A succulent shrub or small tree with paddle-shaped stems armed with spines. This plant is leafless. It is an invasive alien from Central America. The fruits are plum-shaped, spiny and edible.
The Sweet Prickly Pear grows across South Africa, having spread over the centuries after been imported from Mexico.
The Prickly Pear is one of the most used alien plants in South Africa, so much so that many now believe the plant is a South African species. The prickly pear is used to build stockades for domestic animals – and is used as feed for the animals. Many farmhouses in South Africa are enclosed in a Prickly Pear fence. The fruit is used today to make jams and various drinks. In many areas, such as wilderness areas the plant is seen as a pest and steps are taken to eradicate it.