All these absolutely amazing uses are courtesy of Luther Burbank Home and Gardens - Compiled by Bob Hornback, historical horticulturist - 1990

Luther Burbank was very serious about the use of spineless cacti. He came up with many, many uses for these unusual plants! Here are a few of Mr. Burbank's uses for the spineless cactus... 

Get ready to be ASTONISHED, AMAZED, and maybe even AMUSED!

The Plant

Can be grown as a fence!

Juice From the Pads

Can be spread on water, like oil, to smother mosquito larvae (good for 1 year!) AND Can be boiled down and used in whitewash or mortar!

Young Cacti Shoots: Can be boiled and fried like eggplant AND can be pickled with spices!
The Pads (called "thalli"): 

Can be used as cattle and poultry food (Luther Burbank's original intention)!

Cacti Fruit (also called "tunas" or "prickly pears")

Can be eaten raw AND can be cooked into jams and preserves!

Juice From the Fruit:

Can be used as food coloring AND can be used as a natural dye for yarn!

Cacti - Trendy?
Now then...did you know that eating cactus was trendy? Well, not exactly "trendy," but thanks to Luther Burbank's efforts, people became aware of the many uses for cacti. A hotel in Seattle even had a special Cactus Dinner in 1908...

By passing your cursor over the menu, you can look inside, although it is hard to read. If you click your mouse in just the right way, you may see Mr. B. himself!

The Actual Menu
Diners had the opportunity to try: Cactus fruit, cactus pickles, cactus soup, cactus "okra," cactus "egg plant," cactus pancakes, cactus tartlets, and cactus sherbet. 

Also on the menu: Caviar, oysters, salad, Crab Newburg, beef in Madera sauce, camenbert cheese, and petit fours.

A Cacti Quiz

Now that you're really into this, see if you can pick out the very real cacti uses from the truly wacky options below... Take a guess and then scroll down to see the answers!

Can Cactus be...
1. Chewing Gum?
2. Furniture?
3. Medicine?
4. Candy?
5. Candles?
6. A Hot Water Bottle?
1. Yes! The stems have a sap that can be removed to make gum.
2. Surprisingly true! The woody skeleton of the cactus can used used to fashion "rustic" furniture.
3. Believe it or not! The pads have a special juice that can be used to heal wounds and bruises.
4. What can't be made into candy, I ask you! The "fruit" can be dried and turned into candy.
5. Let there be light! Juice from the pads can be used to make candles.
6. Cold winter night? No hot water bottle? If you have a spineless cactus, you can use one of its pads as a substitute.
Back to Spot #5, Spineless Cactus 

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