It is worth noting that the green pads can be eaten, and are part of a few Mexican
). Although I've never tried eating the leaves, they can be bought in supermarket
s (even Fry's!) here in Arizona
. Why anyone would buy them when they are so readily available is beyond me. While you don't see them much in the cities, there are lots in the outskirts
, in peoples' yard
s, or in forgotten pockets of wilderness, like alleys and untended street median
Prickly pear cacti can grow very large -- there was a single plant (or community of plants) on the other side of the fence from my elementary school playground that took up around 25 square feet and rose to a height of around 6 feet. Tasty.
The fruit, when ripe, is purple-red in color and can be made into a tasty jelly, but the preparations are time-consuming and prickly.