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Prickly Pear Cactus

Texas State Plant

Prickly Pear Cactus in bloom © Arizona Sky Village (all rights reserved; used by permission).

Official State Plant of Texas

The prickly pear cactus was designated the official plant symbol of Texas in 1995. All State Plants

Found in the deserts of the American southwest, the fruits of most prickly pear cacti are edible, and have been a source of food to native Americans for thousands of years. Cacti in general (and the fruits in particular) are still staple foods for some residents of Mexico and Latin America and the prickly pear cactus is raised commercially. The fruit is sold under the name Tuna - the branches or pads are eaten as a vegetable (called nopalito or nopales).

The name cactus is derived from the Greek word kaktos, which means prickly plant. Cacti and other succulents face a variety of threats in their natural environment. They are easily propagated from seeds and cuttings, so removing plants from their natural habitat is uneccessary and harmful to the delicate desert ecosystem.


WHEREAS, The State of Texas has traditionally recognized certain terrestrial forms indigenous to the state as official state symbols; and

WHEREAS, The bluebonnet, the pecan tree, and the mockingbird are examples of some natural specimens that serve to symbolize the rich diversity of the plains, forests, skies, and mountains of our vast state; and

WHEREAS, In keeping with this custom, the designation of the prickly pear cactus as the official state plant will provide suitable recognition for this hearty and beautiful denizen of the Texas landscape; and

WHEREAS, A native of the American Southwest and the Sonoran Desert region of Mexico, the prickly pear cactus provided nourishment to the earliest inhabitants of those regions, and both the sweet, fleshy fruit and the broad, flat stems were incorporated into tasty dishes; and

 WHEREAS, Tunas, the prickly pear fruit, and nopales, which are made from the stem, have since become staples of the Mexican diet, and their growing popularity in Lone Star cuisine can be attributed to Texans' appreciation for unusual and distinctive foods; and

WHEREAS, In recent years, the prickly pear cactus has been successfully exported and naturalized to tropical areas around the world, and it has proven to be a popular landscape choice for all who want to have a little bit of Texas in their own backyards; and

WHEREAS, This adaptable plant can survive under many different environmental conditions, and thus can be found from the hill country of Central Texas to the windswept plateaus and arid mountains of West Texas; because it thrives in a harsh climate that few plants can bear, the prickly pear cactus is often grown as forage for cattle and has had a tremendous positive impact on the vital Texas cattle industry; and

WHEREAS, Rugged, versatile, and uniquely beautiful, the prickly pear cactus has made numerous contributions to the landscape, cuisine, and character of the Lone Star State, and thus it is singularly qualified to represent the indomitable and proud Texas spirit as an official state symbol; now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED, That the 74th Legislature of the State of Texas hereby designate the prickly pear cactus as the official state plant of Texas.