• General
  • Distribution
  • Impact
  • Management
  • Bibliography
  • Contact
  • Infestation of Opuntia stricta in the Flinders Ranges, South Australia (Photo: Colin Wilson)
  • Flower and cladodes of Opuntia stricta in the Flinders Ranges, South Australia (Photo: Colin Wilson)
  • Opuntia stricta fruits (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)
  • Cactoblastis cactorum feeding on Opuntia stricta (Photo: Ignacio Baez, USDA Agricultural Research Service, Bugwood.org)
Common name
nopal estricto (Spanish), common prickly pear (English), erect prickly pear (English), Araluen pear (English), common pest pear (English), gayndah pear (English), spiny pest pear (English), sour prickly pear (English), suurturksvy (English), pest pear of Australia (English), Australian pest pear (English), chumbera (Spanish), Feigenkaktus (German)
Cactus strictus , Haw.
Opuntia airampo , Phil.
Opuntia bartramii , Raf.
Opuntia anahuacensis , Griffiths
Opuntia atrocapensis , Small
Opuntia dillenii , (KerGawl.) Haw.
Opuntia gomei , Griffiths
Opuntia gilvoalba , Griffiths
Opuntia cyanella , Griffiths
Opuntia bentonii , Griffiths
Opuntia humilis , (Haw.) Haw.
Opuntia inermis , (DC.) DC.
Opuntia keyensis , Britton ex Small
Opuntia laxiflora , Griffiths
Opuntia longiclada , Griffiths
Opuntia magnifica , Small
Opuntia maritima , Raf.
Opuntia nitens , Small
Opuntia parva , A.Berger
Opuntia spinalba , Raf.
Opuntia stricta ,(Haw.) Haw.var. dillenii (KerGawl.) L.D.Benson
Opuntia tenuiflora , Small
Opuntia zebrina , Small
Opuntia horrida , Salm-Dyck ex DC.
Opuntia tunoides , Gibbes
Opuntia macrarthra , Gibbes
Cactus opuntia ,L.var. inermisDC.
Similar species
Opuntia ficus-indica
Opuntia stricta is a cactus that can grow up to 2 metres in height and originates in central America. This spiny shrub favours habitats such as rocky slopes, river banks and urban areas. Opuntia stricta was considered to be Australia's worst ever weed. Opuntia stricta is also invasive in South Africa, where biological options are currently being explored to control the problem.
Species Description
Spreading to an erect shrub to 2 metres. Basal stem-segments sometimes thickened, trunk-forming; uppersegmets elliptic to obovate, 10-35cm long, 7-20cm wide, glabrous, dull green to grey-green. Leaves conical, 4.5-6mm long. Spines up to 11 per areole, 1-6cm long, yellow to brown; glochids yellow. Flowers 5-6.5cm diam.; petaloid lobes spreading, yellow. Fruit obovoid with depressed apex, 4-6cm long, 2.5-4cm diam., purple. Seeds 4-5mm long, pale brown.” (George, 1984, In PIER, 2003)
Cultivated for Medicinal/culinary uses in some areas
Seed. The segments will take root from the \"eyes\" if left in contact with the ground, and because they are so succulent, they remain capable of rooting for several months after being detached from the parent plant. They can be moved in floods leading to infestations along river banks.
This plant came to Australia on the first fleet, making it the oldest weed. Early settlers in Australia planted O. stricta for ornamental purposes and as hedges to keep cattle under control before barbed wire became affordable. (Australian Plants online, 1999)

Principal source:

Compiler: IUCN/SSC Invasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG)

Review: Under revision

Publication date: 2010-06-12

Recommended citation: Global Invasive Species Database (2024) Species profile: Opuntia stricta. Downloaded from http://www.iucngisd.org/gisd/species.php?sc=104 on 23-07-2024.

Countries (or multi-country features) with distribution records for Opuntia stricta
  • atlantic - western central
  • bermuda
  • central america
  • cuba
  • mexico
  • north america
  • south america
  • united states
  • west indies
Informations on Opuntia stricta has been recorded for the following locations. Click on the name for additional informations.
Lorem Ipsum
Location Status Invasiveness Occurrence Source
Details of Opuntia stricta in information
Arrival date
Species notes for this location
Location note
Management notes for this location
Ecosystem services:
Impact information
Red List assessed species 1: EX = 1;
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[1] Environmental Ecosystem - Habitat
  • [1] Modification of successional patterns
Management information
24 references found for Opuntia stricta

Management information
AME, 2004 Agence M�diterran�enne de l Environnement. Plantes Envahissantes de la Region Mediterraneenne. Opuntia spp.
Australian Plants online, 1999. Weeds - The Silent Invaders. Australian Plants online - December 1999.
Summary: An article on different weeds in Australia and a little caption on each one. This article was presented to the Society for Growing Australian Plants Queensland Region Conference, Townsville, 28 June-5 July, 1998.
Available from: http://farrer.riv.csu.edu.au/ASGAP/APOL16/dec99-2.html [Accessed 16 July 2003].
Eurobodalla Shire Council (ESC), undated. Opuntia spp.
Summary: Some information on the Common prickly pear in Australia.Available from: http://www.esc.nsw.gov.au/Weeds/Sheets/shrubs/S%20Prickly%20pear.htm [Accessed 15 July 2003]
European and Mediterranean Plant Protection Organization (EPPO), 2005. Reporting Service 2005, No. 9.
Summary: The EPPO Reporting Service is a monthly information report on events of phytosanitary concern. It focuses on new geographical records, new host plants, new pests (including invasive alien plants), pests to be added to the EPPO Alert List, detection and identification methods etc. The EPPO Reporting Service is published in English and French.
Available from: http://archives.eppo.org/EPPOReporting/2005/Rse-0509.pdf [Accessed 28 November 2005]
Hoffmann, J.H., Moran, V.C. & Zeller, D.A. 1998. Evaluation of Cactoblastis cactorum (Lepidoptera: Phycitidae) as a biological control agent of Opuntia stricta (Cactaceae) in the Kruger National Park, South Africa. Biological Control. 12: 20-24.
Summary: Publication on the Biological control of O. stricta in South Africa.
Hoffmann, J.H., Moran, V.C. & Zeller, D.A. 1998. Long-term population studies and the development of an integrated management programme for control of Opuntia stricta in Kruger National Park, South Africa. Journal of Applied Ecology, 35: 156-160.
Summary: Long-term population studies and the development of an integrated management programme for control of Opuntia stricta in Kruger National Park, South Africa.
IUCN/SSC Invasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG)., 2010. A Compilation of Information Sources for Conservation Managers.
Summary: This compilation of information sources can be sorted on keywords for example: Baits & Lures, Non Target Species, Eradication, Monitoring, Risk Assessment, Weeds, Herbicides etc. This compilation is at present in Excel format, this will be web-enabled as a searchable database shortly. This version of the database has been developed by the IUCN SSC ISSG as part of an Overseas Territories Environmental Programme funded project XOT603 in partnership with the Cayman Islands Government - Department of Environment. The compilation is a work under progress, the ISSG will manage, maintain and enhance the database with current and newly published information, reports, journal articles etc.
Land Protection, 2003. PP29, Prickly pear identification and their control. NRM facts, Pest Series. The State of Queensland (Department of Natural Resources and Mines).
Lotter, W.D. & Hoffman J.H. 1998. An integrated management plan for the control of Opuntia stricta (Cactaceae) in the Kruger National Park, South Africa. Koedoe, 41: 63-68.
Summary: An integrated management plan for the control of Opuntia stricta (Cactaceae) in the Kruger National Park, South Africa.
Monteiro A, Cheia V. M, Vasconcelos T & Moreira I., 2005. Management of the invasive species Opuntia stricta in a Botanical Reserve in Portugal. Weed Research 45, 193-201.
PIER (Pacific Island Ecosystems at Risk), 2003. Opuntia stricta
Summary: Ecology, synonyms, common names, distributions (Pacific as well as global), management and impact information.
Available from: http://www.hear.org/pier/species/opuntia_stricta.htm[Accessed 15 July 2003]
South African National Parks. Kruger National Park: Scientific Services. Biological Control Of Opuntia stricta In The Kruger National Park.
Swaziland s Alien Plants Database., Undated. Opuntia stricta
Summary: A database of Swaziland s alien plant species.
Volchnasky, C.R., Hoffmann, J.H. AND Zimmermann, H.G. 1999. Host-plant affinities of two biotypes of Dactylopius opuntiae (Homoptera: Dactylopiidae): enhanced prospects for biological control of Opuntia stricta (Cactaceae) in South Africa. Journal of Applied Ecology. In Press.
Summary: Host-plant affinities of two biotypes of Dactylopius opuntiae (Homoptera: Dactylopiidae): enhanced prospects for biological control of Opuntia stricta (Cactaceae) in South Africa.
Wilson, Colin, Wildlife Management Officer, Department of Infrastructure, Planning and Environment, Parks & Wildlife Service, Northern Territory, Australia.
Summary: Compilor of original GISD profile of Chromoleana odorata.
General information
Fuentes, A. R., undated. Lista de los cactus nativos y naturalizados de Cuba
Summary: Available from: http://www.uh.cu/centros/jbn/descargas/cactus/3.pdf [Accessed January 11 2012]
Gimeno, I. and Vila, M. 2002. Recruitment of two Opuntia species invading abandoned olive groves. Acat Oecologiaca 23: 239-246
Summary: Notes on Invasions.
Henderson, Lesley. 1995. Plant Invaders of Southern Africa. Plant Protection Research Institute Handbook No 5. Agricultural Research Council.
Summary: A pocket field guide to the identification of 161 of the most important and potentially important alien species in South Africa.
ITIS (Integrated Taxonomic Information System), 2005. Online Database Opuntia stricta
Summary: An online database that provides taxonomic information, common names, synonyms and geographical jurisdiction of a species. In addition links are provided to retrieve biological records and collection information from the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) Data Portal and bioscience articles from BioOne journals.
Available from: http://www.cbif.gc.ca/pls/itisca/taxastep?king=every&p_action=containing&taxa=Opuntia+stricta&p_format=&p_ifx=plglt&p_lang= [Accessed March 2005]
MacKee, H.S. 1994. Catalogue des plantes introduites et cultiv�es en Nouvelle-Cal�donie, 2nd edn. MNHN, Paris.
Summary: Cet ouvrage liste 1412 taxons (esp�ces, sous esp�ces et vari�t�s) introduits en Nouvelle-Cal�donie. L auteur pr�cise dans la majorit� des cas si l esp�ce est cultiv�e ou naturalis�e.
Meyer, J.-Y., Loope, L., Sheppard, A., Munzinger, J., Jaffre, T. 2006. Les plantes envahissantes et potentiellement envahissantes dans l archipel n�o-cal�donien : premi�re �valuation et recommandations de gestion. in M.-L. Beauvais et al. (2006) : Les esp�ces envahissantes dans l�archipel n�o-cal�donien, Paris, IRD �ditions, 260 p.+ c�d�rom.
Vila, M And Gimeno, I. 2003. Seed predation of two alien Opuntia species invading Mediterranean communities. Plant Ecology 167: 1-8
Summary: Notes on Invasions.
Vila,M., Burriel, J.A, Pinoj, Chamizo J, Llach E, Porterias, M. And Vives M. 2003.Association between Opuntia species invasion and changes in land-cover in the Mediterranean region. Global Change Biology 9: 1234-1239
Summary: Notes on spread.
Wunderlin & Hansen, 2003. Atlas of Florida Vascular Plants. Institute for Systematic Botany.
Summary: Synonyms.
The following 1 contacts offer information an advice on Opuntia stricta
Geographic region: Pacific, Indian Ocean
Ecosystem: Terrestrial
Expert in the botany of French Polynesia and the Pacific Islands, and has worked on ecology and biological control of Miconia calvescens in French Polynesia.
D�l�gation � la Recherche
D�l�gation � la Recherche, Gouvernement de Polyn�sie fran�aise. B.P. 20981, 98713 Papeete, Tahiti, Polyn�sie fran�aise
689 47 25 60
Opuntia stricta
nopal estricto, common prickly pear, erect prickly pear, Araluen pear, common pest pear, gayndah pear, spiny pest pear, sour prickly pear, suurturksvy, pest pear of Australia, Australian pest pear, chumbera, Feigenkaktus
Date assessed
Year published
Eicat category
Justification for EICAT assessment
Confidence rating
Mechanism(s) of maximum impact
Countries of most severe impact
Description of impacts
Recommended citation
(2024). Opuntia stricta. IUCN Environmental Impact Classification for Alien Taxa (EICAT).