A genus of flowering plants in the cactus family, the prickly pear is known for its flavorful fruit and showy flowers. Although commonly called the prickly pear, its scientific name is Opuntia.
Prickly pear cacti are native to the Western Hemisphere and flourish throughout the Caribbean.
Some prickly pear species are cultivated as ornamentals and are valued for their large flowers. They are easily propagated from stem segments. The edible parts are the leaves, flowers, stems and fruit. Prickly pear cactus is eaten whole — boiled or grilled. It is also made into juice and jams.
Prickly Pear also is the name of a lush, uninhabited island in the British Virgin Islands. It is located on the north side of North Sound, opposite Virgin Gorda. Although the island has no permanent residents, it has a beach bar, restaurant and recreational water sports facilities.
The island’s slopes are dotted with cacti, such as the turks cap, pipe organ and, of course, the prickly pear cactus for which the island is named.
Established as a BVI national park in 1988, the island of Prickly Pear offers 180 acres ideal for hiking, bird watching and picnicking.
The island’s salt ponds are surrounded by white and black mangroves with red mangroves nestled on the island’s southern shore. These areas provide a habitat for numerous birds, such as coots, black-necked stilts, blue-winged teals, common moorhens, gulls, ruddy ducks, white-cheeked pintails, Wilson’s plovers, and shorebirds.
Adding to Prickly Pear Island’s appeal, the Sandbox Restaurant & Beach Bar operates at Vixen Point. The daily menu includes burgers, salads, fish fingers, breaded shrimp, chicken or conch roti, a tempting drink list, frosty cold imported and domestic beer, too. The facility also offers lounge chairs for rent.
A BIT ABOUT SOURSOP
Also called graviola and guyabano, Soursop is the fruit of Annona muricata, a broadleaf, flowering, evergreen tree. It is native to the tropical regions of the Americas and the Caribbean and is widely propagated. With an aroma similar to pineapple, the flavor of the fruit has been described as a combination of strawberries and apple with sour citrus flavor notes, contrasting with an underlying thick creamy texture reminiscent of banana.