Cactus – Vegetable or Fruit?
It is a debate that has been around for a while now – is cactus a vegetable or a fruit? To make things clear, let us look at the anatomy of cactus and its properties.
What is a cactus?
A cactus is a type of succulent plant which typically has thick, fleshy stems and spines. It is a popular houseplant due to its low maintenance requirements, and is even grown outdoors in some colder climates.
Properties of cactus
Cacti contain a number of different parts. The stem of the cactus contains most of the plant’s water-soluble green pigment, known as chlorophyll. This pigment is what gives the plant its green colour. Additionally, the stem and the spines of the plant are made up of cells which contain tiny pockets of air and water.
Conclusion – is Cactus a Vegetable or Fruit?
Ultimately, the answer to the question in the title can be both “Yes” and “No”. Although cactus stems and spines are made up of cells that contain air and water, they are not the same as vegetable cells, which contain only water. Additionally, the edible parts of a cactus are its fruits and seeds, rather than its stems or spines. Therefore, while it is not a true vegetable, it can be considered a fruit.
Types of edible cactus fruits
There are a number of edible cactus fruits which are widely consumed around the world:
- Prickly pear: This is the most popular edible cactus fruit, with yellow, orange or red fruits that can be eaten raw or used to make jams and marmalades.
- Pitaya: This fruit is known for its bright pink or purple skin and is usually used to make juices, jellies and desserts.
- Nopalxocitl: This is a small, sweet fruit found in Mexico, which is often used as a garnish in many dishes.
- Cardoncello: Cardoncello is an edible cactus fruit found in Italy, which is used to make jams and other sweet dishes.
So, in conclusion, cactus can be considered a fruit, due to its edible fruits and seeds, even if its stems and spines are not.