I. noun 1. a 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. 2. ( nopales) — the edible fleshy pads of the nopal cactus, used in Mexican cuisine.
– origin mid 18th cent.: via French and Spanish from Nahuatl nopalli ‘cactus’.