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      Nature Report: Nopalitos

      There are some 1200 native plants in deep South Texas, and one of the most important to people and wildlife is the prickly pear cactus or nopal as it is known in Spanish.

      The nopalitos or tender young cactus pads were a vital source of vitamins, minerals and fiber to the indigenous people, and continue to be a traditional food in the Rio Grande Valley.

      Benito Trevino of Rio Grande city grew up in the brush country of Starr County, and learned first hand the value of native plants.

      After layering mesquite leaves in a basket to prevent the nopalitos from transferring spines to one another, Benito demonstrates how his ancestors harvested the cactus pads.

      "The traditional way, the way my grandmother used to harvest, the way both my grandmothers used to harvest, they would get a little piece of mesquite tree, a little limb usually with a little fork to make it easy to grab to," said Benito Trevino.

      Next, Benito cuts the pad at the base using the mesquite sticks to safely pull the nopalito free, and then he begins to carefully remove the small spines or glockets.

      "If we were hungry, this is ready to eat|you just cut a little piece|but it has a very unique taste|once in a while you know some time will go by without me eating cactus, and then I go and harvest some just to remind me how delicious they are, because they are really delicious," said Benito Trevino.

      With your Nature Report I'm Richard Moore.