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June 2017 Newsletter

The pastures are nice and green after all the rains we've been getting. Prickly pear cactus fruit is everywhere and will soon add wonderful color to the landscape. Bob White quail are plentiful as are the wild turkeys. It's mating season for the turkeys and we should soon see mother hens with large flocks of baby turkeys. The hunters leave their deer feeders running year round and this attracts the gobblers who readily come to enjoy the corn. They are joined by the quail, mourning doves, white-winged doves and white fronted doves. And of course, wild hogs are there. They have increased in numbers and are actually a problem for most farmers and ranchers. Studies are being made to come up with a solution to control the beasts who ruin whole fields of grain, corn, etc. Fields are also damaged by all the diggings of the hogs. As of now, no solution for the hog problem has been found.


Cactus Mexican Style

10 tender diced cactus

1 small diced tomato

small white diced onion

1 diced jalapeno pepper

bunch cilantro

cup shredded monterey jack cheese

1 teaspoon salt (optional)

4 tablespoons corn oil

Steam the cactus until softened.

Drain the cactus.

Fry all the ingredients except for the Monterrey Cheese. Combine fried ingredients with the cactus and allow to simmer for 15 minutes.

Top with cheese before serving.

Nopalitos con Papas

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

3 potatoes, peeled and cut into strips

10 tender nopalitos (diced and boiled for 12 minutes)

1 onion, diced

1 small tomato, diced

1 minced jalapeno pepper (optional)

salt to taste

Heat the vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the potatoes, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally until they begin to soften, about 10 minutes. Stir in the nopalitos, onion, tomato, and jalapeno. Season to taste with salt, and continue cooking and stirring until the onion has softened and turned translucent, and the potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes more.


The Texas Cactus Council will not be meeting on the month of June. They will instead go on a field trip to the Lavender Festival in Blanco, Texas, on June 10, 2017.

The entire town of Blanco and the surrounding countryside will be bathed in lavender during the Lavender Festival. The Lavender Market, on the grounds of the historic Blanco County Courthouse, is always a must-see highlight of the festival. Selected vendors and artists from across the Hill Country will offer lavender-related pleasures and treasures from the finest craftsmen.

A leisurely drive through the breathtaking Texas Hill Country has always been a favorite activity for out-of-town guests. Our lavender fields are enhancing this natural beauty.

Each lavender farm experience will be as varied as its farmers. Farms will offer items for sale, ranging from their favorite lavender plants, to lavender products, to Hill Country crafts. Many of the farms offer special entertainment; and some provide activities and events for the whole family.

If you are interested in lavender's mystical culinary properties, its various craft uses, aromatherapy benefits, or its suitability as a landscape plant, you will find a session designed to answer your questions.

During Lavender Weekend, Lavender Festival Fever will be in full swing, with the whole town participating in the celebration. Merchants will offer lavender merchandise and restaurants will serve lavender-flavored dishes. Who couldn't love lavender in one of its many forms?

The Texas Cactus Council president mailed information about this field trip to the members of the council. For more information, search for Lavender Festival online. Bring your camera, sunscreen, sunglasses and caps. It promises to be a wonderful day.

The next regular meeting of the council is set for August.

J. T. Garcia



Thanks to all who have sent in their membership dues.


April 2017 Newsletter

Thanks to Bill Pritchard for submitting the article below.

Methane plant is the first to use Nopal

Mexico News Daily | Tuesday, March 21, 2017

A staple of Mexican landscapes and countless dishes, nopal — also known as prickly pear cactus — is now powering a tortilla plant and two vehicles in Michoacán.

It was 10 years ago that Rogelio Sosa López, a farmer and tortilla producer in Zitácuaro, Michoacán, and an associate, Antonio Rodríguez, began investigating cheaper sources of fuel and power generation, which represented Sosa's biggest costs.

Using old equipment and a trial-and-error approach they began producing methane with nopal, reducing energy costs by between 40% and 50%, said Rodríguez, a former Pemex employee.

Now they have a two-hectare nopal plantation and a processing plant where a special machine liquefies the nopal. The resulting pulp is mixed in large tanks with water at 38 degrees C, “the right temperature for nopal to break down and release methane.”

Further treatment with sulphuric acid extracts carbon dioxide, giving the plant a 96% concentration of methane at a production rate of eight tonnes a day.

The complete process is sustainable, said Rodríguez, because it produces only water and nopal waste that is used to irrigate the plantation, and a fiber that can be used directly as fertilizer or added to compost.

Sosa's and Rodríguez' project, now a firm called Nopalimex, is the first in the world to produce biogas from the cactus.

Another inadvertent result of their investigation was that the methane could also be used to power motor vehicles.

Two have been running on nopal methane for two years at a cost of 10 pesos per liter. Come next year, the farmers turned fuel innovators plan to be ready to supply the fuel needs of vehicles owned by the Zitácuaro municipality, such as police patrol cars and ambulances.

In order to run on methane, the vehicles have to be modified with a small container tank, a vaporizer and a nitrogen container. In all, the ZItácuaro municipality will save 30% of its fuel costs during the first two years, said the mayor.

Sosa said the state government has also shown interest in further developing their project and investing in it, as has a Spanish firm that has even suggested international clients for the nopal methane.

We are beginning to recover from the big freeze in January. While we did lose some cactus plants, new sprouts are now growing. In fact I've been harvesting nopalitos non-stop for the past few weeks. And it's quite easy since what I have is the spineless cactus variety, which is so easy to process and use in so many recipes. I'm sure I'll be able to once again give out spineless cactus pads to those of you who have expressed an interest in growing nopalitos.


Nopalitos Con Huevos Breakfast Tacos

Cook nopalitos in boiling water 10 minutes. Drain.

Combine eggs and next 4 ingredients stir well with a whisk.

Heat butter and oil in skillet over medium heat.

Add the onion and garlic and saute 3 minutes or until tender.

Stir in the tomato and nopalitos, and cook 1 minute.

Wrap tortillas in foil and place in 325 degree oven for about 5 minutes. (or heat them on a grill).

Spoon egg mixture onto each tortilla.

Sprinkle evenly with minced cilantro, and fold in half.


Southwestern Cactus Salad

8 tender cactus pads, diced and boiled 12-15 minutes

2 cups chopped tomatoes

1/2 cup diced onion

5 jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced

1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves

2 lemons

1/2 teaspoon garlic salt (optional)

In a medium size mixing bowl, combine cactus, tomatoes, onions, jalapenos and cilantro. Squeeze the juice from both lemons over the mixture. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Sprinkle with garlic salt (if you'd like) and serve.


I will make an effort to take some spineless cactus pads to the next meeting to pass out to those members who have shown an interest in starting their cactus garden. We will be meeting on Thursday, April 13, 2017, at 6:00 p.m. at El Dorado Restaurant in Kingsville, Texas , 704 N. 14 th Street 78363. Bring a door prize if you wish.


__J. T. Garcia






February 2017 Newsletter


Plaque-busting plants take on Alzheimer's and Parkinson's
by Michael Franco
January 9th, 2017

(Thanks to Bill Pritchard for sending me this article.)

The fight against the debilitating effects of Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases may have just gotten a new weapon from both a land-based and sea-based plant in the Mediterranean basin. Researchers at the University of Malta (UM) have found that an extract from the prickly pear cactus and brown seaweed known as peacock's tail – which both grow in the region – might help disrupt a key process in which both diseases take hold.
Sticky proteins known as beta-amyloid plaques have previously been shown to play a role in Alzheimer's disease in the brain by interrupting the nervous system, so finding something that can blast them from the body, or keep them from forming in the first place, would be a boon to fighting the disease.

To test out the effectiveness of the extracts in doing just that, the researchers gave a yeast colony a healthy dose of beta-amyloid clumps and then treated the colony with the prickly pear and seaweed extracts, which dramatically improved the health of the yeast.

Next, the researchers moved on to fruit flies that were genetically altered to develop Alzheimer's symptoms. Sure enough, the extracts worked once again. When given the seaweed extract, the median lifespan of the flies was extended by two days. When the prickly pear extract was used, the life extension doubled to four days. "Considering that one day in the life of a fruit fly is equivalent to around one year in humans, the results are dramatic," says a UM report on the study. "Interestingly, the mobility of sick flies was improved by about 18 percent after treatment, highlighting a significant improvement."

Next, the researchers figured out that in flies whose brains were stacked with alpha-synuclein, a sticky protein that plays a role in Parkinson's disease, treatment with the natural substances again prolonged their lives. They concluded that the extracts limit the buildup of the sticky proteins into large clumps that can harm the nervous system, thereby helping to keep both Alzheimer's and Parkinson's at bay.

Clinical trials will follow but, as lead study author Ruben J. Cauchi points out, the compounds are already available for use by consumers.

We believe that the discovery of bioactive agents that target pathways that are hit by multiple neurodegenerative conditions is the most viable approach in our current fight against brain disorders," he said. "A clear advantage of the drugs used in this study is that, in view of their excellent safety profile, they are already on the market as nutraceuticals and cosmeceuticals."

The study Cauchi co-authored appears in the journal Neuroscience Letters.
Source: University of Malta via ScienceDaily


In the January, 2017, Newsletter I announced that we were so lucky that a hard freeze hadn’t hit our area, which was unusual for us. Well, short-ly after I sent out the newsletter, we were hit by a very hard freeze. Many orange trees in town were apparently totally destroyed, many still with oranges. I suffered tremendous loss with my spineless cactus (which is usually not killed in the winter). And of course my bananas trees were wiped out as they are every year. Luckily they will sprout and grow during the Spring and Summer. Rose bushes in town were not bothered by the cold weather. My Chaya tree was destroyed as was my beautiful Angel’s Trumpet. I’m not sure if they’ll sprout this Spring.

And the pear burner has been connected and we’ve been burning cactus for the cattle. Cactus and hay are being fed. I’ll be getting the cattle some mineral. A few cows have dropped calves. Somehow the cold weather does not seem to bother them. Cows are smart mothers and know how to protect their babies in the heavy brush and creeks.


Pollo con Nopales (Chicken and Cactus)

2 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
3 fresh tomatillos, husks removed
3 fresh jalapeno peppers, seeded
1 (16 ounce) jar canned nopales (cactus), drained

Fill a pot with water and bring to a boil. Cook the chicken breasts in the boiling water until no longer pink in the center and the juices run clear, about 10 minutes. Drain and set aside to cool. Once cool, shred the chicken into small strands.

Fill the pot again with water and bring to a boil. Cook the tomatillos, jalapeno peppers, and nopales in the boiling water until the vegetables are all tender, about 5 minutes. Drain.
Blend the tomatillos and jalapeno peppers in a blender until smooth; pour into the pot with the shredded chicken and place over medium heat. Cut the nopales into small dice and add to the mixture. Allow the mixture to simmer until completely reheated, about 5 minutes.

Stewed Nopales

3 nopales
1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 onions
1 clove garlic
1 arbol chile
2 tablespoons diced tomatoes

Nearly fill a large pot with water, leaving 3 or 4 centimeters at the top. When it comes to a boil, add the salt, baking soda, and nopales. Cook until soft, for approximately 20 minutes.

Drain the nopales and rinse in cold water. Set aside.

Heat the oil in a hot skillet, saute the onion, garlic, tomatoes, and arbol chile. Once the onion has softened, add the nopales and cook for 1 or 2 minutes. Serve with baked beans, Spanish rice and cheese.


The Texas Cactus Council decided at the last meeting to meet every other month. The meeting for February, 2017, will be at Jerry’s Diner in San Diego, Texas, at 6:00 p.m. on February 9th. You may bring a door prize if you wish. The president announced that we will have a program at each meeting.

J. T. Garcia


Beautiful Cactus Blooms





Webmaster: Chumbe Salinas



January 2017 Newsletter

Hope everyone had a great Christmas and that the New Year brings you much success, joy and good health. There is one amazing thing that I have observed and that is that we are already in the new year and we have not had a frost yet. My banana trees are still full of green leaves. This is a tree that is easily killed by cold weather. We usually get a freeze by late November or early December. The buffelgrass at the ranch is very green and lush. The cattle are really happy and are eating heartily. I cannot remember this ever happening. Now this is in my part of South Texas (between Corpus Christi and Laredo). Some parts of the state have been hit by cold freezing weather. How long will this good luck last? Don't know. Hopefully it will last for a while.

The prickly pear cactus is also in very good shape. Should the need arise for feeding it to cattle, we'll burn off the spines and let the cattle enjoy it. As I've mentioned before there are plenty of quail. They built their nests under the cactus pads. The cactus offers them shelter and protection from predators. Some farmers south of here have told me that they have seen many pheasants in their ranches. Apparently someone brought some of these birds and released them - - - and they have multiplied. A game warden told these farmers that they can shoot the pheasants whenever they want, that they are not protected. I encourage all of them not to shoot them. Let them increase in numbers even more.



Lentil and Cactus Soup (Mom's Recipe)

14 cups water

TIP! To enhance the flavor of your dish, use Swanson® Chicken Broth in place of water.

3 cloves garlic, cut into thirds

1 pound lentils, picked over and rinsed

1 1/2 tablespoons chicken bouillon (such as Knorr®)

1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 small onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1 tomato, chopped

1/4 teaspoon ground cumin, or to taste

2 teaspoons chicken bouillon (such as Knorr®), or to taste

1 cup cooked diced nopales (cactus), drained

3 small potatoes, peeled and chopped

Bring the water to a boil in a soup pot with 3 cloves of garlic. Stir in the lentils and 1 1/2 tablespoons of chicken bouillon. Simmer over medium-low heat until lentils are almost soft, about 1 hour.

Heat extra-virgin olive oil in a skillet, and cook and stir the onion and 2 chopped cloves of garlic until the onion becomes translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the tomato and continue

to cook and stir until the tomato releases its juice, about 5 more minutes. Stir the tomato mixture into the lentil soup along with cumin and 2 more teaspoons of chicken bouillon, or to taste. Bring the soup to a simmer, stir in the nopales and potatoes, and cook over low heat until the potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes.



Nopalito tacos

Sprinkle evenly with minced cilantro, and fold in half.


Thanks to those members who have paid up their membership dues.


The Texas Cactus Council will meet on Thursday, January 12, 2017, at El Charro Restaurant in Alice, Texas (1011 W. Front 78332) at 6:00 p.m. They have a great menu. Invite your family and friends. You may bring a door prize if you wish. I will bring some spineless cactus pads for those who want to start their cactus gardens.

See you all in Alice.

J. T. Garcia



Webmaster: Chumbe Salinas




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