Cactus pereskia L.
Pereskia pereskia Karst.
Common Name: Barbados Gooseberry
Fruiting plant, growing in native habitat
Photograph by: João Medeiros
Barbados gooseberry is an erect, spiny woody shrub when young, becoming, with age, scrambling or climbing and vine-like, with stems up to 10 metres long that may shroud a large tree[
]. Although the plant is a cactus, it is not easily recognised as such since it is not succulent and has leaves[
The plant is seldom found truly wild but is frequently grown as an ornamental or occasionally for its fruits in the American tropics, Bermuda, California, Hawaii, Israel, the Philippines, India and Australia[
]. There are some named varieties[
S. America - coastal northern South America, West Indies and Panama.
Naturalised in thickets besides railways near sea level in southern China[
|Other Uses Rating||
|Cultivation Status||Cultivated, Ornamental
A plant of hot, tropical climates with medium to high rainfall.
Requires a well-drained soil. An easily grown plant, flourishing with little or no care, the plant is drought-tolerant and suffers from over-watering[
]. Under high light intensity, it can be kept erect and compact; under low light, it grows higher, with ascending stems and the leaves are larger and thinner[
]. Prefers a pH in the range 6 - 7.5[
The plant has been widely introduced into tropical areas, where it has often escaped from cultivation[
]. Gardeners had to give up the plant in South Africa in 1979 when it was banned as an illegal weed because it had been invading and overwhelming natural vegetation[
The flowers are said to be of great value to bees[
Fruit - raw or cooked[
]. They are generally stewed or preserved with sugar, or made into jam[
]. The fruit is round, oval or pyriform, lemon- or orange-yellow or reddish, 1 - 2 cm wide, with thin, smooth, somewhat leathery skin[
]. It is beset with the curling, leafy sepals of the calyx and often a few spines, until fully ripe, when it is juicy and subacid to tart[
Young shoots and leaves - raw or cooked[
]. They can be eaten in salads in the same way as purslane (Portulacca spp.), or added to cooked dishes and eaten as greens[
]. They are an important food in parts of rural Brazil[
The leaves are valued for their emollient nature and are applied on inflammations and tumours[
Often used as a rootstock on which to graft other less vigorous cacti[
Easily grown from cuttings of half-ripe wood[
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