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The Collaborative International Dictionary

Nopal \No"pal\, n. [Mexican nopalli.] (Bot.) A cactaceous plant ( Nopalea cochinellifera), originally Mexican, on which the cochineal insect feeds, and from which it is collected. The name is sometimes given to other species of Cactace[ae].

Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary

Mexican cactus, from American Spanish, from Nahuatl (Aztecan) nopalli.


n. A prickly pear cactus from the genus ''Opuntia'', especially (taxlink Opuntia cochinellifera species noshow=1).

  1. n. cactus having yellow flowers and purple fruits [syn: Opuntia lindheimeri]

  2. any of several cacti of the genus Nopalea resembling prickly pears


'''Nopal '''(from the Nahuatl word nohpalli for the pads of the plant) is a common name in Mexican Spanish for Opuntia cacti (commonly referred to in English as prickly pear), as well as for its pads.

There are approximately one hundred and fourteen known species endemic to Mexico, where the plant is a common ingredient in numerous Mexican cuisine dishes. The nopal pads can be eaten raw or cooked, used in marmalades, soups stews and salads, as well as being used for traditional medicine or as fodder for animals. Farmed nopales are most often of the species Opuntia ficus-indica or Opuntia joconostle although the pads of almost all Opuntia species are edible. The other part of the nopal cactus that is edible is the fruit called the tuna in Spanish, and the "prickly pear" in English.

Nopales are generally sold fresh in Mexico, cleaned of spines, and sliced to the customer's desire on the spot, they can also be found canned or bottled, and less often dried, especially for export. Cut into slices or diced into cubes, nopales have a light, slightly tart flavor, like green beans, and a crisp, mucilaginous texture. In most recipes, the mucilaginous liquid they contain is sometimes included in the cooking. They are at their most tender and juicy in the spring.

Nopales are most commonly used in Mexican cuisine in dishes such as huevos con nopales ( eggs with nopal), carne con nopales (meat with nopal), tacos de nopales, in salads with tomato, onion, and queso panela (panela cheese), or simply on their own as a side vegetable. Nopales have also grown to be an important ingredient in New Mexican cuisine and in Tejano culture (Texas).

Usage examples of "nopal".

Distinguished by Tauptu awareness and Chitumih denial of the nopal, they nourished toward each other an emotion akin to but a dozen times more intense than Earthly hate.

nopalgarth as the nopal infected Ixax, and do no more than direct the struggle.

The nopal disappeared, the sky was empty of all but dour wind, torn clouds.

He looked up to find the small nopal floating near at hand, the eye-orbs glistening down at him.

He apprehended the nopal, at first ascribing them to teletactility or even hallucination.

It is intolerable, and we will never quit our war until the nopal are destroyed.

This is the next stage of the war against the nopal, which someday we must win.

The style of your thinking and the nature of your visual processes is quicker and more flexible than ours, and more susceptible to nopal suggestion.

As to the intelligence of the nopal, it functions to augment the success of its existence.

Confound the nopal, confound the Xaxans, confound the entire complicated mess!

When we dislodge a nopal from a Chitumih, we capture it and crush it thin.

Perhaps this will be the spearhead of your attack on the nopal of nopalgarth: the discovery and systematization of a new science.

He saw their faces and imagined their nopal, riding like pompous Old Men of the Sea.

The nopal towered over his head and neck like some fantastic war helmet.

The nopal, disintegrated into powder, merged with the fabric of the bag.