Prickly Pear (Nagphani) Information and Uses

Naagphani is a cactus plant. It is a xerophytic shrub with prickly thorns. This cactus has no leaves and it is adapted to dry conditions. Traditionally, this plant is used in the treatment of respiratory ailments, whooping cough, pneumonia, etc. The dried or fresh flowers of cactus are astringent and hemostatic (stops ableeding). Naagphani is also used for temporary birth control.

In tribal areas of Andhra Pradesh, the ash of the aerial portion, mixed with sugar candy, is given for three weeks as contraception. Its orange-red colored fruits are edible (but the surface thorns must be carefully removed). It helps people suffering from piles.

This plant is recommended for growing in polluted cities for reducing the level of SO2 Sulphur dioxide.

General Information

Scientific Classification

The botanical name of Prickly pear is Opuntia dillenii Haw. Its synonyms are Opuntia stricta Haw. var. dillenii (Ker-Gawl.) Benson. It belongs to plant family Cactaceae. Below is given taxonomical classification of the plant.

  • Kingdom: Plantae – Plants
  • Subkingdom: Tracheobionta – Vascular plants
  • Superdivision: Spermatophyta – Seed plants
  • Division: Magnoliophyta – Flowering plants
  • Class: Magnoliopsida – Dicotyledons
  • Subclass: Caryophyllidae
  • Order: Caryophyllales
  • Family: Cactaceae – Cactus family
  • Genus: Opuntia Mill. – pricklypear
  • Species: Opuntia stricta (Haw.) Haw. – erect pricklypear

Part(s) used for medicinal purpose: Whole plant

Plant type: Under shrub

Distribution: Native of Mexico;well acclimatized throughout India.

Habitat: dry/desert areas.

Vernacular names/Synonyms

  • English: Prickly Pear, Slipper Thorn
  • Ayurvedic: Naagaphani, Kanthaari
  • Unani: Naagphani
  • Siddha/Tamil: Sappathikalli, Nagathali
  • Madhya Pradesh: Thuar
  • Hindi: Hathhathoria, Nagphana
  • Gujrati: Chorhatalo
  • Kannada: Papaskalli
  • Malyalam: Palakkalli
  • Marathi: Chapal
  • Oriya: Nagophenia
  • Telugu: Nagajemudu

Medicinal Uses of Nagphani

As a folk medicine, Nagphani is used in the treatment of inflammation, constipation, pneumonia, contraception and many other diseases.

It is used both internally and externally. In any case, it is essential to remove the thorns before use.


Take stem part of the plant, cut in small pieces boil and get extract. Give the extract in a dose of 2 ml, twice a day, for five days.

Inflammation, arthritis, Hydrocele

Take the stem and remove the spines. Cut it from the middle, put some turmeric and mustard oil. Heat it and tie as poultice on inflammation.

Irritable bowel, mucous colitis, inflammation of the prostate gland

Infusion of flower is used.


Put only few drops of latex on Batasha/sugar candy and take.

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