Indian fig (Opuntia ficus-indica)

Also known as: prickly pear, spineless cactus, cacti

Indian fig is a cactus without spines. It is grown by gardeners for its edible fruit.

This weed belongs to the group Prickly pears - Opuntias

Profile

How does this weed affect you?

Indian fig was brought into Australia from South America almost 200 years ago. The plant has never caused any problems to rural production. It spreads slowly and is easily eradicated.

Indian Fig was removed from the list of prohibited plants in 1978 and its fruit is grown commercially.

What does it look like?

Indian fig can grow up to 7 m tall. The pads are are bluish-green with no or very few short spines. The yellow flowers are present in late spring-summer. The fruit is egg-shaped to oval with a depressed top. Ripe fruit may be yellow, orange, red or purple, depending on cultivar. 

Where is it found?

Indian fig grows sporadically in NSW. It is thought to be native to southern North America.

Indian fig prefers sandy, loamy, well-drained soil.

More information

back to top

Control

Physical control

Dig up small plants or seedlings in isolated infestations. Larger plants can be removed by machinery. Dispose of all plant parts appropriately.

Disposal

To dispose of cacti bury them with at least 1 m of soil over the top or burn in a hot fire. Check disposal sites regularly and control any seedlings. Alternatively contact your local council for disposal advice.

Biocontrol

Biocontrols are useful for dense infestations. Two types of cochineal insect can effectively control Indian fig: Dactylopius opuntiae ‘ficus' lineage and Dactylopius opuntiae ‘Mexican' lineage.  Biological control is suitable for areas that are environmentally sensitive, too difficult to access or where other methods would be too expensive. Cochineal insects are less effective on scattered infestations and may require redistribution at these sites. There are several species of Dactylopius that look similar but they each control different species of cactus.  It is important to use the correct type of cochineal for each species of cactus. Contact your local council weeds officer for information about using cochineal to control Indian fig.\

Chemical

Herbicides are especially useful for sparse, scattered infestations. Spray actively growing plants. Cover all parts of the plant with herbicide. Check treated plants and control new growth.

Herbicide options

WARNING - ALWAYS READ THE LABEL
Users of agricultural or veterinary chemical products must always read the label and any permit, before using the product, and strictly comply with the directions on the label and the conditions of any permit. Users are not absolved from compliance with the directions on the label or the conditions of the permit by reason of any statement made or not made in this information. To view permits or product labels go to the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority website www.apvma.gov.au

See Using herbicides for more information.


PERMIT 14442 Expires 30/06/2023
Picloram 100 g/L + Triclopyr 300 g/L + Aminopyralid 8 g/L (Grazon Extra®)
Rate: 500 mL per 100 L of water plus 0.5% Uptake spray oil
Comments: High volume application. Spray on actively growing plants. See permit for critical use comments.
Withholding period: Where product is used to control woody weeds in pastures there is a restriction of 12 weeks for use of treated pastures for making hay and silage; using hay or other plant material for compost, mulch or mushroom substrate; or using animal waste from animals grazing on treated pastures for compost, mulching, or spreading on pasture/crops.
Herbicide group: I, Disruptors of plant cell growth (synthetic auxins)
Resistance risk: Moderate


PERMIT 14442 Expires 30/06/2023
Picloram 100 g/L + Triclopyr 300 g/L + Aminopyralid 8 g/L (Grazon Extra®)
Rate: 50 mL per 10 L of water plus 50 mL Uptake spray oil.
Comments: Knapsack application - a spray volume of 3L to 4L per 10m2 should be used. See permit for critical use comments.
Withholding period: Where product is used to control woody weeds in pastures there is a restriction of 12 weeks for use of treated pastures for making hay and silage; using hay or other plant material for compost, mulch or mushroom substrate; or using animal waste from animals grazing on treated pastures for compost, mulching, or spreading on pasture/crops.
Herbicide group: I, Disruptors of plant cell growth (synthetic auxins)
Resistance risk: Moderate


PERMIT 14442 Expires 30/06/2023
Triclopyr 300 g/L + Picloram 100 g/L (Various products)
Rate: 500 mL per 100 L of water plus 0.5% Uptake spray oil
Comments: High volume application. Apply to actively growing plants. See permit for critical use comments.
Withholding period: Nil.
Herbicide group: I, Disruptors of plant cell growth (synthetic auxins)
Resistance risk: Moderate


PERMIT 14442 Expires 30/06/2023
Triclopyr 300 g/L + Picloram 100 g/L (Various products)
Rate: 50 mL per 10 L of water plus 50 mL Uptake spray oil.
Comments: Knapsack application - a spray volume of 3L to 4L per 10m2 should be used. See permit for critical use comments.
Withholding period: Nil.
Herbicide group: I, Disruptors of plant cell growth (synthetic auxins)
Resistance risk: Moderate


PERMIT 14442 Expires 30/06/2023
Triclopyr 600 g/L (Garlon® 600)
Rate: 1L per 75L of diesel
Comments: Spot spray actively growing plants.
Withholding period: Nil.
Herbicide group: I, Disruptors of plant cell growth (synthetic auxins)
Resistance risk: Moderate


PERMIT 14442 Expires 30/06/2023
Triclopyr 600 g/L (Garlon® 600)
Rate: 3L per 100L of water plus 0.5% Uptake spray oil.
Comments: High volume application Apply to actively growing plants. See permit for critical use comments.
Withholding period: Nil.
Herbicide group: I, Disruptors of plant cell growth (synthetic auxins)
Resistance risk: Moderate


PERMIT 14442 Expires 30/06/2023
Triclopyr 600 g/L (Garlon® 600)
Rate: 50 mL per 10 L of water plus 50 mL Uptake spray oil.
Comments: Knapsack application - a spray volume of 3L to 4L per 10m2 should be used. See permit for critical use comments.
Withholding period: Nil.
Herbicide group: I, Disruptors of plant cell growth (synthetic auxins)
Resistance risk: Moderate


back to top

Biosecurity duty

The content provided here is for information purposes only and is taken from the Biosecurity Act 2015 and its subordinate legislation, and the Regional Strategic Weed Management Plans (published by each Local Land Services region in NSW). It describes the state and regional priorities for weeds in New South Wales, Australia.

Area Duty
All of NSW General Biosecurity Duty
All plants are regulated with a general biosecurity duty to prevent, eliminate or minimise any biosecurity risk they may pose. Any person who deals with any plant, who knows (or ought to know) of any biosecurity risk, has a duty to ensure the risk is prevented, eliminated or minimised, so far as is reasonably practicable.

back to top


For technical advice and assistance with identification please contact your local council weeds officer.
For further information call the NSW DPI Biosecurity Helpline on 1800 680 244 or send an email to weeds@dpi.nsw.gov.au

Reviewed 2021