Opuntia ficus Indica – Description

This cactus plant of the Cactaceae family [1], originated from Mexico, was introduced into North Africa in the 16th century [2]. Nowadays, Opuntia Ficus Indica grows everywhere in Morocco.


Seeds contained in the pulp, accounts for 2 to 10% [3,4]. And it was reported that oil content varies according to the origin of the seed. The Italian cultivar was about 9.14% [5] when Moroccan one contain between 5 to 6%. The Tunisian cultivar has about 11% [8], South African one 5-6% and Chinese 6% [10].


So, we can conclude that the oil content in the prickly seed will be between 5 to 10% according to the cultivar used for the extraction. And finally, we can say that to get 1 kg of oil, between 300 and 500kg of fresh fruits will be needed.

The oil processed from the seeds is characterized by a high degree of unsaturation wherein linoleic acid is the major fatty acid (56.1–77%). Oleic (C18:1) and linoleic (C18:2) acids can count for more than 80% [8] of the total fatty acids.

The sterol fraction is usually about 1% of TL withβ-sitosterol as sterol marker, representing 72% of the total sterol content in seed oil.

Identification data

Commercial name Prickly pear seed oil
CAS #  90082-21-6
Botanical name Opuntia ficus-Indica
Plant part Seed
Origin Morocco
Manufacturing place Morocco

Specification of the Prickly pear seed oil

Parameters Limits Test methods
Acid Value < 4% P.E. 2.5.1
Peroxide Value < 10 mEq/Kg P.E. 2.5.5
Saponification value 192-195 AOCS Cd 1-85
Insoluble Impurities < 0.001% AOCS Ca 3a-46
Linoleic Acid 55-65% AOCS Ce 1e-91
Oleic Acid 15-30% AOCS Ce 1e-91
Palmitic Acid 10-15% AOCS Ce 1e-91
Stearic Acid 2-5% AOCS Ce 1e-91

Sterols and vitamins E composition

Parameters Limits Test methods
Total sterols (mg/100g)  9.33 PE 2.4.23
Campestrol 1.0 – 2.0 %
Beta-sitosterol 60-70%
Total Tocopherols (mg/100g) 100-110 AOCS  Ce 8-89
Alpha-Tocopherol  0-1%
Beta-Tocopherol  0-0.5%
Gamma-Tocopherol  3-5%


Properties Applications
  • Rich in Vitamin E
  • Potent Anti-Oxidant
  • Good Source of Alpha (α-), Beta (β-) and Sigma (δ-) Tocopherols
  • Strong Anti-Inflammatory
  • Moisturizers
  • Anti-Aging Products
  • Hair Care
  • Nail Care
  • Lip Care


Product description Product specification MSDS
  • References

    (1) Reyes Aguero, J. A., Aguirre-Riveran, J. R., Hernandez, H. M., Systematic Notes and a detailed description of Opuntia ficus-indica (L.) MILL. (Cactacteae), Agrociencia, 39 (2005) 395-408.
    (2) Griffiths, P., The origins of an important cactus crops, Opuntia ficus-indica (Cactaceae): new molecular evidence. Am. J. Bot., 91 (2004) 1915-1921.
    (3) Arrizon, J., Calderon, C., Sandoval, G., Effect of different fermentation conditions on the kinetic parameters and production of volatile compounds during the elaboration of a prickly pear distilled beverage. Journal of Industrial Microbiology and Biotechnology, 33 (11) (2006) 921-928.
    (4) Piga, A., Cactus Pear: a fruit of nutraceutical and functional importance. J. Prof. Assoc. Cactus Dev, 6 (2004) 9-22.
    (5) Salvo, F., Galati, E. M., Lo Curto, S., Tripodo, M. M., Study on the chemical characterization of lipid composition of Opuntia ficus indica L. seed oil. Riv. Ital. Sostanze grasse, 79 (2002) 395-398.
    (6) Sawaya, W. N., Khan, P.. Chemical characrterization of prickly pear seed oil, Opuntia ficus-indica. Journal of Food Science, 47 (1982) 2060-2061.
    (7) Stintzing, F. C., Schieber, A. & Carle, R., Cactus pear, a promising component of functional food. Obst, Gemu ̈se und Kartoffelverarbeitung , 85 (1) (2000) 40-47.
    (8) Ennouri, M., Evelyne, B., Laurence, M., Hamadi, A., Fatty acid composition and rheological behaviour of prickly per seed oils. Food Chem, 93 (2005) 431-437.
    (9) Labuschagne, M. and Hugo, A., South Africa, oil content and fatty acid composition of cactus pear seed compared with cotton and grape seed. Journal of Food Biochemistry, 34 (1) (2010) 93-100.
    (10) Wei, L., Yu-Jie, F., Yuan-Gang, Z., Mei-Hong, T., Nan, W., Xiao-Lei, L., Su, Z., Supercritical carbon dioxide extraction of seed oil from Opuntia dillenii Haw and its antioxidant activity. Food Chemistry, 114(2009) 334-339.

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