Health Benefits of Barbary fig

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Barbary fig Quick Facts
Name: Barbary fig
Scientific Name: Opuntia monacantha
Origin South America – Paraguay, Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil
Colors Yellow to reddish purple
Shapes Obovoid, 5–7.5 × 4–5 cm
Flesh colors Reddish
Scientifically known as Opuntia monacantha  has other common names such as Barbary fig, Cochineal Fig, Barbary Fig, Cochineal Prickly-Pear, Common Prickly Pear, Indian Fig, Drooping Prickly Pear, Prickly Pear, Drooping pear, Drooping tree pear, Smooth tree pear, Smooth-leaf tree pear, Spiny prickly pear and Spreading prickly pear. It belongs to family Cactaceae and usually grown in tropical and subtropical regions. It is cultivated under restricted growth conditions which are not suitable for the growth of other fruits and vegetables. It is inherent to South America- Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay and Brazil. It is widely introduced and naturalized in tropical and subtropical regions around the world.

Opuntia monacantha   is a fast growing shrubby or tree like cactus which reaches to the height of 20 feet with short trunk upto 8 inches in diameter. The stem segments are oblong to obovate which is tapered towards the base, has irregular margin upto 12 inches long and 5 inches wide. Spines are slender, brown, grey and unequal upto 1.6 inches long. Flowers are yellow to deep orange-brown having reddish outer perianth segments upto 3 inches and 4 inches wide. Fruits are reddish purple, pear shaped upto 3 inches long and 2 inches in diameter.

Plant description

The shrub is erect, succulent with shallow fibrous roots but can reach 4 meters. Stems are grey green to light green. The one main stem is woody at base having many side branches which is made up of fleshy, glossy green, jointed, obovate, oblong or oblanceolate segments upto 45 cm long by 15 cm wide and 1.5 cm thick. Leaves are small and scale like form beneath areoles. Flowers are 6 cm in diameter borne on margins of segments. Fruits are obovoid, 5–7.5 × 4–5 cm and green which turns yellow to reddish purple. Seeds are smooth, irregularly elliptic, 4 × 3 mm, pale brown which is embedded in reddish and pulpy flesh.

Medicinal uses

It is used to treat diabetes, bronchial asthma, burns and indigestion.

Culinary uses

It is used in jellies, juices, teas, candies, alcoholic drinks.

References:

https://www.itis.gov/servlet/SingleRpt/SingleRpt?search_topic=TSN&search_value=504041#null

https://keyserver.lucidcentral.org/weeds/data/media/Html/opuntia_monacantha.pdf

https://worldofsucculents.com/opuntia-monacantha-drooping-prickly-pear/

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