Alert List for Environmental Weeds
Department of the Environment and Heritage and the CRC for Australian Weed Management, 2003
ISBN 1 9209 3242 9
About the guide
Leaf cactus is on the Alert List for Environmental Weeds, a list of 28 non-native plants that threaten biodiversity and cause other environmental damage. Although only in the early stages of establishment, these weeds have the potential to seriously degrade Australia's ecosystems.
Introduced into Australia in the 1920s as a garden ornamental, and first recognised as naturalised in the suburb of Sherwood, Brisbane, leaf cactus is a potential threat to eucalypt communities in subtropical northern Australia.
Leaf cactus is native to the West Indies, Venezuela, Guyana, Brazil and Argentina. Elsewhere in the tropics, the plant has either been cultivated or has escaped. It is listed as a noxious weed in South Africa within forestry and conservation areas, due to its formation of dense infestations. In Australia the weed has been reported growing amongst riparian vegetation along the banks of rivers in Queensland and New South Wales. The plant has a tendency to form large impenetrable clumps, and its extreme thorniness makes control of large infestations difficult. Because it is one of the 12 most significant weeds in South Africa, leaf cactus could become a threat in areas of Australia with similar climatic and environmental conditions.