Pacific Island Ecosystems at Risk (PIER)

  [   PIER species lists  ]   [   PIER home  ]

Opuntia ficus-indica
(L.) Mill., Cactaceae
Click on an image for links to BIGGER PICTURES


Present on Pacific Islands?  yes

Primarily a threat at high elevations?  no

Other Latin names:  Cactus ficus-indica L.; Opuntia gymnocarpa F. A. C. Weber; Opuntia maxima Mill.

Common name(s): [more details]

Chinese: li guo xian ren zhang

English: Barbary-fig, Indian-fig, Indian-fig prickly-pear, mission cactus, mission prickly-pear, prickly pear, prickly-pear, smooth mountain prickly-pear, smooth prickly-pear, spineless cactus, tuberous prickly-pear, tuna cactus

French: figuier d'Inde, figuier de Barbarie, raquette

Hawaiian: pānini, pāpipi

Japanese: saboten-no-kajitsu

Spanish: chumba, chumbera, higuera, nopal de Castilla, nopal pelón, tuna, tuna de Castilla, tuna mansa

Habit:  cactus

Description:  "Trees 3-5 m tall, with a definite trunk; joints dull green or gray when fresh, broadly obovate, 25-60 cm long, 20-40 cm wide, margins more or less entire.  Areoles spineless or with 1-6 white or yellowish spines 1-3 cm long.  Flowers 6-7 cm long, 5-7 cm in diameter; outer perianth parts yellow with a green or reddish median stripe, 10-20 mm long, 15-20 mm wide, inner perianth parts yellow to orangish yellow, rotate, 25-30 mm long, 15-20 mm wide; staminal filaments yellow; style greenish, ca. 15 mm long; stigma lobes 8-10.  Berries greenish white to yellow, yellowish brown, or reddish purple, depending on the strain, fleshy, barrel-shaped, 5-10 cm long, 4-9 cm in diameter"  (Wagner et al., 1999; pp. 419-420).

Habitat/ecology:  "Arid bushland, grassland, coastal scrub, rocky places.  A variable cactus with several forms, including a thorny and a thornless one.  In addition, numerous cultivars have been developed and are widely used.  The plant is a large succulent that branches frequently and forms dense impenetrable thickets that crowd out native vegetation"  (Weber, 2003; p. 290).

In Hawai‘i, "naturalized in dry, disturbed habitats"  (Wagner et al., 1999; pp. 419-420).  "In Chile this species grows in the following environmental conditions:  Low altitude, interior valleys; coastal mountains, 500-2000 m; coastal areas, 0 - 500 m.  Dry, arid areas, with long drought periods of 6 - 10 months; precipitations of 100 mm-300 mm. are concentrated in winter.  Fully exposed to the sun; level areas or slopes facing north"  (Chileflora).

Propagation:  "It spreads by seeds and vegetatively by dislodged stem segments that easily root and regenerate new plants.  A single stem segment is capable of building up a dense thicket.  Seeds are dispersed by animals"  (Weber, 2003; p. 290).

Native range:  "Unknown, although most likely Mexico, cultivated since ancient times for its edible fruit, and now widely escaped and naturalized in warm parts of the world" (Wagner et al., 1999; pp. 419-420).

Presence:

Pacific
Country/Terr./St. &
Island group
Location Cited status &
Cited as invasive &
Cited as cultivated &
Cited as aboriginal introduction?
Reference &
Comments
Chile (offshore islands)
Juan Fernández Islands
Isla Más a Tierra (Robinson Crusoe Island) introduced
invasive
cultivated
Atkinson, Rachel/Sawyer, John (2011)
Chile (offshore islands)
Juan Fernández Islands
Isla Más a Tierra (Robinson Crusoe Island) introduced
cultivated
Danton, Philippe/Perrier, Christophe/Martinez Reyes, Guido (2006) (pp. 491, 537, 555)
"Sin embargo el clima insular de Juan Fernández  es posiblemente demasiado húmedo para favorecer su extensión, aunque los ejemplares presentes en el pueblo de San Juan Bautista crezcan muy adecuadamente".
Ecuador (Galápagos Islands)
Isabela Group
Isabela Island introduced
invasive
cultivated
Charles Darwin Foundation (2008)
Ecuador (Galápagos Islands)
Isabela Group
Volcán Sierra Negra, Isabela Island introduced
invasive
cultivated
Charles Darwin Foundation (2008)
Ecuador (Galápagos Islands)
San Cristóbal Group
San Cristóbal Island introduced
invasive
cultivated
Charles Darwin Foundation (2008)
Ecuador (Galápagos Islands)
Santa Cruz Group
Santa Cruz Island introduced
invasive
cultivated
Charles Darwin Foundation (2008)
French Polynesia
Society Islands
Tahiti Island introduced
cultivated
Florence, J. (2004) (p. 94)
French Polynesia
Society Islands
Tahiti Island introduced
cultivated
Florence, J./Chevillotte, H./Ollier, C./Meyer, J.-Y. (2013)
Cultivée
State of Hawaii
Hawaiian Islands
Hawai‘i (Big) Island introduced
invasive
cultivated
Wagner, Warren L./Herbst, Derral R./Sohmer, S. H. (1999) (pp. 419-420)
State of Hawaii
Hawaiian Islands
Kaho‘olawe Island introduced
invasive
cultivated
Wagner, Warren L./Herbst, Derral R./Sohmer, S. H. (1999) (pp. 419-420)
State of Hawaii
Hawaiian Islands
Kaua‘i Island introduced
invasive
cultivated
Wagner, Warren L./Herbst, Derral R./Sohmer, S. H. (1999) (pp. 419-420)
State of Hawaii
Hawaiian Islands
Lāna‘i Island introduced
invasive
Oppenheimer, Hank L./Bartlett, Randal T. (2002) (p. 5)
Voucher cited: Oppenheimer H109914 (BISH)
State of Hawaii
Hawaiian Islands
Ni‘ihau, Lehua Islet introduced
Wood, K. R./LeGrande, Maya (2006) (p. 22)
Not seen on this survey. Perhaps extirpated by biocontrol on this islands.
State of Hawaii
Hawaiian Islands
Maui Island introduced
invasive
cultivated
Wagner, Warren L./Herbst, Derral R./Sohmer, S. H. (1999) (pp. 419-420)
State of Hawaii
Hawaiian Islands
Moloka‘i Island introduced
invasive
Hughes, Guy D'Oyly (1995) (pp. 2-3)
Voucher cited: Hughes s.n. (BISH)
Common in lowland dry to mesic communities up to 750 m elevation.
State of Hawaii
Hawaiian Islands
O‘ahu Island introduced
invasive
cultivated
Wagner, Warren L./Herbst, Derral R./Sohmer, S. H. (1999) (pp. 419-420)
Pacific Rim
Country/Terr./St. &
Island group
Location Cited status &
Cited as invasive &
Cited as cultivated &
Cited as aboriginal introduction?
Reference &
Comments
Australia
Australia (continental)
Australia (continental) introduced
U.S. Dept. Agr., Agr. Res. Serv. (2013)
China
China
China (People's Republic of) introduced
invasive
cultivated
Zhengyi, Wu/Raven, Peter H./Deyuan, Hong (2013)
Hot dry valleys, rocks; 600-2900 m. W. Guangxi, S.W. Guizhou, S.W. Sichuan, S.E. Xizang, Yunnan.
Japan
Japan
Japan (country) introduced
Mito, Toshikazu/Uesugi, Tetsuro (2004) (p. 182)
Mexico
Mexico
Mexico (United Mexican States) possibly native
U.S. Dept. Agr., Agr. Res. Serv. (2013)
South America (Pacific rim)
South America (Pacific rim)
Chile (Republic of) introduced
invasive
Belov, Michail (2013)
United States (west coast)
United States (west coast states)
USA (California) introduced
invasive
Cronk, Q. C. B./Fuller, J. L. (2001) (p. 175)
Indian Ocean
Country/Terr./St. &
Island group
Location Cited status &
Cited as invasive &
Cited as cultivated &
Cited as aboriginal introduction?
Reference &
Comments
La Réunion (France)
La Réunion Island
La Réunion Island introduced
invasive
cultivated
Lavergne, Christophe (2006)
"Cultivé/naturalisé".
Seychelles
Seychelles Islands
Seychelles Islands introduced
Weber, Ewald (2003) (p. 290)

Control: 

Biological:  "This cactus has been successfully controlled in most areas in Hawaii and South Africa by two introduced insects, Dactylopius opuntiae Cockerell (Hemiptera: Dactylopiidae) and Cactoblastis cactorum Bergroth (Lepidoptera: Pyralidae)" (Cronk & Fuller, 2001; p. 176).


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

  [   PIER species lists  ]   [   PIER home  ]

This page was created on 18 JUN 2004 and was last updated on 19 JAN 2011.