The western dry areas have the old-world leguminous Astragalus and Prosopis (Mesquit), but are especially characterized by the northward extension of the new-world tropical Cactaceae, Mgmmillaria, Cereus and Opuntia, by succulent Amar llideae such as A gave (of which the so-called American aloe is a type), and by arborescent Liliaceae (Yucca).
Prickly pear (opuntia) hedges are as frequent as in Sicily.
- Prickly Pear (Opuntia vulgaris).
At the base of the tube, in both groups, the ovary becomes developed into a fleshy (often edible) fruit, that produced by the Opuntia being known as the prickly pear or Indian fig.
Those with long - tubed flowers comprise the genera Melocactus, Mammillaria, Echinocactus, Cereus, Pilocereus, Echinopsis, Phyllocactus, Epiphyllum, &c.; while those with short-tubed flowers are Rhipsalis, Opuntia, Peireskia, and one or two of minor importance.
Opuntia, the prickly pear, or Indian fig cactus, is a large typical group, comprising some 150 species, found in North America, the West Indies, and warmer parts of South America, extending as far as Chile.
The cochineal insect is nurtured on a species of Opuntia (0.
An important product of the plateau and of the open districts of the tierras calientes, growing in the most arid places, is the " nopal " or prickly pear cactus (Opuntia ficus indica).
It consists of the females of Coccus cacti, an insect of the family Coccidae of the order Hemiptera, which feeds upon various species of the Cactaceae, more especially the nopal plant, Opuntia coccinellifera, a native of Mexico and Peru.
The soil is fertile, and the indigenous flora has been greatly enriched by the importation of such plants as the agave, the Mexican opuntia, the American maple, the Australian eucalyptus, the Scotch fir and the so-called Portuguese cypress (Cupressus lusitanica) from the Azores.
That which flows from the lower incisions is often collected on tiles or on a concave piece of the prickly pear (Opuntia), but is less crystalline and more glutinous, and is less esteemed.
In the southern provinces flourish also various subtropical exotics, such as the banana, the West Indian cherimoya, and the prickly pear or Indian fig (Opuntia vulgaris), the last frequently grown as a hedge-plant, as in other Mediterranean countries, and extending even to the southern part of the table-land.