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prickly pear cactusPrickly pear cactus

Common name: Prickly pear cactus
Botanical name: Opuntia spp.
Management category: Advisory

Prickly pear is native to the Americas. There are many varieties of prickly pear cacti, but the two common and naturalised varieties in New Zealand are Opunita monocantha and O. ficus-indica.

Prickly pear is also an invasive weed in Australia where it was introduced in the 18th century and used as natural agricultural fencing. It quickly colonised vast areas of farming land, sometimes driving farmers off their land.

Why is it a pest?

It can outcompete native flora reducing an area to a monoculture of unsuitable, prickly habitat.

Where is it found?

Prickly pear cactus likes sandy, coastal areas but will grow happily in a variety of habitats. Plants can be found throughout the Bay of Plenty in backyards, roadsides and dunes.

What does it look like?

  • Can grow to 4m in height.
  • Leaves are big paddle-like structures, fleshy and heavy with spikes dotted over them.
  • Flowers are yellow and can be seen from February to May.
  • Fruit is droopy and red/purple in appearance.

What are the rules?


Council does not enforce the control of advisory species. It is landowner/occupier responsibility to manage these pests. Council may provide advice on how to manage or control advisory species if required.

How do you get rid of it?

  1. Chemical control
  2. Dig it out/grub it out – use a spade to grub out the plant and make sure to dispose of plant material in general waste. Any fragments left on the ground may take root.

Dig out any new growth and dispose of in general waste


CAUTION: When using any herbicide or pesticide, PLEASE READ THE LABEL THOROUGHLY to ensure that all instructions and directions for the purchase, use and storage of the product, are followed and adhered to.

Read more on pest control advice, information and regulations.