Pacific Island Ecosystems at Risk (PIER)

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Nopalea cochenillifera
(L.) Salm-Dyck, Cactaceae
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Present on Pacific Islands?  yes

Primarily a threat at high elevations?  no

Risk assessment results:  High risk, score: 7 (Go to the risk assessment)

Other Latin names:  Cactus cochenillifer L.; Opuntia cochenillifera (L.) Mill.

Common name(s): [more details]

Chamorro: lengua-de-vaca

English: cochineal cactus, cochineal nopal cactus, cochineal-plant

French: cochenillier, raquette espagnole

Palauan: esbocheb

Spanish: nopal chamacuero, nopal de la cochinilla, tunita

Habit:  tree

Description:  "Shrubs or trees up to 4 m tall, with a distinct trunk; joints narrowly elliptic to narrowly obovate, 10-25 cm long, (5-) 7-12 cm wide.  Areoles spineless or rarely with 1-3 weak grayish spines ca. 1 cm long.  Flowers 4-6 cm long, 1.5-2 cm in diameter; outer perianth parts red, sometimes with a green median stripe, erect, 5-10 mm long, 4-8 mm wide, inner perianth parts red, erect, imbricate, 10-20 mm long, 8-12 mm wide; staminal filaments pink, long-exserted, 25-40 mm long; style pink, long-exserted, 25-40 mm long; stigma lobes 6-8.  Berries red, fleshy, 2.5-4 cm long, 2.5-3 cm in diameter"  (Wagner et al., 1999; p. 419).

Habitat/ecology:  In Hawai‘i, "escaped at low elevations"  (Wagner et al., 1999; p. 419).

Propagation:  Seed. Also spread through the dumping of garden waste as pieces of the plant readily take root.

Native range:  "Native range unknown, although most likely southern Mexico or northern Central America, cultivated since ancient times as a host for cochineal insects that provide cochineal dye, now widely grown as an ornamental in warm parts of the world"  (Wagner et al., 1999; p. 419).

Presence:

Pacific
Country/Terr./St. &
Island group
Location Cited status &
Cited as invasive &
Cited as cultivated &
Cited as aboriginal introduction?
Reference &
Comments
Fiji
Fiji Islands
Ovalau Island introduced
cultivated
Smith, Albert C. (1981) (p. 272)
Voucher cited DA 3002
French Polynesia
Marquesas Islands
Fatu Hiva Island introduced
cultivated
Lorence, David H./Wagner, Warren L. (2013)
French Polynesia
Marquesas Islands
Nuku Hiva (Nukahiva) Island introduced
cultivated
Lorence, David H./Wagner, Warren L. (2013)
French Polynesia
Marquesas Islands
Nuku Hiva (Nukahiva) Island introduced
invasive
Florence, J./Chevillotte, H./Ollier, C./Meyer, J.-Y. (2013)
As Opuntia cochenillifera (C. Linnaeus) P. Miller
Naturalisée
French Polynesia
Marquesas Islands
Ua Huka (Huahuna, Uahuka) Island introduced
cultivated
Lorence, David H./Wagner, Warren L. (2013)
French Polynesia
Marquesas Islands
Ua Huka (Huahuna, Uahuka) Island introduced
invasive
Florence, J./Chevillotte, H./Ollier, C./Meyer, J.-Y. (2013)
Voucher cited: L. M. Dunn 375 (PAP)
Naturalizing
French Polynesia
Marquesas Islands
Ua Pou (Huapu, Uapou, Uapu) Island introduced
cultivated
Lorence, David H./Wagner, Warren L. (2013)
French Polynesia
Marquesas Islands
Ua Pou (Huapu, Uapou, Uapu) Island introduced
cultivated
Florence, J./Chevillotte, H./Ollier, C./Meyer, J.-Y. (2013)
Voucher cited: K.R. Wood 10285 (PAP)
French Polynesia
Society Islands
Tahiti Island introduced
invasive
Florence, J./Chevillotte, H./Ollier, C./Meyer, J.-Y. (2013)
As Opuntia cochenillifera (C. Linnaeus) P. Miller
Naturalisée
French Polynesia
Tuamotu Archipelago
Makatea (Ma‘atea) Island introduced
invasive
Florence, J./Chevillotte, H./Ollier, C./Meyer, J.-Y. (2013)
As Opuntia cochenillifera (C. Linnaeus) P. Miller
Naturalisée
French Polynesia
Tuamotu Archipelago
Manihi Atoll   Bishop Museum (U.S.A. Hawaii. Honolulu.) (1967) (voucher ID: BISH 12259)
Taxon name on voucher: Opuntia cochenillifera
French Polynesia
Austral (Tubuai) Islands
Rapa Island introduced
invasive
Florence, J./Chevillotte, H./Ollier, C./Meyer, J.-Y. (2013)
As Opuntia cochenillifera (C. Linnaeus) P. Miller
Naturalisée
French Polynesia
Austral (Tubuai) Islands
Rurutu Island introduced
invasive
Florence, J./Chevillotte, H./Ollier, C./Meyer, J.-Y. (2013)
As Opuntia cochenillifera (C. Linnaeus) P. Miller
Naturalisée
Guam
Guam Island
Guam Island introduced
cultivated
Stone, Benjamin C. (1970) (p. 431)
A few plants grown in gardens.
Guam
Guam Island
Guam Island introduced
Fosberg, F. R./Sachet, Marie-Hélène/Oliver, Royce (1979) (p. 193)
State of Hawaii
Hawaiian Islands
Kaho‘olawe Island   Bishop Museum (U.S.A. Hawaii. Honolulu.) (1939) (voucher ID: BISH 12034)
Taxon name on voucher: Opuntia cochenillifera
State of Hawaii
Hawaiian Islands
Kaua‘i Island introduced
invasive
Wagner, Warren L./Herbst, Derral R./Sohmer, S. H. (1999) (p. 419)
State of Hawaii
Hawaiian Islands
Maui Island introduced
invasive
cultivated
Oppenheimer, Hank L. (2004) (p. 10)
West Maui. Voucher cited: Oppenheimer H10201 (BISH)
State of Hawaii
Hawaiian Islands
O‘ahu Island introduced
invasive
Wagner, Warren L./Herbst, Derral R./Sohmer, S. H. (1999) (p. 419)
Palau
Palau (Belau ) (main island group)
Koror (Oreor) Island introduced
Fosberg, F. R./Sachet, Marie-Hélène/Oliver, Royce (1979) (p. 193)
United States (other Pacific offshore islands)
Midway Atoll
Sand Island   Bishop Museum (U.S.A. Hawaii. Honolulu.) (1999) (voucher ID: BISH 659763)
Taxon name on voucher: Opuntia cochenillifera
Pacific Rim
Country/Terr./St. &
Island group
Location Cited status &
Cited as invasive &
Cited as cultivated &
Cited as aboriginal introduction?
Reference &
Comments
Guatemala
Guatemala
Guatemala (Republic of) probably introduced
invasive
cultivated
Standley, Paul C./Williams, Louis Otho (1962) (pp. 24(7/2)213-214)
Probably not native in Guatemala, but much planted at low and middle elevations; thoroughly naturalized in many places at middle elevations, up to 1,500 meters or even higher, perhaps the relics of former commercial plantations; often planted for hedges.
Mexico
Mexico
Mexico (United Mexican States) probably native
U.S. Dept. Agr., Agr. Res. Serv. (2013)
Singapore
Singapore
Singapore (Republic of) introduced
cultivated
Chong, Kwek Yan/Tan, Hugh T. W./Corlett, Richard T. (2009) (p. 65)
As Opuntia cochenillifer (L.) Mill.
Also reported from
Country/Terr./St. &
Island group
Location Cited status &
Cited as invasive &
Cited as cultivated &
Cited as aboriginal introduction?
Reference &
Comments
United States (continental except west coast)
United States (other states)
USA (Florida) introduced
U.S. Dept. Agr., Nat. Res. Cons. Serv. (2013)

Control:  See Global Invasive Species Database for management information.


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

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This page was created on 3 SEP 2012 and was last updated on 27 SEP 2012.