EPPO Global Database

EPPO Reporting Service no. 02 - 2019 Num. article: 2019/043

First report of several new cactus species from Gran Canaria (ES)

Eight newly detected cactus species and one hybrid are reported for the first time in Gran Canaria (Spain) from surveys conducted between December 2017 and May 2018. The authors highlight that an assessment of the naturalisation status of each taxon at the present time is undetermined and will need to be assessed over a longer time period. 

Opuntia elatior is native to Central and South America and an invasive alien species in Australia and Kenya.  In the EPPO region, the species is present in Italy, mainland Spain and Morocco.   In Gran Canaria, O. elatior is recorded from a rocky sun-exposed slope in La Aldea de San Nicolás.  The small population is reported to grow along with other Opuntia species such as O. leucotricha, O. microdasys and O. robusta.  

Opuntia engelmannii is native to North America and is commonly grown as an ornamental in gardens in Mediterranean regions.  The species is invasive in Australia, Kenya, Namibia and South Africa, and in the EPPO region in Italy and mainland Spain.  In Gran Canaria, the species was found growing on the slopes of a ravine below the Cactualdea Park (cactus garden) where several individuals were found in a scattered population.  

Opuntia ficus-indica x O. robusta hybrids have been recorded at two locations growing in close proximity to sites where Opuntia ficus-indica and O. robusta occur.  

Opuntia phaeacantha is native to North America and within the EPPO region the species has been recorded as invasive in the Karadag Nature Reserve in Crimea, and also in Austria, mainland Spain and Italy.  The species is also recorded in the Czech Republic, France, Georgia, Germany and the Ukraine. In Gran Canaria, the species was recorded in fallow land and on a slope alongside a main road in the north east of the island. 

Opuntia stricta is native to North America and Cuba and is an invasive alien species in many regions of the world. One individual was recorded for the first time in Gran Canaria in the west of the island on the slopes of a ravine close to the Cactualdea Park.

Oreocereus pseudofossulatus is native to Bolivia. A small population with a few individuals was recorded growing along a rocky slope in Caserio Monte Leόn in the south of the island.  

Pilosocereus polygonus was recorded in the north of the island on rough ground.  The species is native to North America and the Caribbean.  This is the first time it has been recorded in the wild outside of its native range.  

Trichocereus cuzcoensis is native to Peru and was recorded growing in two nearby locations in Tafira Baja in the north of the island where it had established from discarded garden waste.  This is the first time T. cuzcoensis has been recorded as an escaped species outside of its native range.

Trichocereus pachanoi is a species native to the high Andean mountain range of Peru.  One individual was found in the centre of the island near the village of San Bartolomé de Tirajana.


Verloove F, Rodriguez AM, Salas-Pascual M, Guiggi A (2018) New cactus records from Gran Canaria with a key to the opuntioid species now established in the Canary Islands (Spain). Haseltonia 25, 115-124.