Opuntia – The Prickly Pear and other species
Opuntia stricta is the erect or common Prickly pear and has been declared a weed in many areas. It spreads easily by seed and also broken segments easily develop roots. Originally introduced as a hedging plant that them ‘got out of control’ it has now been contained by a cactus moth called Cactoblastis cactorum.
In Australia’s hot dry climate Opuntia stricta was quickly found to become invasive. Its seeds seem to thrive and were quickly spread by birds. Other species have similar characteristics, many forming drought tolerant underground stems that also resisted attempts to burn then out although this is good way of containing larger clumps. Digging just seemed to spread them so the Cactus Moth was the answer.
One Opuntia species, Opuntia ficus-indica, commonly called the ‘Cactus Pear’ has not been declared a weed at time of writing, and some countries is used as a food crop.the fruits are harvested and eaten. The juice is used to make a drink called Nopal.
Other well known species are
Other species also known as ‘Prickly pear include : O. humifusa, O. Ficus Indica, O.robusta, O. vulgaris.
A number of other species exist as well, not readily available for sale.