Pacific Island Ecosystems at Risk (PIER)

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Opuntia stricta
(Haw.) Haw., Cactaceae
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Present on Pacific Islands?  yes

Primarily a threat at high elevations?  no

Risk assessment results:  Reject, score:20 (Go to the risk assessment)

Common name(s): [more details]

English: erect prickly-pear, southern spineless cactus

Habit:  cactus

Description:  "Spreading to erect shrub to 2 m. Basal stem-segments sometimes thickened, trunk-forming; upper segments elliptic to obovate, 10-35 cm long, 7-20 cm wide, glabrous, dull green to grey-green. Leaves conical, 4.5-6 mm long. Spines up to 11 per areole, 1-6 cm long, yellow to brown; glochids yellow. Flowers 5-6.5 cm diameter; petaloid lobes spreading, yellow. Fruit obovoid with depressed apex, 4-6 cm long, 2.5-4 cm diameter, purple. Seeds 4-5 mm long, pale brown" (George, 1984; p. 71).

Habitat/ecology:  Invades grass- and shrubland, rangeland, disturbed sites.  "In the native range, this cactus grows on coastal dunes, on shell mounds, and in coastal hammocks.  The plant spreads rapidly and forms extensive thorny thickets that impede wildlife and replace native vegetation"  (Weber, 2003; p. 291).

Propagation:  "Seeds are dispersed by birds and mammals, and remain viable for more than ten years.  Dislodged stem segments are carried by streams and root easily, forming new infestations"  (Weber, 2003; p. 291).

Native range:  "Tropical and subtropical coast of eastern North America, Bermuda, West Indies and adjacent South America" (George, 1984; p. 71).

Presence:

Pacific
Country/Terr./St. &
Island group
Location Cited status &
Cited as invasive &
Cited as cultivated &
Cited as aboriginal introduction?
Reference &
Comments
New Caledonia
New Caledonia Archipelago
Île Grande Terre introduced
invasive
Tassin, Jacques (2005)
New Caledonia
New Caledonia Archipelago
Île Grande Terre introduced
invasive
MacKee, H. S. (1994) (p. 25)
Vouchers cited: Guillaumin 8548, MacKee 24784, MacKee 34624
Spontané
Solomon Islands
Solomon Islands
Solomon 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
Australia
Australia (continental)
Australia (continental) introduced
U.S. Dept. Agr., Agr. Res. Serv. (2013)
Australia
Australia (continental)
Queensland introduced
invasive
Cronk, Q. C. B./Fuller, J. L. (2001) (p. 176)
China
China
Hong Kong introduced
invasive
cultivated
Wu, Te-lin (2001) (p. 75)
Cultivated or naturalized.
Mexico
Mexico
Mexico (United Mexican States) native
U.S. Dept. Agr., Agr. Res. Serv. (2013)

Control: 

Physical:  "Smaller infestations may be removed manually".

Chemical:  "The best time for chemical control is before fruit swelling occurs, because seeds from unripe fruits are also viable.  A very effective control is applying MSMA by stem injection.  Frequent follow-up programmes are necessary to treat regrowth and seedlings"  (Weber, 2003; p. 291).

Biological: "The biological control of prickly pear, largely by the introduction of the Phycitid moth Cactoblastis cactorum Berg. from Argentina, is one of the most spectacular successes of economic entomology" (George, 1984; p. 71).

Opuntia stricta is also controlled by a cochineal insect, Dactylopius opuntiae.

Additional information:
Information from the Global Invasive Species Database.
Fact sheet from the Government of Queensland, Australia. (PDF format).

Additional online information about Opuntia stricta is available from the Hawaiian Ecosystems at Risk project (HEAR).

Information about Opuntia stricta as a weed (worldwide references) may be available from the Global Compendium of Weeds (GCW).

Taxonomic information about Opuntia stricta may be available from the Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN).

References:

Cronk, Q. C. B./Fuller, J. L. 2001. Plant invaders. Earthscan Publications, Ltd., London. 241 pp.

George, A. S., ed. 1984. Flora of Australia. Vol. 4, Phytolaccaceae to Chenopodiaceae. Australian Government Publishing Service, Canberra.

MacKee, H. S. 1994. Catalogue des plantes introduites et cultivées en Nouvelle-Calédonie. Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle, Paris, 164 p.

Swarbrick, John T. 1997. Weeds of the Pacific Islands. Technical paper no. 209. South Pacific Commission, Noumea, New Caledonia. 124 pp.

Tassin, Jacques. 2005. Jacques Tassin (IAC-CIRAD), personal communication.

U.S. Dept. Agr., Agr. Res. Serv. 2013. National Genetic Resources Program. Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN). Online searchable database.

Weber, Ewald. 2003. Invasive plants of the World. CABI Publishing, CAB International, Wallingford, UK. 548 pp.

Wu, Te-lin. 2001. Check List of Hong Kong Plants. Hong Kong Herbarium and the South China Institute of Botany. Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department Bulletin 1 (revised). 384 pp.


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

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This page was created on 1 JAN 1999 and was last updated on 11 JAN 2011.