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Cylindropuntia imbricata (Haw.) F.M.Knuth

Backeb. & F.M.Knuth, Kaktus-ABC 125 (1936)
Conservation Code
Not threatened
Naturalised Status
Alien to Western Australia
Name Status


IBRA Regions
Avon Wheatbelt, Coolgardie, Murchison, Pilbara.
IBRA Subregions
Chichester, Eastern Goldfield, Eastern Murchison, Merredin.
Local Government Areas (LGAs)
Bruce Rock, Dalwallinu, Kalgoorlie-Boulder, Leonora, Menzies, Morawa, Perenjori, Port Hedland.

Management Notes (for the Swan NRM Region)

Alternative Names. Cylindropuntia spp..

General Biology. Growth form. Shrub/Small Tree. Life form. Perennial. Reproduction. Stem or fruit fragments or seed.. Dispersal. Devil's Rope’s stem and fruit fragments readily attach to animals, footwear and vehicles and easily transported to new sites. They are also distributed by washing down waterways, floodwaters or in dumped garden waste.. Time of first flowering. Third year. Type of stem. Succulent. Seedbank persistence. 10 to 20 years.. Fire response. May not be killed in fire, may result in vigorous regrowth following fire. Very small plants and seeds will be destroyed in the hot fire..

Notes. Devil's Rope is a spreading or erect shrub or small tree from 1 to 5 m tall, often forming a short trunk 7-15 cm diameter. Its hairless, mid to dark green or grey green stem segments are cylindrical (terete) but with discontinuous prominent elongated ridges. Each segment is 5 to 35 cm long and 1.5 to 3.5 cm in diameter. The areoles (spots on stem segments and fruits that contain the spines and glochids) are at the tip of elongated ridges, with short white to yellowish wool and small yellow glochids (clusters of small barbed bristles). There can be from 2-30 spines (more numerous on the older segments and trunk) up to 3 cm long and covered with a white papery sheath. The flowers are red-purple, 3 to 9 cm in diameter. The fruits are usually borne singly on a fleshy base at the ends of the stem segments. Each tuberculate (warty) fruit is 2.5 to 7 cm long, 2 to 4 cm diameter, green when immature and yellow when mature. Each fruit produces numerous seeds..

Additional information. Origin. Native to northern Mexico and the Southwestern United States.. History of use/introduction. The earliest known record of Devil's Rope, held in an Australian herbarium, was collected at Quirindi, New South Wales, by the Town Clerk in April 1934. It was most probably introduced into Australia as an ornamental plant in the 1920s.. Similar native species. Austrocylindropuntia, Opuntia, Cylindropuntia spp..

Suggested method of management and control. For small outbreaks and for scattered plants burying, burning or chemical control is preferable. Repeated ploughing/cultivation destroys Devil's Rope (the pieces eventually give up if damaged and/or disturbed often enough). There are a number of effective herbicides available. Devil's Rope has also been recognised as a target for biological control through a cross-jurisdictional government process. This allows activities to be undertaken to develop effective biological controls. Biological control can be used for controlling large outbreaks or dense patches. Cochineal Insect (Dactylopious tomentosus) is most effective in drier warmer areas. It was introduced from the southern part of the United States in 1925 and 1926. It is effective but works slowly. Once established the insect will spread to new segments and adjacent plants. Cochineal Insect can also be spread manually by placing a few cochineal infected segments on unaffected plants. Read the manufacturers' labels and material safety data sheets before using herbicides. For further information consult the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority to determine the status of permits for your situation or state.

Management Calendar

Calendar Type Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Comments
Flowering Y Y O O         O Y Y Y  
Germination O O O O O O O O O O O O  
Fruiting Y Y Y Y O           O Y  

Legend: Y = Yes, regularly, O = Occasionally, U = Uncertain, referred by others but not confirmed.



  • Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (2017) Cactus Month 2017. Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development URL: - Accessed June 2019.
  • Parsons, W.T. & Cuthbertson, E.G. (2001) Noxious weeds of Australia. 2nd Edition. CSIRO Publishing, Collingwood.
  • Sheehan, M. R. & Potter, S. (2017) Managing Opuntioid Cacti in Australia: Best practice control manual for Austrocylindropuntia, Cylindropuntia and Opuntia species.. Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, Perth.