prickly pear

Opuntia spp. other than O. aurantiaca, O. elata, O. ficus-indica, O. microdasys, O. monacantha, O. stricta, O. streptacantha and O. tomentosa

There are almost 300 species of the genus Opuntia (Scheinvar, 1995). Opuntioid cacti vary significantly in their form and habit, ranging from low-growing shrubs under 50 cm to erect trees up to 8 m tall. Plants are normally leafless succulent shrubs. Stems are divided into segments (pads or joints) that are flat and often incorrectly called leaves.

Common names 
Also known as: Common pest pear, spiny pest pear, tiger pear, drooping tree pear, velvety tree pear, Westwood pear ,
Flowering time 
Normally Spring
State declaration 
Category 3 - Must not be distributed or disposed. This means it must not be released into the environment unless the distribution or disposal is authorised in a regulation or under a permit.
Council declaration 
As per State Declaration
Known distribution 

In Queensland Opuntioid species are mainly found in low rainfall areas but can be are found in gardens,along beaches and on off shore island.


Prefers subhumid to semi-arid areas in warm temperate and subtropical regions. Varies depending on species and can range from streams, banks, and roadsides to woodlands.


Opuntioid cacti vary significantly in their form and habit, ranging from low-growing shrubs under 50 cm to erect trees up to 8 m tall.

Impact and control methods 

Dense infestations compete with native vegetation, limiting the growth of small shrubs and groundcover species. The plant’s sharp spines or barbs can cause injury to stock and native animals and contaminate wool and hides, reducing or preventing grazing activities and productivity. Large stands of cacti provide harbour for pest animals, such as foxes and rabbits and, due to their spiny nature, can limit access for stock mustering and recreational activities. The spines are capable of causing serious injury to animals and humans.

Stem and leaves 

Perennial, leafless, succulent shrub, usually 50–100cm tall. Stems are spiny, flattened, leafless, divided into segments (pads or joints). Skin is thick, tough, drought-resistant.

Flowers and fruits 

Flowers are large, 6cm wide, range from yellow, orange, red, pink and purple to white form seen during spring. Fruit is pear-shaped, bristly, varies from red to purple, orange, yellow and green.

Reproduction and dispersal 

Seed and vegatively previously propagated as an ornamental plant

Similar species 

Cylindropuntia spp., Austrocylindropuntia spp