Pacific Island Ecosystems at Risk (PIER)

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Opuntia dillenii
(Ker Gawl.) Haw., Cactaceae
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Present on Pacific Islands?  yes

Primarily a threat at high elevations?  no

Common name(s): [more details]

Chinese: xian ren zhang

English: dildo, Eltham indian fig, sweet prickly-pear

Habit:  cactus

Description:  "Low spreading plants often forming massive and extensive clumps, rarely completely erect and branched or exceeding 2 m tall; joints obovate to oblong, 17-40 x 12-20 cm, margin and surface usually undulate, bluish green and glaucous, not readily detached; areoles slightly elevated, spines stout, 2 to 10, curved, yellow often banded with brown, flattened on one side at base, apex not noticeably retrorse-barbed, glochids numerous, yellow, wool white or brown. Leaves subulate, recurved, to 5 mm long. Flowers mostly marginal, rarely found on face of joint; perianth bright yellow, petals spreading, 4-5 cm long; ovary obovoid, 3 cm long in flower, becoming 7-9 cm long in fruit, narrowed at base. Mature fruits obovoid, bright red-purple to pinkish red, usually extremely juicy, areoles with slender spines or spineless, glochids present; seeds white" (Howard, 1989; pp. 412-413).

Habitat/ecology:  "Grass- and heathland, dry forests, shrubland, rock outcrops.  The cactus forms dense and spiny thickets that crowd out native plants and affect wildlife.  Scattered clumps expand laterally and may lead to thickets that cover large areas"  (Weber, 2003; p. 289).

In New Caledonia, "cité par Guillaumin (1962) comme trè envahissant" (MacKee, 1994; p. 25).  In Jamaica, "sandy upper beaches, salina margins, in arid scrub thickets and on some of the cays" (Adams, 1972; p. 274).

Propagation:  "The joints of this cactus dislodge and root easily.  They are carried by water streams and by animals.  Seeds are dispersed by animals feeding on the fruits"  (Weber, 2003; p. 289).

Native range:  Southern United States, Greater Antilles (Howard, 1989; pp. 412-413).

Presence:

Pacific
Country/Terr./St. &
Island group
Location Cited status &
Cited as invasive &
Cited as cultivated &
Cited as aboriginal introduction?
Reference &
Comments
Ecuador (Galápagos Islands)
Floreana Group
Floreana Island introduced
cultivated
Charles Darwin Foundation (2008)
Ecuador (Galápagos Islands)
Isabela Group
Isabela Island introduced
cultivated
Charles Darwin Foundation (2008)
Ecuador (Galápagos Islands)
Isabela Group
Volcán Sierra Negra, Isabela Island introduced
cultivated
Charles Darwin Foundation (2008)
Ecuador (Galápagos Islands)
San Cristóbal Group
San Cristóbal Island introduced
cultivated
Charles Darwin Foundation (2008)
Ecuador (Galápagos Islands)
Santa Cruz Group
Santa Cruz Island introduced
cultivated
Charles Darwin Foundation (2008)
New Caledonia
New Caledonia
New Caledonia Islands   Swarbrick, John T. (1997) (p. 94)
Pacific Rim
Country/Terr./St. &
Island group
Location Cited status &
Cited as invasive &
Cited as cultivated &
Cited as aboriginal introduction?
Reference &
Comments
China
China
China (People's Republic of) introduced
invasive
cultivated
Zhengyi, Wu/Raven, Peter H./Deyuan, Hong (2013)
Thickets, rocks, sandy soils, also cultivated as a hedge; near sea level. S. Guangdong, S. Guangxi, Hainan.
Ecuador (Mainland)
Ecuador
Ecuador (Republic of) (continental) native
U.S. Dept. Agr., Agr. Res. Serv. (2013)
Mexico
Mexico
Mexico (United Mexican States) native
U.S. Dept. Agr., Agr. Res. Serv. (2013)


Need more info? Have questions? Comments? Information to contribute? Contact PIER! (pier@hear.org)

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This page was created on 22 OCT 2002 and was last updated on 19 JAN 2011.