Explore Plants

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 

Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Tuesday - March 30, 2010

From: Palo Pinto, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Cacti and Succulents
Title: Eradicating cactus in Palo Pinto County, TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I live on a ranch in Palo Pinto County and would like to know how can I get rid of wild cactus.

ANSWER:

Do you have any idea how many different genera of plants go under the name "cactus?" This website CactiGuide.com will give you an idea. When we searched our Native Plant Database on "cactus," we found 49 different species with that word in their common name native to Texas. However, we are betting, given that you live in the western part of North Central Texas, and knowing the landscape around there, that you are dealing with the genus Opuntia, Prickly Pear. Even there, there is a lot to choose from: 23 species native to North America and 18 native to Texas. We found that Opuntia engelmannii (cactus apple) is shown in this USDA Plant Profile as growing natively in your area, so we'll take that as an example. 

Now, how to get rid of that plant? Well, it isn't going to be easy-it has lived there a whole lot longer than humans have, and is very adapted to the rainfall, temperatures and soils. On the website invasives.org we found this website on Opuntia and, in turn, the page on Opuntia engelmannii (cactus apple), which accessed some pictures, but didn't tell us much more than that it is considered invasive. From the San Angelo TX December 24, 2006 Standard Times, we found this article Ranch land management saved historic ranch. By the by, most of the articles on the invading Prickly Pear and its eradication were from Australia, where it is a large-scale invader, having been imported from North America in the 1800's. 

You understand, the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center recommends neither for nor against any of the herbicides or methods discussed above. Even if you take the hard way and attempt to bulldoze it or grub it out, new plants can grow from pads left lying on the ground.  If we had a magic potion, we would tell you about it, honest.

 

From the Image Gallery


Common prickly-pear
Opuntia macrorhiza

More Cacti and Succulents Questions

Does the tip of the agave contain poison from Denham Spring LA
December 02, 2009 - I bent over to pick something up and got stabbed in the head with the point of a agave plant. It is about 15 years old and I measured the point-it is right at an inch long. My head did bleed and it bu...
view the full question and answer

Yuccas and prickly pears for Warren MI
February 11, 2009 - What type of yuccas and prickly pears will survive in the Detroit, Michigan area? Also, can I grow Santa Rita prickly pear in a pot?
view the full question and answer

Mulching Spring Bulbs in Upstate NY
October 25, 2010 - Just planted tulip bulbs for Spring. The Parks Department then put 4 inches of mulch on top. Will the tulips be able to get through and bloom come Spring? Is mulch a good winterizer for them? Indoor c...
view the full question and answer

Transplanting Agave havardiana in Stella NC
July 10, 2009 - We have a havard century plant in a large pot outside that has a couple of "baby" plants starting to emerge on the outer perimeter of the plant. Can we sucessfully transplant these babies elsewhere ...
view the full question and answer

Bloom stalks on agave plants
September 26, 2007 - Hi, We have Agave plants in our garden for years. But in the past few weeks, we noticed a giant asparagus looking thing growing out in the middle of the plants. We don't know what it is, but every d...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.