Thursday, February 15, 2007

The Invasion of South Africa Biome by Feral Species (Opuntia Stricta - Prickle Pears)

The Opuntia Stricta has invaded South Africa biomes. It was regarded as the feral species, this because it invade the rocky slopes and river banks from domesticated environment. Opuntia Stricta is an indigenous species of North America1. It has been introduced in South Africa and other continent as ornamental plant, garden plant and it was used as a fence. The species grow as shrub.1

The Opuntia Stricta has a fleshy stem with no leaves 3.The fleshy stem grows like leaves and it has spines with hairy features. The spines make it unpalatable to other animal species. The Opuntia Stricta bears fruits that are palatable to humans. It was studied that it can cure sugar diabetes and stomach-ache. It also helps to reduce alcohol hangover. 3

Opuntia Stricta favourable habitant is in the rocky slopes and in river banks. However, it also invades disturbed area such as cultivated area and wetlands. The Opuntia Stricta has invaded the rocky slopes and riverbanks out compete the indigenous species.1

In south Africa Opuntia Stricta has been declared weeds this because when it invade the area it grows in dense that end up restricting the growth of other plant species. In Kruger National park (South Africa), the Opuntia Stricta has invaded large area. When opuntia stricta invade the area, it replaces other species.1

The opuntia stricta spread through garden wastes, some with water current.1 The Opuntia Stricta have the ability to grow from any parts of its fleshy stem. Birds and animal can spread other species of opuntia stricta like common pear 2. The management of this opuntia stricta considered difficulty when is done physically. This because it can grow again if it is not disposed well 2. Spraying with woody weeds and biological control are effective if they are applied well. This is because in warm climates it needs to be reapplied again in winter.2

In general, the feral species can have more impact in our ecosystem. This need to be addressed and managed before the species invades our biome from domesticated species.


1. Global invasive species Database, 2006. [Internet] Cited 2006 Jan 24 Available from:

2. Opuntia stricta [Internet] Cited 2006 Jan 24 Available from: Wikipedia contributors. Opuntia [Internet]. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia; 2007 Jan 22, 19:39 UTC [cited 2007 Jan 24]. Available from: