Click on images to enlarge
habit (Photo: Sheldon Navie)
stem segments (Photo: Sheldon Navie)
stem segment with spines (Photo: Sheldon Navie)
flower buds and immature fruit (Photo: Sheldon Navie)
mature fruit (Photo: Sheldon Navie)
Opuntia elatior Mill.
Opuntia bergeriana A. Weber ex A. Berger
prickly pear, red-flower prickly pear
Native to Central America (i.e. Costa Rica and Panama), the Caribbean and tropical South America (i.e. Venezuela and Colombia).
This species is scattered throughout many parts of southern and central Australia. It has been recorded as naturalised in south-eastern Queensland, in some parts of New South Wales, in Victoria, in some parts of South Australia and in the southern parts of the Northern Territory. However, it is poorly collected and its distribution may be more widespread than herbarium collections would indicate (e.g. there are also reports that it is naturalised on offshore islands in Western Australia).
Red-flower prickly pear (Opuntia elatior) is regarded as a potential environmental weed or "sleeper weed" in many parts of Australia. Like other prickly pears (Opuntia spp.), this species is spread by bird-dispersed seeds and can form dense thickets of fleshy segments. It is mainly seen as a potential problem in semi-arid areas and drier coastal habitats.