Herbs of the Holyland by Nissim Krispil

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Indian fig
Common name:

Indian fig

Synonym name:

Cactus pear

Hebrew name:

צבר מצוי

Scientific name:

Opuntia ficus indica



Arabic name:

צבר / כוז

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2-4 m
Flowering color:
Flowering period:
Growing areas:
It mostly grows in Arab villages as a natural fence plant. Also as a cultural growth and it can even be found in open natural areas
Indian fig- Opuntia ficus indica
Indian fig is a thorny bush, sometimes rises to a great height. The base of the plant is woody like a trunk, from it grows large joints involved together and resemble ellipse. The ellipse stalks or joints are succulent and contain gelatinous material. The leaves are spines and fixed in groups in small holes. The flowers are large, sitting on the head of the stalks. With fruit ripening the color of it changes to yellow-orange and to red.
Indian fig is used in folk medicine for diarrhea, dysentery and urinary tract disease, back pain and more. In South American they use Indian fig flowers to treat enlarged prostate problems.
For treating enlarged prostate 
Take a handful of dried Indian fig flowers, boil them for fifteen minutes, strain and drink, the recommended dosage is five cups a day.
Those who visited the traditional spice markets in South America probably saw sacks packed with dried Indian fig flowers. There are sellers who color them in a variety of colors to make it colorful for their customers.

Nowadays the Israeli Arabs grows Indian fig as a natural thorny fence and they love to eat the juicy fruits that ripen in summer.

The origin of the Indian fig is America. With the discovery of the American continents, few cactus species were brought to Spain and from there they were dispersed to many places over the world, including the Mediterranean.  
The Hebrew name of the plant is 'Tzabar' and it became a nickname to those who have born and grown in Israel. The plant looks prickly and even sassy on the outside but it is very good and tasty in its inside, and although the plant is not endemic to this area It resembles the natural character of  the Israelites. 
 Assaf the Jew the famous Jewish ancient doctor (sixth century AD) tells about the Indian figs "good for the kidneys and urinary tract stones and all the illnesses of women." 
Tunisian Jews heat the succulent stems of the plant on embers, spread butter on them and bandage them on the abdomen, as a cure for stomach internal bleeding. Libyan Jews use the flowers and fruit as a remedy for diarrhea, dysentery and urinary tract diseases. Moroccan Jews prepare cream from the fruit skin and spread on the head to kill lice eggs. Yemenite Jews use the gelatin in the succulent steams of the plant to treat ringworm. The Israeli Arabs heat up the succulent steams on embers, place them on patients back, and bandage it to treat back pain. This treatment was proven as a very useful healing process