Is cactus a fruit or vegetable? This is the question many people have on their minds. If it were some fruits, it wouldn’t be grown on bushes, and if it were a vegetable, we must reconsider our definitions of ‘fruit’ and ‘vegetable.’
Carl Linnaeus, known for binomial nomenclature taxonomy, classified fruits, and vegetables that we need to understand before differentiating them from one another.
Let’s dig deeper into cactus plants before concluding whether to classify them as fruit or vegetable.
What is Cactus? (Also known as succulent/peyote/ prickly pear)
Cactus plural cacti belong to the family Cactaceae (flowering plant family), having 2000 different species and 139 genera.
Cactus was derived from the word ‘Kaktus’ in the Nahuatl language. ‘Cactus’ is also used for other family members, including agaves.
They belong to a group of succulent plants with thick herbaceous stems called ‘crowns.’ They produce edible fruits called ‘capsules.’
They are perennial succulent plants. They can be differentiated from other succulent plants by the presence of areoles (small structures from which branches and flowers may grow).
Most cacti plants have no leaves to reduce the surface area for water loss. The stem does photosynthesis for the plant.
Is cactus a fruit or a vegetable?
The short answer is both. Cactus is a fruit and a vegetable because it is an edible plant and grows from the ground with seeds.
Cactus a fruit: How does the definition of a fruit make cactus a fruit?
A fleshy seed-bearing structure that grows on the plant is known as a fruit.
Cactus a vegetable: How does the definition of a vegetable make cactus a vegetable?
The part of a plant other than the seed-bearing fruit, i.e., shoots, leaves, and stem, is known as a vegetable.
The nopals and flower petals of the cactus can be treated as a vegetable.
So, with the help of a punnet square, you can conclude that the cactus is both a fruit and a vegetable.
Can you eat cactus?
Two parts, i.e., the cactus fruit and the flat cactus pad, are eatables.
Remember: The roots, stem, and leaves are not eatable; they are toxic.
The fruit of the cactus (prickly pear) is sweet and delicious. It can be eaten raw, or you can also squeeze it into other fruit juices. Checkout amazing types of red cactus if you are a cactus lover.
You may also store the cactus fruit in an airtight jar for up to 3 months. Storing for longer than that may cause a difference in the taste.
How to eat cactus plants?
You can cook and eat the pad of the cactus, also known as nopal (as a vegetable). Or add the petals of the flower to the salads.
If you wish to cook the cactus before eating, that’s a good idea. Make sure to wash and cut the thorns before cutting them into strip or cube shapes.
After thoroughly washing the pads, you may boil, fry, or grill them according to your taste.
It has its taste, but you may add sauce to make it mouth-watering.
Did you know? Cactus fruit is rich in potassium, Calcium, and vitamin A so it can be used to treat infectious and inflammatory diseases.
Where does the cactus plant grow?
Cactus plants grow in dry areas and are native to hot regions of North, South, and Central America.
They are primarily found in Mexico and the regions of the Southwestern United States.
They grow on mountains, rain forests, or a few varieties in Antarctica.
Cactus plants grow in light because their roots have no light source. Different varieties of cactus plants grow in various regions of the world well.
Fun fact: Many species of the cacti plant can store water and survive in drought conditions for years.
How to grow cactus plants?
Before growing a cactus, prepare the soil by mixing an equal quantity of native soil with garden soil (any brand you trust).
Dig a hole 1.5 times larger than the root of the cactus plant you want to grow.
Set the plant in the hole, ensuring that the plant’s north side faces the north side. This is because the south side has stricter skin and can bear sunlight directly compared to the relatively softer north side.
Fill the sides with soil mixture and pat gently.
If you want to plant the cactus in a pot, select the pot that is 1.5 times wider than the root of the cactus.
Fill 1 by 3rd of the pot with the garden soil by ensuring that the root and the stem are in the same depth as before transplanting.
Now fill the pot with the soil just one inch lower than the pot top. Water it lightly.
Tip: It is best to plant cacti during late spring and early summer.
10 Interesting facts about cactus
- The family of the cactus is the second largest family in the World, just behind Asteraceae.
- They are challenging to grow as they need a lot of sunlight.
- To cover the stems, cacti have sharp spines to protect themselves from enemies.
- The cactus is a fruit and a vegetable.
- Cactus can store water from the soil to survive for several years.
- Cactus fruits are effective for losing weight, curing diabetes, and improving immunity.
- A cactus plant can live up to hundreds of years.
- Cactus spines are highly modifiable leaves.
- Indoor cactus plants can survive for more than ten years.
- drinking cactus water empty stomach improves a person’s immunity.
This article covered the question: Is cactus a fruit or a vegetable? We also explained how cactus a fruit and a vegetable (it’s both). We also discovered the answer to the question: Can you eat cactus? (Short answer is yes). We also cover how to plant cacti and 10 interesting facts about it.
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