All photos copyright Doug Spencer, taken April 2017, near West Leederville Railway Station, less than 3 kilometres from Perth GPO.
The first prickly pear plants to arrive in Australia landed with “the first fleet” in 1788.
Less than a century later, prickly pear occupied many million hectares of Queensland and New South Wales.
The prickly pear (genus Opuntia) is right “up there” with the rabbit, the cat and the cane toad among species that were deliberately introduced to Australia, with unforeseen, catastrophic consequences.
As you can read here, Australia eventually managed at least a partial victory over Opuntia.
Alas, we are yet to achieve a similar result with the rabbit, fox, cat, cane toad, feral pig…et al.
When not running rampant, prickly pear can provide humans with sweet fruit and an intriguing visual combination of spikiness, mess and loveliness; the plant atop this post is currently flowering just west of West Leederville Railway station, above the bike path as it runs between Subiaco Oval and the rail line.
On an autumn afternoon like today’s, even a very short inner-suburban walk along Perth streets and footpaths offers a deal of visual delight to anyone with eyes to notice it.