Performance of Cactus Pear [Opuntia ficus-indica (L.) Mill.] Clones in Hot Arid Region of India
Keywords:cactus pear, prickly pear
Cactus pear [Opuntia ficus-indica (L.) Mill.], commonly known as prickly pear or tuna, is a new crop in India although its spiny type, bearing very small fruits (locally called nagphani), is found wild in arid and semiarid plateau regions. Owing to its xerophytic characteristics and capability for greater conversion of water to dry matter than by either C3 or C4 plants through a specialized photosynthetic mechanism called Crassulacean acid metabolism (Felker et al, 1997; Mizrahi et al., 1997), it was considered as a potential crop species for the water-scarce arid parts of India. Also, cactus pear has multiple uses. It produces sweet, nutritionally rich edible fruits, its tender cladodes are used as fresh green vegetable and salad, mature cladodes or cactus stems are used as nutritive fodder for milch animals. The fruit, as well as cactus stem are used to prepare value-added products, such as jam, squash, wine, pickle, body lotions, shampoo, creams, etc. It also has several medicinal and industrial uses (Singh and Felker, 1998). In view of these characteristics and potentials of this species, collections of different clones were made. In this paper, the performance of these cactus pear clones in the arid region of northwestern India has been discussed.