Fico D'india can be found all across Italy in cuisines, juices and fragrances - But where did this cactus fruit come from? And why is it so popular in Italian culture?
Let’s explore the unique origin of this cactus fruit, and the essentials in the Mozzafiato collection that boast its fragrance.
Fico D'india in Sicily
Fico D’india (or prickly pear cactus) has been dubbed “the symbol of the Sicilian landscape” - but is in fact, not native to Italy at all. The origins of the plant in Italian culture date back to the fifteenth century, when it was imported to the Mediterranean from Central and South Americas. The plant flourished in the Sicilian climate and has been a staple Italian fruit ever since. You’ll see symbols of the cactus fruit everywhere throughout Sicily - in art, jewelry, ceramics, clothing and even furniture.
Large Fico D’india fruits are highly prized in Sicily because they’re known to be sweeter and juicier – tasting like a cross between watermelon and lemon. The larger crop is achieved by cutting off the first blooming cactus flowers in late spring, a tradition known as scozzolatura.
The legend behind Scozzolatura
According to Sicilian legend, the ritual of scozzolatura began after neighboring farmers had a feud over property lines. The plant was commonly used as a barrier between farms, and one of the farmers attempted to destroy his neighbor’s Fico D’india crop by cutting off all the flowers of the neighboring cactus plants. However, this resulted in the fruits growing later in the season – much bigger and juicier than normal. Soon after, the practice of trimming the first blooming flowers from cactus crops became widespread, and the scozzolatura tradition was born.
Most commonly, Fico D’india is grown in the Sicilian province of Catania within the Mount Etna Regional Park – but the fruit can be found throughout the summer months to enjoy throughout all of Italy.
The Benefits of Fico D'india
Fico D'india was used in Aztec medicine for its countless therapeutic properties, most specifically for inflammation. And today, research has shown that its legendary healing components are substantiated by the exceptional content of nutrients found in every part of the plant - its pads, flowers, and especially its fruit. There are high concentrations of Vitamins C and A, fibers, and mineral salts that provide antioxidants and anti-inflammatory qualities. The large, fleshy leaves of Fico D'india are juiced and pulped, and commonly used in cosmetics for its incredible healing and moisturizing benefits. Overall, the Fico D'india is a highly concentrated source of energy and well-being.
Shop some of our favorite Fico D'india scented products from Mozzafiato