Weed Identification

Australia > > Devil's Rope Cactus

Devil's Rope Cactus

Cylindropuntia imbricata


Family: Cactaceae

Form: Shrub

Origin: Native of USA and Mexico

Flowers/Seedhead: Flowers late spring and summer.

Description: Branched cactus to 3 m high with cylindrical trunk. Segments cylindrical, to 35 cm long and to 3.5 cm diameter. Depressions (areoles) contain small bristles (glochids) and spines. Glochids and spines readily attach to skin and are difficult to remove. Fruit egg-shaped, to 4 cm wide, green to yellow. Seeds pale brown, 34 mm wide.

Distinguishing features: Distinguished by rope-like segments, surmounted by 030 spines per areole, spines to 3 cm long with the skin separating into a paper-like sheath during the first year of development; purple flowers, 37.5 cm wide with yellow anthers on purple filaments and a pale yellow stigma.

Dispersal: Spread vegetatively by segments which root where they contact the ground, and less frequently by seed.

Confused With: Other Cylindropuntia species, but this species has more obvious strands in the rope-like segments than other species present in Australia.

Flowering plant Boggabri, NSW, Nov
Photo: J.R.Hosking

Notes: Most common around old mining towns. Scattered plants also occur along a number of watercourses in eastern Australia. Can be controlled biologically using cochineal, Dactylopius tomentosus. Felling of large plants once cochineal is established often results in more rapid control compared with unfelled plants. Rope pear is also naturalised in South Africa and Spain.


    Plant Protection Quarterly. J. Hosking et al., 1988. Vol. 3, pages 115123.

Older stems
woody inside
Photo: J.R.Hosking

Rope-like segments, Yanco Agricultural Institute, NSW

Purple flower, Boggabri, Nov
Photo: J.R.Hosking

This weed has been included in the WEEDeck field guide as card S52

More information about WEEDeck is available from Sainty & Associates Pty. Ltd.


Australia > > Devil's Rope Cactus


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