Macrobotanicals (plant remains that can be seen without a microscope) are rare at archaeological sites due poor preservation.


These charred prickly pear cactus paddle fragments are an exception. The cactus was found in Campbell County at the Acer Fergii site (48CA3227) in 2010 by GCM Services on lands owned by Peabody Coal. The site dates from the Late Archaic to Late Prehistoric periods. At least fifteen rock-lined hearth features were identified and interpreted as roasting ovens used for the preparation of prickly pear and other plant foods. There are approximately a dozen species in the genus Opuntia, commonly called prickly pear, which have both nutritional and medicinal value for humans. The paddles (or nopales) can be boiled, grilled, or roasted- see link for a recipe!…

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