[AKA Nopalea cochenillifera]
Cultivated in South Texas.
| This plant is commonly cultivated as a food for human consumption.
Opuntia cochenillifera is also an important host plant deliberately propagated for production of the cochineal insect. The females of this small creature, Dactylopius coccus, have been valued since ancient times for creating a permanent carmine-red fabric dye.
The name "cochenillifera" translates to "cochineal" + "bearing".
The painting below was taken from a modern reproduction of an early Spanish depiction of domestic ativities in Peru. It shows a Peruvian woman harvesting cochineal insects. (Art courtesy of Carlos Ostolaza.)