An invasive cactus species is already a nightmare for wildlife and domestic animals in the Lightning Ridge area. It is imperative that campers don’t transport these nasties to other regions.

Hudson Pear
Hudson Pear, Lightning Ridge, NSW.

Their spikes can go right through the soles of your boots and they’ve even been known to puncture 4WD tyres. They’re a species of cactus originally from Mexico called the Hudson Pear and they’re absolutely horrible to deal with. They have already colonised 100,000 hectares around Lightning Ridge and unfortunately, they’re spreading fast. Originally an escapee from an ornamental garden, the legend has it that they were deliberately spread by Opal miners to protect their claims. That could well be true, for they are more impossible to deal with than razor wire.

Spines are encased in a detachable sheath which may remain embedded in a wound even after the body of the spine is removed. The spines are capable of causing serious injury to humans, livestock and working animals such as horses and dogs and may present a severe impediment to mustering operations.

Hudson pear also poses a threat to native fauna and has caused the deaths of native animals such as koalas. Infestations of Hudson pear can also displace native flora and may impact on biodiversity

Our cattle-dog Rudy managed to get some of these cactus spikes embedded in his snout and because they’re equipped with vicious barbs, I had to use a pair of pliers to get them out! In doing so, I manged to spike myself painfully.

A local farmer has described how some of his livestock have nearly perished after being ensnared by these plants. And you can only imagine what a horror these must be for wildlife, for wallabies or birds, who accidentally get themselves enmeshed in those vicious barbed spines.

Barbed spikes from a Hudson Pear attached to my Redback boot.

These cactus spread by attaching themselves to animals or vehicles, and that’s why it is essential that campers make sure that they’re not transporting these vicious things to other areas; check your clothing and tyres and notify the authorities if you notice these horrors outside the Lightning Ridge area.

It is extremely important that the spread of Hudson pear be limited. Vigilance is the key to preventing spread. Hudson pear segments of all sizes should be removed as these are capable of forming new plants/infestations if they come into contact with the ground and form roots.

When travelling in Hudson pear infested areas, take care not to leave designated roads. If you do need to travel off road, check vehicle tyres and undercarriage for any sign of Hudson pear and remove before leaving the area.

If you have been outside the vehicle, remember to check clothing, footwear, any other equipment which may have come into contact with the ground and even the inside of the vehicle for Hudson pear segments. Any animals or stock should also be checked.