We are used to seeing prickly pear plants all over this country. All prickly pears here are regarded as alien invasives even though some are used for fodder and many people enjoy eating their fruit.
The unusual purple fruits of these plants on a farm in the Stormberg area caught my eye. They are from the Small Round-leaved Prickly Pear (Opuntia engelmannii), also known as the Kleinronderblaarturksvy.
The plant, which can grow to 1, 5m tall, is smaller than the more common ones we come across.
As you can see, the plant has long white spines and bears purple, fleshy, edible fruits.
Like so many alien invasive plants, the Opuntia engelmanii was probably introduced as an ornamental plant that has since escaped the boundaries of gardens. Originating from North and Central America, it has been listed as a noxious weed in this country since 1984 and is a particular problem in the Limpopo, Eastern Cape, Western Cape, Northern Cape, Gauteng and Free State provinces. The spines can injure livestock and wild herbivores and its presence in grazing areas can curtail the movement of such animals.