Prickly pear is a general term used to describe Opuntia spp., members of the Cactaceae family that all originate in the Americas.
The most significant, and famous, prickly pear Opuntia stricta was introduced into pastoral districts in the 1840s. By 1925, prickly pear had invaded more than 24 million ha in Queensland and New South Wales.
Biosecurity Queensland encourages people to report Class 1 pest plants and take actions to help stop the establishment, prevent the spread of and control all declared pests in Queensland.
Opuntia spp. other than O. ficus-indica
Common pest pear, spiny pest pear, tiger pear, drooping tree pear, velvety tree pear, Westwood pear
Drought resistant because of their succulent nature, their lack of leaves and their thick, tough skins. These features result in plants that use the majority of their internal tissues for water storage and their outer parts to reduce water loss and damage by grazing and browsing animals. They can remain vigorous in hot, dry conditions that cause most other plants to lose vigour or even die. Some species develop underground bulbs that enable the plant to resist fire and mechanical damage.
Reproduce both sexually and asexually. Seeds have hard seed coats that allow them to survive heat and lack of water. Asexual reproduction (cloning) of prickly pears occurs when pads (joints, segments) or fruits located on the ground take root and produce shoots. Animals and floods move broken pads long distances. These pads can survive long periods of drought before weather conditions allow them to set roots
Spread by birds and animals eating the fruit and excreting viable seed.
O. ficus-indica is not declared. O. stricta, O. aurantiaca, O. monacantha, O. tomentosa and O. streptacantha species are Class 2 declared pest plants. All other species are declared Class 1.