Alternative common names:
Harrisia cactus, moon cactus, moonlight cactus, snake cactus.
Midnight lady is a perennial with spiny, fleshy-jointed stems. The stems are ribbed lengthwise with six ribs. The plant forms dense infestations that reduce pastures. Its spines cause injuries and lameness to stock.
Where does this species come from?Southern South America.
What is its invasive status in South Africa?NEMBA Category 1a.
Where in South Africa is it a problem?Western Cape, Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga, northern Gauteng and Limpopo.
How does it spread?The seeds are spread by birds and other animals that eat the fruit. Stem segments may be dispersed by animals, vehicles and in dumped garden waste.
Why is it a problem?
It forms dense infestations that reduce pastures by choking out other pasture species. The spines interfere with stock mustering and movement, and cause injuries and lameness to stock.
What does it look like?
Leaves: Leaves are small, insignificant and deciduous and are reduced into spines.
Flowers: The large, showy flowers (15-20cm long) are borne singly along the stems. They consist of many white or pinkish petals that are fused together into a tube at the base.
Fruit/seeds: The fleshy fruit are bright red when mature and almost rounded in shape. These fruit (2-6cm across) are covered in small swellings (areoles) on which groups of 3-5 spines are sometimes borne.
Does the plant have any uses?