths :-)  The cutting multiplied to the point where I gave pieces away.  Seed grown ones that didn't rot over the winters are still quite small.  Doubt I'll ever see fruit.  They seem to want soil in good amount and quality.  O.Ficus-indica is another story.  It really does grow like a weed with zero effort (but alas no flowers or fruit as yet).
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SneakyCuttlefish
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PostSubject: Re: Hello Everyone   Thu May 07, 2015 12:02 pm

Starling

Luther Burbank's variety is the one I am chasing. It has been quite difficult to find. I have a few contacts working in the D.P.I but due to the pest problems associated with certain Opuntia's they are hesitant to supply me with cuttings.

Opuntia's are a highly specialized hobby. I'm sure your skills will be well regarded here. Especially when it comes to I.D.

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starling



Number of posts : 5
Location : Brisbane
Registration date : 2015-05-06

PostSubject: Re: Hello Everyone   Thu May 07, 2015 6:14 pm

I have one variety developed by Burbank. It isn't spineless, but it is the only one he ever developed for fruit quality. Remarkable find.

Opuntia is possible the worlds most underrated plant. Read below...absolutely incredible amount of uses.

Around the turn of the century, the plant scientist Luther Burbank researched many uses of the prickly pear cactus. Bob Hornback of Santa Rosa, California, has worked with the Luther Burbank collection for many years and done much to relocate and save specimens of these varieties. He has compiled a list of prickly pear uses from Burbank's research notes, circa 1914.

Prickly pear cacti can be grown into hedges and fences by planting them a foot or so apart. Within several years, the plants will grow together to form a wall of the spiny pads protruding at all angles( a barrier that will repel any intruder larger than a rabbit. Plantings can also be made for erosion control in deforested areas. In time, cacti plants such as Opuntia ficus-indica may grow into freely-branching trees from 10 to 20 feet tall.

The sap from the pads can be used in first aid similar to the aloe vera plant. Simply cutoff a portion of a pad, crush it, and squeeze the juice onto a cut, burn, or bruise. The sap will soothe the wound. Ground or pureed young pads are used as a laxative and also as a remedy for diabetes. According to Marita Cantwellde-Trejo, Extension Vegetable Postharvest Specialist at the University of California, Davis, the Mexican Institute of Nutrition in Mexico City is researching the hypoglycemic effect of cactus consumed by humans.

In Central Africa, the sap from the pads served as a mosquito repellent. In 1911, Burbank noted in Scientific American, that when spread on water, it smothers mosquito larvae, and the effect lasts up to a year.

The stickiness of the sap makes it useful in formulating various products. It can be extracted to make chewing gum and candles, and is used as a stiffening agent for cotton cloth. A common use in rural areas of Mexico is to boil it down into a concentrate and mix it with whitewash and mortar to increase the durability of buildings.

Fresh pads provide a dependable source of food and drink for livestock and poultry. From 1906 to 1915, Burbank developed and promoted some 35 varieties of "spineless" cactus for this purpose. Charles E. Russell, of Texas A&I University, has studied some of these and other varieties as animal fodder in arid regions of Texas, Mexico, and Chile. Russell points out that the pads, when supplemented with a portion of cottonseed meal, offer all the moisture and nutrition an animal needs. Cantwell-de-Trejo adds that while there is a maximum amount of cactus pads that animals can eat (if pads make up over 50% of their diet, they will develop diarrhea), the pads may be the only source of food and water for range animals during times of drought or hardship. A wide variety of other animals has been successfully raised on the cactus pads. These include sheep, pigs, horses, ostriches (grown for their feather plumes), and at least one circus elephant.

According to Russell, the pads are a highly-prized commodity in the dairy industry of Mexico. When fed to dairy stock, the pads impart a distinctive flavor to the milk and butter, and these products are highly desired locally. A mutually beneficial barter system between cacti and dairy producers provides all the manure the cactus can use in return for all the pads the dairy stock can eat.

Other parts of the cactus also are useful. The pads can be pounded and dried, and the strong fibers woven into mats, baskets, fans, and fabrics. Pressed fibers can be used in making paper. The large spines are used as toothpicks, needles, and pins. Even the woody skeletons left after the fleshy tissues is dried can be used( in the construction of houses, rustic furniture, and assorted trinkets.

Before commercial dependence on synthetic dyes, cactus plantations were planted for the production of red pigments. The red-colored fruit of Opuntia streptacantha contain betacyanins (similar to anthocyanins) that are used for food coloring. Carminic acid ( "cochineal" ( is produced by the cochineal insect that feeds on the pads and fruit, and is used in botanical stains and as a cloth dye. In the 16th century, the export of cochineal from Mexico was second in importance and monetary value only to silver. According to Cantwell-de-Trejo, there is a resurgence of interest in these natural pigments. Also, some Indian groups dry the pads, flower buds, and fruits for later boiling and eating. Young flower buds can be baked and eaten.

Russell and Cantwell-de-Trejo concur that the prickly pear cactus is an underappreciated plant species, and they optimistically anticipate the development of future economic uses for both the pads and the fruit. Some possible uses, Russell suggests, include adapting the natural mucilage in pads as a soup thickener similar to agar, using the fruit's juice in various flavorings, and fermenting the juice into vinegar and wine ( the distillate retains a wonderfully fruity aroma.
Culinary Uses

However, forbidding the spines, this cactus is definitely worth eating. The pads are "cladodes" or "nopales" when they're whole, and "nopalitos" when they're diced. They taste something like green beans. The fruits are called prickly pears, cactus pears, or "tunas."

Whether you add sliced or cubed pads to omelettes or gently urge the fruit from its stickery skin and eat it fresh or cooked into jelly, this cactus has much to offer. Even the seeds can be eaten in soups or dried and ground into flour. Recipes and entertaining and informative tips on preparation can be found in Joyce L. Tate'sCactus Cookbook, available from the Cactus and Succulent Society of America. Recipes range from appetizers, soups, and salads through entrees, vegetable dishes, and breads to desserts, beverages, and candies.

In Central Mexico, the pads have grown as a traditional vegetable since before the Spanish arrived. Today, the pads are available in this country throughout the year in specialty produce sections and at farmer's markets. The smaller young pads in the early spring are the most succulent, delicate in flavor, and have the fewest spines. Fresh pads are full of water and should be bright green and firm. To prepare the pad, simply hold its base and scrape the skin on both sides with a blunt knife until all the spines are removed. Then peel the pads and cut them into shoestring strips or dice them according to the needs of the recipe. They can be eaten raw in salads, boiled and fried like eggplant, pickled with spices, or cooked with shellfish, pork, chilies, tomatoes, eggs, coriander, garlic, and onions.

The flavor of a ripe prickly pear cactus fruit depends on the variety but include strawberries, watermelons, honeydew melons, figs, bananas, and citrus. You can eat them raw, at room temperature or chilled, and alone or with lemon juice. They can be cooked into jams and preserves or cooked down into a syrup as a base for jelly and candy ( the "cactus candy" in some Mexican food stores. This syrup can be reduced even further into a dark red or black paste that is fermented into a potent alcoholic drink called "coloncha." The fruit pulp can be dried and ground into flour for baking into small sweet cakes, or stored for future use.

Individual taste preferences will dictate which varieties to choose for eating fresh and which for cooking. In Mexico alone, there are over 100 species with edible fruits. Sam Williams, a cactus enthusiast in Carmichael, California, says that while all the fleshy fruit kinds are edible and none are poisonous, only a few are palatable and even fewer taste really sweet. They range from juicy to dry and sweet to acid. Cantwell-de-Trejo says that the acidity and fibrousness of the fruits are called "xoconochtlis" and are used in certain traditional Mexican stews and other dishes.

Fruit size, shape, and color vary from small and round like a walnut to three inches long and two inches wide like a rounded cylinder. Skin and flesh come in a rainbow of colors ( white, green, yellow, orange, red, purple, and brown. White-skinned varieties are the most popular in Mexico, says Cantwell-de-Trejo, while the sweetest varieties generally available in this country have dark reddish-orange or purple skins and deep red-purple flesh. The fruit contains about one-half the amount of an orange. According to Cantwell-de-Trejo, this is its most important use in the diet of rural Mexicans.

The fruits ripen from early spring through late fall, depending on the variety. Those that are best for eating fresh ripen from September through November. Charlotte Glenn of Le Marche Seeds International in Dixon, California, who works extensively with gourmet vegetables, says that the perfect stage of ripeness of each fruit lasts only about a week, and the maximum shelf life of a fruit is only eight or nine days. Many of the fruits sold in California are imported from Mexico to extend the market season.
References
Publications:

Ashley, George, The Punctured Thumb, or Cactus and Other Succulents, 101 Productions. 1977.

Dawson, E. Yale, The Cacti of California, University of California Press. 1966.

Everett, Thomas, Encyclopedia of Horticulture, The New York Botanical Garden, Rodale Press. 1978.

Hunter, Mel, In Defense of Opuntias, Cactus & Succulent Journal. Vol. 57, September-October. 1985.

Kemp, E. E., Cacti and Succulents, a Practical Handbook, E. P. Dutton and Co., Inc. 1963.

Martin, Margaret , P. R. Chapman and H. A. Auger, Cacti and Their Cultivation. Charles Scribner's Sons. 1971.

Mitich, Larry. Prickly Peat Cactus, Botany Department Cooperative Extension, University of California, Davis, California 95616.

Russell, Charles E. and Peter Felker, The Prickly Pears (Opuntia spp.): Plants With Economic Potential, Texas A&I University, Kingsville, Texas.

Tate, Joyce L., Cactus Cookbook, Succulent Cookery International, Cactus and Succulent Society of America, 1978.
Individuals:

Cantwell-de-Trejo, Marita. Cooperative Extension Vegetable Postharvest Specialist, Vegetable Crops Department, University of California, Davis, California 95616. (916) 752-7305.

Glenn, Charlotte. Le Marche Seeds International, PO Box 5656, Dixon, California. (916) 678-4125.

Hornback, Bob. PO Box 683, Occidental, California 95465. (707) 823-1009.

Mitich, Larry. Cooperative Extension Weed Scientist, Botany Department, University of California, Davis, California 95616. (916) 752-0612.

Russell, Charles E. College of Agriculture, Texas A&I University , Campus Box 218 Kingsville, Texas 78363. (512) 595-3922.

Thomas, Lorraine. K&L Nursery, 12712 Stockton Blvd., Galt, California. (209) 745-4756.

Williams, Sam and Dorothy. 6240 Wildomar Way, Carmichael, California 95608. (916) 967-7988.
Sources For Prickly Pear Cactus
Small Quantities: Retail Outlets Clubs, and Individuals
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