Terrestrial Invasives

Pereskia aculeata

Pereskia aculeataBarbados gooseberry

Common Name 
Barbados gooseberry
Legal Status 
Emerging Weed

A succulent and perennial plant from tropical South America introduced as ornamental and barrier plant. It is a spiny vine in the Cactaceae family with strongly scented flowers in white, cream or pinkish, 2.5–5 cm diameter. The leaves are 4–11 cm long and 1.5–4 cm broad, simple, entire, and deciduous in the dry season. Younger stems have hooked thorns and older stems have clusters of woody spines. Leaves and fruits are edible and the seeds are spread by birds and other animals feeding on the fruit.

Where does this species come from? 
Native to Central America (i.e. Panama), the Caribbean and South America (i.e. French Guiana, Guyana, Surinam, Venezuela, Brazil, Colombia, Argentina and Paraguay).
Why is it a problem? 
It is listed as a noxious weed in South Africa within forestry and conservation areas, due to its formation of dense infestations. The plant has a tendency to form large impenetrable clumps, and its extreme thorniness makes control of large infestations difficult. This plant has been listed in the top 12 most significant weeds in South Africa.
Means of reproduction? 
This species reproduces by seed and also vegetatively via its fleshy stems. Seeds are most commonly dispersed by birds, and possibly also other animals, that eat the fleshy fruit. Seeds and stem segments may also be spread during floods and in dumped garden waste.