How to Get Food From a Cereus Cactus Plant

cereus cactusThe cereus cactus is found in the deserts of the Caribbean, Central America, and the Western United States. The name Cereus in Latin means "torch." Torch is a perfect word to describe the appearance of this tall plant. If lost in the desert, you would be fortunate to find a cereus, because the plant can be used both as a source of food and water.


Difficulty: Moderate

Things You’ll Need:
  • Knife
  • Gloves
Step 1: Identify the plant. The cereus cactus is a long, tall plant with one main large cactus stem that points upwards. Some cereus cacti may have smaller stems branching off the main stem. The whole plant is covered with numerous sharp spiny needles. The plant blooms flowers of various colors depending on the species of the plant. The cactus bears green- or brown-skinned pear-shaped fruit that grows off the stem, usually towards the top of the cactus.
Step 2: Harvest the cactus fruit to use as a source of food. Harvesting must be done carefully, because the fruit is covered with sharp spines. If you have gloves, put them on when harvesting the fruit. Use a knife to cut the fruit off the stem of the cactus plant.
Step 3: Prepare the fruit to eat. To prepare the fruit, wear gloves if you have them and use a knife to remove the sharp needles and skin. The sweet fruit can be eaten raw, boiled or fried. The fruit from some cereus cacti act as a mild laxative, so you should only eat only small amounts of the fruit.
Step 4: Obtain water from the pulp inside the stem. To gain access to the water, use a knife to cut off a piece of the stem. Wear gloves if available. Use the knife to scoop the inner pulp out of the stem. Scoop the pulp into a container if available.
Step 5: Squeeze the pulp with your hands to release the water.

Tips & Warnings

Never eat a plant that you cannot accurately identify. There are numerous plants in the wild that are poisonous.

Article Written By Rose Kivi

Rose Kivi has been a writer for more than 10 years. She has a background in the nursing field, wildlife rehabilitation and habitat conservation. Kivi has authored educational textbooks, patient health care pamphlets, animal husbandry guides, outdoor survival manuals and was a contributing writer for two books in the Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader Series.

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