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Earthnotes
Herb Library

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DISCLAIMER: These pages are presented solely as a source of INFORMATION and ENTERTAINMENT and to provide stern warnings against use where appropriate. No claims are made for the efficacy of any herb nor for any historical herbal treatment. In no way can the information provided here take the place of the standard, legal, medical practice of any country. Additionally, some of these plants are extremely toxic and should be used only by licensed professionals who have the means to process them properly into appropriate pharmaceuticals. One final note: many plants were used for a wide range of illnesses in the past, but be aware that many of the historical uses have proven to be ineffective for the problems to which they were applied.




CACTUS
CACTACEAE

ARIOCARPUS SP


LIVING ROCK
aka Dry Whiskey
(Ariocarpus fissuratus)
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Native to Texas and Mexico. Was chewed by Native Americans of the southwestern United States to produce intoxication; causes delirium!.

CARNEGIEA SP


GIANT CACTUS
(Carnegiea gigantea)
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Native to the southwestern United States, Native Americans of Arizona and California ate the figlike fruit; the rind, pulp and seeds were all used. The juice has been used as a beverage in fresh and fermented states. The Papago Indians prepared a sweet syrup and preserves from the fruit.

CORYPHANTHA SP

BEEHIVE CACTUS
aka Pincushion Cactus
(Coryphantha vivipara syn Escobaria vivipara)
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Has a red fruit which was eaten by the Native Americans of Missouri.

ECHINOCACTUS SP
In general the Echinocactus species has been used as a thirst quencher; the pulp of the stem contains a watery juice.


COTTONTOP CACTUS
(Echinocactus polycephalus)
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The Panamint Indians of California ate the seeds of the fruit.

ECHINOCEREUS SP
Plants of this species are generally known as Hedgehog Cactus, Hedgehog Cereus, and Pitaya.
The fruit and fleshy part of the stem was eaten by Native Americans of Texas and New Mexico.


SCARLET HEDGEHOG CACTUS
(Echinocereus coccineus)
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Native to the southwestern United States. The Native Americans of New Mexico ate the fruit fresh or preserved.


SPINY HEDGEHOG CACTUS
(Echinocereus dasyacanthus)
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The greenish-purplish fruit was eaten by the Native Americans of Texas and New Mexico.


STRAWBERRY CACTUS
(Echinocereus dubius)
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The fruit was eaten by the Native Americans of Texas.


STRAWBERRY HEDGEHOG CACTUS
(Echinocereus engelmanni syn Echinocereus enneachanthus)
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Native to the southwestern United States. Fruits were eaten by the Native Americans of that area.


FENDLER HEDGEHOG CACTUS
(Echinocereus fendleri)
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The stems were roasted for food and the fruit eaten by Native Americans of New Mexico.


CLARETCUP CACTUS
aka Mohave Mound
(Echinocereus gonacanthus syn Echinocereus triglochidiatus)
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The Native Americans of New Mexico roasted the stems and ate the fruit fresh or preserved.

FEROCACTUS SP
Generally known as Barrel Cactus, Fishhook Cactus, and Visnaga.


BARREL CACTUS
(Ferocactus acanthodes)
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The Native Americans of California ate the small fruits and used the succulent interior of the plant to relieve thirst.


TURKSHEAD CACTUS
(Ferocactus hematacanthus)
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The Native Americans of of Texas ate the fresh fruit.


FISHHOOK BARREL CACTUS
(Ferocactus wislizenii)
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Native to the southwestern United States. The pulp of the stem and the juice was used by Native Americans to relieve thirst; the seeds were ground and made into bread or gruel.

LEMAIREOCEREUS SP


ORGAN-PIPE CACTUS
(Lemaireocereus thurberi
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The Native Americans of Arizona and California ate the large fruits which were also used to make wines and syrups; the seeds were used dried and powdered.

LOPHOPHORA SP


PEYOTE
aka Mescal-Button
(Lophophora williamsii)
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Native to Texas and Mexico. Has intoxicating properties when chewed or added to beverages.

NEOBESSEYA SP


BALL CACTUS
aka Cream Cactus, Missouri Pincushion
(Neobesseya missouriensis)
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The fruit was eaten by the Crow Indians.

MAMMILLARIA SP
Generally known as Pincushion Cactus and Strawberry Cactus.


CORAL CACTUS
(Mammillaria meiacantha)
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The red fruit was eaten by the Native Americans of Texas, California, and New Mexico; also the entire plant after burning off the spines.

OPUNTIA SP
Generally known as Prickly Pear, Tuna, Cholla, Cholla Cactus.
The fruits were eaten fresh, cooked and dried; the seeds were ground into meal; the stems were eaten boiled.
Found in Utah, Nevada, New Mexico, Arizona, and California.


BEAVERTAIL CACTUS
aka Rose Tuna
(Opuntia basilaris)
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The Native Americans of California and New Mexico broke off the joints, buds and blossoms in the spring and steamed them in a pit.


FIRE PRICKLY PEAR
(Opuntia phaeacantha v. camanchica [var.sp. camanchaca])
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Native Americans of New Mexico, Arizona, and California ate the fruit.


DAGGER CHOLLA
(Opuntia clavata)
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Native Americans of New Mexico roasted the fruit and stems for food.


FLAMING PRICKLY PEAR
aka Engelmann's Prickly Pear, Tuna, Yellow-spined Prickly Pear
(Opuntia engelmannii)
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The fruit was eaten raw or cooked and the leaves were fried by Native Americans of New Mexico, Arizona, and California.<


INDIAN FIG
aka Spineless Cactus
(Opuntia ficus-indica)
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The fruit was eaten raw, stewed, and preserved by Native Americans.


FRAGILE PRICKLY PEAR
(Opuntia fragilis)
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The plant was roasted in ashes by Native Americans of the United States and British Columbia, Canada.


EASTERN PRICKLY PEAR
(Opuntia humifusa)
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The fruit was eaten fresh and stewed, also dried for winter use by the Native Americans of Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota.


WALKINGSTICK CACTUS
aka Chain-link Cactus, Devil's Rope, Tree Cholla
(Opuntia imbricata)
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The fruit was eaten raw or cooked by Native Americans of New Mexico and Arizona.


TEXAS PRICKLY PEAR
aka Nopal Prickly Pear
(Opuntia lindheimeri)
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Fruit eaten by Native Americans of southern California.


WESTERN PRICKLY PEAR
(Opuntia occidentalis)
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Fruit eaten by Native Americans of California.


PLAINS PRICKLY PEAR
aka Hair Spine
(Opuntia polyacantha)
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After rubbing the fruit in the sand with a foot to remove the spines, the fruit was eaten fresh or sundried by Native Americans. The fruit was also used by the Navajo to produce a dye; the juice was squeezed out, then strained and added to water, then the yarn was added. When cold, the dye bath produces various shades of rose and pink; when boiled, it produces tan; combined with root bark of Cercocarpus montanus it produces more variations of color in the rose to pink shadings. The yellow blossoms were eaten by the Native Americans of Wyoming, Montana, Arizona, New Mexico, as well as those of British Columbia and Saskatchewan in Canada.


STAGHORN CHOLLA
(Opuntia versicolor)
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The fruit was eaten fresh or cooked by Native Americans of Arizona.


PLATEAU CHOLLA
(Opuntia whipplei)
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The fruit was eaten raw or stewed or dried for use by the Native Americans of New Mexico.

PENIOCEREUS SP


NIGHT-FLOWERING CEREUS
aka Deerhorn Cactus, Reina-de-la-Noche
(Peniocereus greggii)
Not to be confused with SELENICEREUS GRANDIFLORA which is called Night-BLOOMING Cereus.
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Native Americans of Texas ate the fruit.

Art credits: Mad Lantern Clipart, Poison Clipart

©2005 by Ernestina Parziale, CH

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