Restoring landscapes across the Mount Alexander Region

Wheel Cactus hinders fire fighting

Posted on 14 March, 2023 by Ivan

Our friends and partners at the Tarrangower Cactus Control Group Inc. (TCCG) have recently published a media article highlighting the firefighting issues caused by infestations of the invasive plant wheel cactus (Opuntia robusta). Please find the article below which gives landholders yet another reason to control and remove infestations of this devastating noxious weed.

Patches of wheel cactus grow densely, forming an impenetrable barrier.   In some instances the plant was used as hedging. Where established, the weed is most likely to restrict human access and have impacts on the environment and agriculture. The barbed bristles of the wheel cactus are sharp, readily penetrating human skin causing severe irritation and are difficult to remove.

Wheel Cactus hinders fire fighting

Many of us are familiar with the destructive environmental impact of wheel cactus in Mount Alexander Shire. Some have volunteered for years in controlling this weed and take responsibility on their own and other properties. However, there are still properties in our area with significant infestations of wheel cactus.

Possibly, some landowners may not have considered the problems created by wheel cactus in a fire situation.

In a recent fire emergency in Baringhup, CFA volunteers were confronted with a situation made difficult due to the rocky and hilly terrain.  Equally confronting were the many large mature wheel cactus plants on one of the properties.  This dense infestation of wheel cactus created a dangerous situation for the CFA volunteers.  Combined with smoke affecting visibility and high-pressure hoses, the wheel cactus infected terrain became highly slippery and very challenging for the volunteers.

As CFA Captain Brendan McKnight commented “Wheel cactus is an OH&S issue for the CFA.  It is another risk factor in a situation that is already full of risk; just ask the poor bloke who fell onto a large wheel cactus while we were dealing with the fire”.

This fire incident has highlighted yet another reason why landowners need to control infestations of wheel cactus of their property.  We encourage all landowners to keep their property safe as well as environmentally healthy.

Tarrangower Cactus Control Group are available to provide advice and assistance to local land holders. Please contact us via our website

Tarrangower Cactus Control Group consists of Landcare volunteers dedicated to the eradication of Wheel Cactus (Opuntia robusta). 



2 responses to “Wheel Cactus hinders fire fighting”

  1. Beth Mellick says:

    If you see wheel cactus in the Muckleford or Walmer areas on public land, please let the Muckleford Catchment Landcare Group know, we have volunteers who will go and treat them and prevent them spreading from Tarrengower.

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