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The prickly pear, an interesting species to combat desertification and hunger (Yemen Times)

“El nopal, una especie interesante para combatir la desertificación y el hambre.”

Prickly pear, edible spineless variety (Photo Yemen Times, Ali Abulohoom)


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Prickly Pears

Ali Abulohoom (author), Ali Abulohoom (photographer), Micah Reddy (author)

The prickly pear is ubiquitous in Sana’a at this time of year. The fruit’s juicy yellow-orange pulp provides a welcome refreshment during the hot summer months, when vendors sell them in heaps atop rickety pushcarts.

The prickly pear, or opuntia ficus-indica, a member of the cactus family, is native to the Americas. Since Columbus, it has spread across the world and is widely cultivated around the Mediterranean, in the Middle East, the Horn of Africa, South Africa, and other regions.

On the face of it, the humble prickly pear hardly seems like something that would stir much controversy, but in fact it has proven to be a rather thorny issue in the past. Conservationists in Australia and South Africa, for instance, campaigned vigorously against the plant, viewing it an as invasive species and a serious…

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