Prickly pest proves a real pain for all
A PRICKLY pest found lurking in sand dunes at a suburban beach has alarmed authorities, prompting warnings to coastal communities.
Residents are being asked to look out for the dangerous and invasive cactus Hudson pear ( Cylindropuntia rosea), which grows in dense, metrehigh thickets encrusted with thousands of 5cm long spines.
The spines can lodge in the flesh of people, pets and stock, causing injury and infection.
A dog-walker in the Moana beach dunes recently spotted an outbreak and alerted Onkaparinga Council, who had Natural Resources Adelaide and Mount Lofty Ranges remove and destroy the pest.
Natural Resources Management Board chairman Professor Chris Daniels is concerned it may be growing elsewhere.
An infestation in the Murraylands “now forms an impenetrable barrier against people and stock”, he said, and local authorities are working with the landowner to destroy the plant.
“It spreads quickly by shedding tiny segments, bristling with prickles, which easily attach to the fur of pets, rabbits and livestock as well as people and vehicles, establishing new plants elsewhere,” Professor Daniels said.
Urban animal and plant control support officer Henry Ruth- erford said Hudson pear was found in much the same place a decade ago, but was thought to have been eradicated.
“Cactus like the Hudson pear can become ‘weeds’ when they are no longer wanted and disposed of by illegal dumping in reserves or other open spaces,” he said. “Hudson pear draws special attention due to the great density of long and dangerous spines that cover the plant. Hudson pear cannot be handled even with thick leather gloves, and the spines will easily penetrate work boots.”
A native of Mexico, and listed as a Weed of National Significance by the Australian Government, the cactus has no biological control in Australia – although a potential control is being developed in Queensland and NSW.
Report sightings and photos to firstname.lastname@example.org. au or mobile 0429 584 080. CLARE.PEDDIE@NEWS.COM.AU