Strangler prickly apple

Strangler prickly apple

Harrisia balansae

Common Name:

Strangler prickly apple

Scientific Name:

Harrisia balansae

Alternative common names:

Cereus balansae, Cereus guelichii, Harrisia guelichii, Eriocereus guelichii


A very rare cactus with menacing looking but beautifully symmetrical spines. By summer it produces large white flowers reaching about 25 cm in diameter. The flowers are whiter then fall off to produce bright red edible fruits.Strangler prickly apple has been recorded only in two provinces of South Africa, North West and Limpopo.

Additional Information

Where does this species come from?

Argentina and Paraguay

What is its invasive status in South Africa?

NEMBA Category 1a.

Where in South Africa is it a problem?

north West and Limpopo

How does it spread?

Spreads mainly by seeds and vegetative means.

Why is it a problem?

It inhabits forests and savannah biomes mostly dominated by species of the genus Acacia and in disturbed areas. Plant has spines or sharp edges; use extreme caution when handling.

What does it look like?

Leaves: Is is a climbing succulent shrub

Flowers: Flowers large, tubular and spineless, white to pale yellow.

Fruit/seeds: Fruits bright red strongly covered with wart-like knobs.

Does the plant have any uses?

The species is utilized as food -fruits, roots and flowers- by the indigenous people. It is also occasionally used as an ornamental.

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