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Invasiveness Assessment - Leaf cactus (Pereskia aculeata) in Victoria

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Plant invasiveness is determined by evaluating a plant’s biological and ecological characteristics against criteria that encompass establishment requirements, growth rate and competitive ability, methods of reproduction, and dispersal mechanisms.

Each characteristic, or criterion, is assessed against a list of intensity ratings. Depending upon information found, a rating of Low, Medium Low, Medium High or High is assigned to that criterion. Where no data is available to answer a criterion, a rating of medium (M) is applied. A description of the invasiveness criteria and intensity ratings used in this process can be viewed here.

The following table provides information on the invasiveness of Leaf cactus.

A more detailed description of the methodology of the Victorian Weed Risk Assessment (WRA) method can be viewed below:

Victorian Weed Risk Assessment (WRA) method (PDF - 630 KB)
Victorian Weed Risk Assessment (WRA) method (DOC - 1 MB)
To view the information PDF requires the use of a PDF reader. This can be installed for free from the Adobe website (external link).

Common Name: Leaf cactus
Scientific name: Pereskia aculeata

Question
Comments
Rating
Confidence
Establishment
Germination requirements?“Germination generally occurs in the wetter winter and spring periods, providing there is not too much rain” (CRC Weed Management, 2003). Requires natural seasonal rainfall.
MH
M
Establishment requirements?“Seedlings germinate readily in sunshine or in shade” (de Beer, 1988).
MH
H
How much disturbance is required?“Forestry and conservation areas…amongst riparian vegetation along the banks of rivers…grows well in the subtropical eucalypt communities of southeastern Queensland” (CRC Weed Management, 2003). Invades forest margins and gaps, plantations (Henderson, 2001). Tends to establish in natural ecosystems that experience some disturbance.
MH
M
Growth/Competitive
Life form?“Shrubby to clambering vine” Henderson, 2001
ML
MH
Allelopathic properties?Not noted in CRC Weed Management (2003), de Beer (1988) or Moran & Zimmerman (1991).
L
M
Tolerates herb pressure?“Heavily spined” (Moran & Zimmerman, 1991) in “closely spaced groups…make the infested area inaccessible” (de Beer, 1988) so this would prevent herbivory. Is subject to insect herbivory in South Africa through the introduction of biocontrol agents but these are South American species (Moran & Zimmerman, 1991).
H
MH
Normal growth rate?“Grows quite vigorously in tropical and subtropical environments” (CRC Weed Management, 2003). “Reasonably vigorous…It overshadows all other vegetation and even big trees could collapse under the mass of the tangled branches” (de Beer, 1988). Growth rate has been observed to exceed most other species in the communities that it invades.
H
MH
Stress tolerance to frost, drought, w/logg, sal. etc?“Drought tolerant…dislikes too much water.” Burning has been used to control this weed, but presumably it is not flammable because fresh material was burnt in oil drums (CRC Weed Management, 2003). Frost tolerant to –3C (Faucon, 2005). Found in “dunes near the sea” (Leuenberger, 1986). Tolerant of at least 2 (drought, frost, salinity & fire) and susceptible to waterlogging.
MH
M
Reproduction
Reproductive systemSeeds and stem pieces (de Beer, 1988).
H
MH
Number of propagules produced?A picture of approximately 1 m2 of this plant shows about 400 flowers (Faucon, 2005). This plant can reach 12 m and each fruit has a single seed (CRC Weed Management, 2003), so 12 x 400 = 4,800.
H
ML
Propagule longevity?Reference to seed longevity was not found.
M
L
Reproductive period?Photographs of Pereskia from the Agricultural Research Council in South Africa (pers. comm.) show this plant forming dense monocultures.
H
MH
Time to reproductive maturity?“Local experience is that is needs to grow to 6 metres long before it will flower” (Perrin, 2003). Being “reasonably vigorous” (de Beer, 1988), you would expect the plant to reach this height in 2-5 years.
ML
ML
Dispersal
Number of mechanisms?“The fruit are eaten by birds…that spread the seeds to other areas” de Beer (1988). Pieces of the plant may be washed downstream a considerable distance” (CRC Weed Management, 2003).
H
MH
How far do they disperse?“Pieces of the plant may be washed downstream a considerable distance…Birds can move propagules…a long way from gardens” (CRC Weed Management, 2003). It is very likely that some propagules will disperse more than 1 km.
H
M


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