Prickly Pear

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Opuntia monacantha, O. stricta, O. tomentosa


The term ‘prickly pear’ relates to the fruit that is often spiny and pear shaped.

Leaves it’s a leafless succulent shrub but stems are flat segments that can be incorrectly called leaves. Young shoots have true leaves resembling small fleshy scales that fall off as it matures.

Flowers are large, normally seen during spring and are yellow, orange, red, pink, purple or white. Fruit can be red, purple, orange, yellow or green. Spots with clusters of spines are found on the segments of the stem and fruit. Each of these spots contains a growing point that can produce roots or shoots.

Fruits located on the ground can also take root and produce shoots.

Seeds have hard coats that allow them to survive heat and lack of water.

Habitat they are wide spread throughout the brigalow and other woodlands.

Weed characteristics it is drought resistant. Some species develop underground bulbs that enable the plant to resist fire and mechanical damage.

Dispersal seeds are spread by birds and animals eating the fruit and excreting the seed. Floods can also move broken segments long distances. Any part of the plant located on the ground can take root and produce shoots.

Declaration Details

This species is a Class 2 declared plant under Queensland legislation.

How to act

Hot fires, foliar spraying and chemical injection in the plant work well on infestations.Mechanical treatments are not effective and can spread the weed further. The best long term control is biological. However, this is often not effective in coastal areas subject to salt-laden wind.

Refer to Weed Control Methods.


Related information

Prickly Pear © NQ Dry Tropics 2011
Prickly Pear © NQ Dry Tropics 2011

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