The Prickly Pear Cactus is from the Opuntia family and also known as Nopales or Paddle Cactus. We have a few of these on our property. They are especially beautiful this time of year when they are blooming. In the picture, the orange colored blooms are the buds that will morph to a leaf and the dark red fruit in the right corner is the prickly pear.
The plant itself can be made into a Mexican delicacy. The pad is prepared by removing the spines and sauteed in a chili sauce. My grandmother used to make this all the time because she had this plant growing in her garden.
The prickly pear fruit can also be eaten. In my former life, as a restaurateur, I served these in that popular mexican beverage that goes in a blender!