Barbados gooseberry (Pereskia aculeata) HPWRA Score: 13 High Risk
Impact: Barbados gooseberry is capable of adapting to a variety of environmental conditions. Viable seeds are spread by water, birds (surviving passage through the gut) and by humans. Spreads rapidly to form dense, thorny, impenetrable thickets effectively smothering other vegetation; gardens have been abandoned due to the overwhelming invasion of Barbados gooseberry. It is listed as a noxious weed in South Africa. Stems and detached leaves stay alive and can form roots months after removal from the parent plant. Extreme thorniness and vigorous growth from plant fragments make control of large infestations difficult.
Description: Climbing, vining cactus with primitive fleshy leaves and long thorns. The strongly scented flowers (lemon to pungent smell) are white with pink to orange centers. The fruit is succulent, yellow to orange, and covered in spines with many seeds inside. Two types of thorns occur on this plant: re-curved cat claw thorns that occur along new stems; and clusters of 1-2″ spines along woodier stems.
Comments from green industry professionals: “It suddenly took over my fruit trees, now I can’t eradicate it due to thorns and I can’t pick my fruit”, “Grows too large and takes over”, “Momisc (Molokai Invasive Species Committee) has been eradicating a population since 2008, it’s still not gone”, “pesticides are not readily absorbed from the leaves-cut stump is the only way to effectively control this pest”