More cacti have now been declared weeds: what you need to know

Some species of Opuntia, Cylindropuntia and Austrocylindropuntia are now declared weeds under the Weeds Management Act.

What are the declaration classifications?

Prickly pears (Opuntia species) and their relatives (Cylindropuntia species and Austrocylindropuntia species), which are collectively known as opuntioid cacti, are very serious weeds of grazing lands and conservation areas. They are now declared to be Class A weeds (to be eradicated) throughout the NT, and Class C weeds (not to be introduced to the NT).

Previously only the prickly pears (Opuntia spp.) were declared as Class B (growth and spread to be controlled) weeds, only south of the town of Elliott. Some of these cacti are grown in urban and rural gardens as ornamental plants or for fruit. The new declaration requires all existing plantations to be destroyed.

Why are more cacti being declared?

Why are opuntioid cacti being declared as Class A weeds (to be eradicated) and Class C weeds (not to be introduced).

Opuntioid cacti are highly invasive and can take over vast areas of grazing and conservation land. They cause heavy losses to the pastoral industry, great environmental damage, and severe injury, pain and suffering to stock and native animals.

In the NT opuntioid cacti are still in the early stage of invasion and most infestations are still relatively small. This means that there is a high feasibility of control and eradication with appropriate effort.

How do I know if I have one of the new declared cacti species at my place?

Weed Management Officers will be working with landholders in areas currently affected by cacti to increase awareness for early detection and control, and also to help identify these newly declared species in urban gardens.

Many ornamental cacti are not affected by the new declaration. Identification and management material will be made available on Department of Land Resource Management website (www.lrm.nt.gov.au), including the Field Identification Guide for opuntioid cacti. Staff of the Management Branch or NT Herbarium, both within the Department of Land Resource Management, can assist with identification advice for more difficult species.

Need more information?

Call the Weed Management Branch
Alice Springs: 08 8951 9210
Email: weedinfo@nt.gov.au

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Last updated: 13 September 2016