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From nopal +‎ -ery (suffix forming nouns indicating places of arts, crafts, or practices), modelled after French nopalerie.[1] Nopal is borrowed from Spanish nopal, from Classical Nahuatl nohpalli (cactus of the genus Opuntia), from Proto-Uto-Aztecan [Term?].



nopalery (plural nopaleries)

  1. (chiefly historical) A plantation of nopal (a prickly pear cactus of the genus Opuntia, especially Opuntia cochinellifera) used as food for the cochineal insect (Dactylopius coccus), which is raised to produce carmine dye. [from late 18th c.]
    • 1783, [Guillaume Thomas François] Raynal, “Of the Culture of the Cochineal”, in J[ohn] O[badiah] Justamond, transl., A Philosophical and Political History of the Settlements and Trade of the Europeans in the East and West Indies. [], volume III, new edition, London: [] W[illiam] Strahan; and T[homas] Cadell, [], book VI (Discovery of America. Conquest of Mexico; and Settlements of the Spaniards in that Part of the New World), page 354:
      This ſpecies [the wild cochineal] multiplies more readily, ſpreads further and faſter without any aſſiſtance; ſo that a nopalry is ſoon covered with them.
      According to the Oxford English Dictionary this is the earliest occurrence of the word in print.
    • [1815 April, John Clennell, “The Natural, Chemical, and Commercial History of the Cochineal”, in The Tradesman; or, Commercial Magazine, volume V, number IV (New Series), London: J. W. Payne, [] (successor to the late Vernor, Hood, and Sharpe, []), OCLC 820617786, page 270, column 2:
      A collection of these trees [nopal] is called a Nopalery, and the Indians, who cultivate the cochineal, are called Nopaleros.]
    • [1819, [Henrietta Beaufort], “Dialogue XLV. General View of Vegetation.”, in Dialogues on Botany, for the Use of Young Persons, Explaining the Structure of Plants, and the Progress of Vegetation, London: [] [John M‘Creery] for R[owland] Hunter, successor to Mr. [Joseph] Johnson, [], OCLC 1256029033, page 439:
      [N]opal is the vernacular name of the cactus coccinellifer, and the cochineal plantations are called nopaleries.]
    • 1827 April–June, “Scientific Intelligence. [Zoology.]”, in Robert Jameson, editor, The Edinburgh New Philosophical Journal, Exhibiting a View of the Progressive Discoveries and Improvements in the Sciences and the Arts, volume III, Edinburgh: [] Adam Black, []; London: Longman, Rees, Orme, Brown, & Green, OCLC 926996861, page 195:
      In St. Vincent's, the Reverend Lansdown Guilding, a distinguished naturalist, has established a nopalery (or cochineal nursery) in his own garden; and it is believed he has already sent specimens of the dried insect to the Society of Arts in London.
    • 1832, “COCHINEAL”, in David Brewster, editor, The Edinburgh Encyclopædia, [], volume VI, 1st American edition, Philadelphia, Pa.: Joseph and Edward Parker, OCLC 926104117, page 567, column 2:
      The Indians of the district of Sola and Zimatlan establish their nopaleries on the slope of the mountains, or in ravines, two or three leagues distant from their villages. They plant the nopals, after cutting and burning the trees which covered the ground. If they continue to clean the ground twice a year, the young plants are able to maintain the cochineal in the third year. For this purpose, the proprietor of a nopalery purchases, in the months of April or May, branches or joints of the Tuna de Castilla, laden with small cochineals (semilla) recently hatched.
    • 1945, “Cochineal Cactus”, in Journal of the New York Botanical Garden, volume 46, New York, N.Y.: New York Botanical Garden, ISSN 0885-4165, OCLC 925167868, page 84, column 2:
      The cochineal industry spread rapidly, plantations called nopalries arising in such diverse regions as Spain, India, Algeria, South Africa, Jamaica, and the Canary Islands.
    • 1960, A. K. Yegna Narayan Aiyer; P. Abraham, Cultivation of Cloves in India (I.C.A.R. Bulletin), New Delhi: Indian Council of Agricultural Research, OCLC 7965299, page 5:
      This was another experimental garden started under Dr. Berry as a ‘Nopalry’ or place for the rearing of the cochineal insect on cacti, which however, became a sort of experimental garden where exotic plants were received as they arrived in the Port of Madras and were nursed and looked after until they could be despatched to the interior stations.

Alternative forms[edit]



  1. ^ nopalery, n.”, in OED Online Paid subscription required, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, September 2021; “nopalery, n.”, in Lexico,; Oxford University Press, 2019–present.

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