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Family Cactaceae
Dilang-baka
Nopalea cochinellifera (Linn.) Salm-Dyck

WOOLY JOINT PRICKLY PEAR
Yan zhi zhang

Scientific names Common names
Cactus cochenillifer L.  Abakus (Bon.)
Opuntia cochinellifera (L.) Mill. Dapal (Bis.)
Nopalea cochinellifera (Linn.) Salm-Dyck Dila-dila (Ilk.)
  Dilang-baka (Tag.)
  Nopal (Bik.)
  Palad (Bik.)
  Cochineal cactus (Engl.)
  Cochineal nopal cactus (Engl.)
  Prickly pear (Engl.)
  Velvet opuntia (Engl.)
  Wooly joint prickly pear (Engl.)
Dila-dila is a shared common name by different species of plants: (1) Onychium siliculosum: Buhok-virgin (Tag.); dila-dila (Tag) (2) Nopalea cochinellifera: Dila-dila (Ilk.); dilang baka (Tag.) (3) Elephantus scaber: Dila-dila (Tag.), kabkabron (Ilk.); prickly leaved elephant's food (Engl.) (4) Pseudoelephantopus spicatus: Dila-dila (Tag.); dilang-aso (Tag.) Kabkaron (Ilk.)
Also, close variations and use of "dila" for other plants further add to the confusion and difficulty in the list of common names: Dila-dila (Spilanthes acmella); Dilang aso (P. spicatus); Dilang-baka (N. Cochinellifera); Dilang-boaia, dilang-halo (Aloe vera); Dilang-butiki (Dentella repens); Dilang-butiki (Hedyotis philippensis); Dilang-usa (Trichodesma zeylanicum); and Dildila (Cordyline roxyburghiana).
Opuntia cochenillifera (L.) Mill. is a synonym of Nopalea cochenillifera (L.) Salm-Dyck The Plant List
Nopalea cochenillifera (L.) Salm-Dyck is an accepted name. The Plant List

Other vernacular names
AZTEC: Nopal nochetzli.
CHINESE: Yan zhi xian ren zhang, Xian ren zhang, Wu ci xian ren zhang, Rou zhang, Yan zhi zhang.
FRENCH: Cochenillier, Raquette Espagnole.
NORWEGIAN: Cochenillekaktus.
PORTUGUESE: Cacto-De-Cochonilha, Palma, Palma-De-Engorda, Palma-Doce, Palma-Miuda, Palmatória.
SPANISH: Nopal Chamacuero, Nopal De Cochinilla, Nopal De La Cochinilla.


Botany
Dilang-baka is a cactaceous, fleshy, erect. branched, leafless plant, 1 to 3 meters high. Stems are stout, with thick joints, oblong-ovate, green, fleshy, compressed, 15 to 25 centimeters long, with small, scattered, white cushion-like bodies which are unarmed or may bear small spines. Calyx is green. fleshy, oblong-ovoid, 3 to 8.5 centimeters long. Corolla is red, about 2.5 centimeters long. Fruit is ovoid, about 3.5 centimeters long, fleshy and purplish.

Distribution
- Planted in the Philippines, here and there, for ornamental purposes.
- Naturalized in some regions subject to long dry seasons.
- Introduced from tropical America.

Properties
- Tonic, refreshing, antihelmintic.
- Considered anti-inflammatory, analgesic, stomach-protective.


Parts used
Joints.

Uses
Edibility / Nutrition
- Both fruit and pads are edible after removing the spines.
- Avoid the spine and any cactus part with white sap.
- Fruit can be eaten raw or cooked and has a raspberry like flavor.
- Thornless pads are peeled, eaten raw, cooked, or added to salads.
- Pads are rich in vitamin A

Folkloric
• In Mexico, joints applied as poultices to relieve articular rheumatism, erysipelas, earaches and toothaches.
• In India, used for pain and inflammation.
• Used for menopause and hot flashes.
• In Tobago and Trinidad, used for scorpion and snake bites, diabetes, hypertension, kidney and urinary problems.
• In Mexico, joints are applied as poultices for rheumatism, erysipelas, ophthalmia, earaches and toothaches.
• Split pads are emollient, used as poultices for rheumatism; backed for ulcers, gout and wounds. Also, used for warts, kidney problems, measles, and as vermifuge for gastrointestinal parasites.

• In the Guianas, stem "pads" are applied to treat fungal skin infections, fever, and as shampoo for fine, delicate hair. Roasted branches are sliced and applied as poultice to relieve pain, swelling, and localized burning from filaria. Sap used for baby's colds and wheezing. Grated stems mixed with soft grease and corn meal warmed and applied externally for chest colds and fever associated with pneumonia. Leaves used for spleen problems. (8)
• In Guatemala, leaf infusion used for treatment of diabetes.
Others
Veterinary: In Trinidad and Tobago, used in ethnoveterinary medicine for joint problems in horses, applied directly to the injured area. For anhydrosis, rachette joints are pounded up and put in water, and given to horses to drink to induce sweating and reduce the temperature. Rachette (N. cochenillifera) also used in combination with glycerine and Epsom salts to treat inflammation. (9)
New Age drink: In the unending search for longevity through the all-natural and herbal, post-Noni juice and post-Mangostan, the new drink in the herbal-block, ready to drink, thorn-free, spine-free - Sonoran Bloom Nopalea.

• Forage / Fodder: Widely used in semiarid regions as a forage crop. Material not sold in the market is used as dairy cattle fodder. (14)

Studies
Diabetes Studies / Increase Blood Glucose Effect:
Studies have failed to find support for its traditional use in the treatment of diabetes. Moreover, in one study, there was even an increase in baseline blood glucose levels. An oral glucose tolerance test showed the stems of NC increased blood glucose in mice. (2)
Reproductive:
Studies show limited support for use in reproductive problems.
Antibacterial / Antifungal:
Study showed the cactus possesses antibiotic activity against C albicans, E coli and Salmonella enterica var typhimurium. The hexanic and chloroformic fractions of dried NC were more effective than fresh pads in inhibiting C albicans growth.
(4)
Antibacterial / Antifungal:
Study evaluated the in vitro antimicrobial activity of Nopalea cochenillifera. An ethanol extract showed good antibacterial activity and inhibitory activity against microorganisms tested viz., E. coli, S. typhi, Micrococcus, K. pneumonia, S. aureus, C. albicans, C. glabrata, among others. Total polyphenols and flavonoids were significant when compared to standards of gallic acid and rutin. (11)
Phytoremediation Potential:
Cactaceae Nopalea cochenillifera cell cultures transform various toxic textile dyes, including Red HE7B into less phytotoxic, non-hazardous metabolites. The significant induction of various enzymes (laccase, tyrosinase, azoreductase) and 2,6-dichlorophenolindophenol reductase) indicated the involvement of these enzymes in the transformation pathways of Red HE7B. (12)
• Phytoremediation / Chromium: Study investigated the hexavalent chromium VI tolerance and accumulation in in vitro grown N. cochenillifera plants. Results showed N. cochenillifera has a potential as hyperaccumulation plant of Cr VI and a promising candidate for phytoremediation purposes. (15)

Availability
Ornamental cultivation.
Seeds and plants in the cybermarket.

Updated May 2017 / April 2015

Photos / Conten © Godofredo Stuart / StuartXchange

Additional Sources and Suggested Readings
(1)
Ethnomedicines used in Trinidad and Tobago for reproductive problems / J Ethnobiol Ethnomedicine. 2007; 3: 13. / doi: 10.1186/1746-4269-3-13.
(2)
Comparative anti-hyperglycemic potentials of medicinal plants / Villaseñor IM, Lamadrid MR / Journal of Ethnopharmacology, Vol 104, Issues 1-2, 8 March 2006, Pages 129-131 / Epub 2005 Oct 25 / doi:10.1016/j.jep.2005.08.067
(3)
Opuntia Cochenillifera: Cactus Cuisine / Deane Jordan

(4)
In vitro Antibacterial and Antifungal Activities of Nopalea cochenillifera Pad Extracts / R Gomez-Flores, P Tamez-Guerra, R Tamez-Guerra et al / American Journal of Infectious Diseases 2 (1): 1-8, 2006
(5)
Ethnomedicines used in Trinidad and Tobago for urinary problems and diabetes mellitus / Cheryl A Lans / Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine 2006, 2:45doi:10.1186/1746-4269-2-45

(6)
Opuntia cochenillifera (L.) Mill. (accepted name) / Chinese names / Catalogue of Life, China
(7)
Opuntia cochenillifera (Cochineal Cactus) / Common names / ZipcodeZoo
(8)
Opuntia cochenillifera / Medicinal Plants of the Guianas (Guyana, Surinam, French Guiana) / Botany.si.edu
(9)
Ethnoveterinary medicines used for horses in Trinidad and in British Columbia, Canada / Cheryl Lans*, Nancy Turner, Gerhard Brauer, Grant Lourenco and Karla Georges / Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine 2006, 2:31
(10)
In vitro antimicrobial activity, total polyphenols and flavonoids contents of Nopalea cochenillifera (L.) Salm-Dyck (Cactaceae) / Raquel M. M. NECCHI*, Izabel A. ALVES, Sydney H. ALVES, Melânia P. MANFRON / Research in Pharmacy 2(3) : 01-07, 2012
(11)
Ethnopharmacological field study of the plants used to treat type 2 diabetes among the Cakchiquels in Guatemala / Elda Carola Cruz, Adolfo Andrade-Cetto / Journal of Ethnopharmacology 159 (2015) 238–244
(12)
Exploring the phytoremediation potential of cactus (Nopalea cochenillifera Salm. Dyck.) cell cultures for textile dye degradation. / Adki VS, Jadhav JP, Bapat VA. / Int J Phytoremediation. 2012 Jul;14(6):554-69.
(13)
Nopalea cochenillifera / Synonyms / The Plant List
(14)
Cactus: a medicinal food / Anoop A. Shetty,corresponding author M. K. Rana, and S. P. Preetham / J Food Sci Technol. 2012 Oct; 49(5): 530–536. / doi: 10.1007/s13197-011-0462-5
(15)
Nopalea cochenillifera, a potential chromium (VI) hyperaccumulator plant / Adki VS, Jadhav JP, Bapat VA. / Environ Sci Pollut Res Int. 2013 Feb;20(2):1173-80. / doi: 10.1007/s11356-012-1125-4

It is not uncommon for links on studies/sources to change. Copying and pasting the information on the search window or using the DOI (if available) will often redirect to the new link page.

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