Jointed cactus

Jointed cactus

Opuntia aurantiaca (Cactaceae)

Common Name:

Jointed cactus

Scientific Name:

Opuntia aurantiaca (Cactaceae)


Alternative common names:

Jointed prickly pear (English); litjieskaktus (Afrikaans)

Description:

A spiny, many-branched, spreading cactus growing up to 1,5m high, with underground tubers. No leaves but flattened leaf-like stems are bright green, sometimes tinged with reddish-purple. Bright yellow flowers appear from November to January followed by reddish succulent fruit.

Additional Information


Where does this species come from?

South America (eastern Argentina and southern Uruguay)

What is its invasive status in South Africa?

Existing legislation: CARA 2002 - Category 1 NEMBA - Category 1b

Where in South Africa is it a problem?

Eastern and Northern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, Free State, Gauteng, Limpopo and Mpumalanga

How does it spread?

Seed dispersal.

Why is it a problem?

Competes with and replaces indigenous species. Dense infestations reduce the grazing potential and hence the carrying capacity of the land.

What does it look like?

General description: Spiny, many-branched, spreading succulent up to 1,5m high with underground tubers.
Leaves: No leaves, but flattened leaf-like stems are bright green, sometimes tinged with reddish-purple and covered in sharp, needle-like thorns.
Flowers: Bright yellow flowers appear from November to January.
Fruit/seeds: Reddish succulent fruit.

Does the plant have any uses?

Ornament.

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