One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1A cactus which is a major food plant of the bugs from which cochineal is obtained.
Genus Nopalea, family Cactaceae: several species, in particular N. cochinellifera
- ‘Cochineal - a red dye made from insects harvested from the nopal cactus - was the most lucrative export item after silver that Spain extracted from Mexico during the colonial period.’
- ‘The Aztecs cultivated cochineal, a tiny insect that lived on the native nopal cactus and produced a red dye that was the brightest and strongest color Europe had ever seen.’
- 1.1nopales The edible fleshy pads of the nopal cactus, used as a staple in Mexican cuisine.
- ‘The plant produces flat, round pads (sometimes called nopales or nopalitos), which in some locales are sold in grocery stores for consumption.’
- ‘Canned nopales (plain, or in brine or a vinegar pickle) are available.’
- ‘There are stacks of mangoes and piles of nopales, baskets of dried chiles and vats of mole paste.’
Mid 18th century: via French and Spanish from Nahuatl nopalli ‘cactus’.
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