Opuntia monacantha and other spp.

Drooping prickly pear

Family: Cactaceae

Origin: South America

A large drooping prickly pear with spiky needles.
Each stem segment grows up to 40cm long.
Photo credit: Richard Gribble

Regional Pest Management Plan (RPMP) status

  • Whole region — Sustained control
  • Hauraki Gulf Controlled Area Notice pest

View more about the RPMP statuses

General description

Group of large cacti < 4 m tall. Trunks are thick and cylindrical, with a drooping habit on large specimens. Stem segments are green/blue, < 40 cm in diameter, flattened oval/circular and spiny. Flowers are yellow, red tinged, < 9 cm in diameter, and borne in February – May. Fruit is < 75 x 35 mm.

What you need to know

To help protect our environment:

  • You must not breed, distribute, release or sell drooping prickly pear within the Auckland region.
  • You must not plant drooping prickly pear within the Auckland region, unless you are transferring an existing plant on your land to another location within the boundaries of the same property.
  • You must destroy any drooping prickly pear on land that you occupy if it has been planted in breach of the above rules and you are directed to do so by an authorised person.

Habitats

Coastal habitats, cliffs, sand dunes, scrub, pasture, roadsides, sparse canopy.

Dispersal

Seed dispersed by birds. Vegetative spread from stem segments, dispersed by gravity and water. Human-mediated dispersal through deliberate plantings.

Impact on environment

May outcompete and exclude native species in coastal ecosystems, causing substantial structural changes. May impede access to coastal areas.

Control

Site Management

Follow up treated areas 3 times per year. Encourage natural regeneration of native plants or replant treated areas where possible after 2-3 treatments to establish dense ground cover and minimise reinvasion.

Recommended approaches

Physical control

Method: Dig out.

Plant parts requiring disposal: All parts.

Disposal options: Remove to greenwaste or landfill.

Biocontrol

Biocontrol is currently not available for this species.

Community agrichemical control recommendations

No qualifications:

For small infestations: Foliar spray with 3g metsulfuron-methyl plus 150ml glyphosate per 10L of water.

Basic Growsafe certified:

For medium to large infestations: Foliar spray with 3g metsulfuron-methyl plus 150ml glyphosate per 10L of water and 10ml penetrant.

Certified Handler/Experienced agrichemical user: Follow up treated areas 3 times per year. Encourage natural regeneration of native plants or replant treated areas where possible after 2-3 treatments to establish dense ground cover and minimise reinvasion.

Safety notes

Plant has spines.

Caution: When using any herbicide or pesticide please read the label thoroughly to ensure that all instructions and safety requirements are followed.

Hard spiny leaves of drooping prickly pear.
Drooping prickly pear is a large cactus to about 4m high, often with thick cylindric trunk.
Photo credit: Richard Gribble
An overgrown cluster of drooping prickly pear.
It can form dense stands.
Photo credit: Richard Gribble