Mystery Plant # 5
Pereskia aculeata (Cactaceae)

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Mystery plant #5

Mystery plant 5: leaves

Mystery plant #5 submitted by: Tina Lau (TNCH-Molokai)

It is growing in Halawa Valley, Molokai - one main population, few isolated individuals. It has invasive characteristics: climbs up tall trees into canopy, crawls over ground rooting at the nodes, grows in shade and sunlight. (TL)

Feedback from viewers:

"...I've taken a careful look at it. Sterile specimens (without flowers or fruits) are very hard to identify; if you have an opportunity to collect another specimen with flowers and/or fruit I'd like to have a look at it. That said, my best guess (and it's only an educated guess) is that this plant is a Pereskia, a cactus. Pereskia is the only genus of cactus that has leaves, and a couple species are cultivated in HI. The fleshy fruits are eaten by birds, which could spread the seeds, and that might be how this plant came to be in a nature preserve. If that's what it is. But at this stage I'm not confident of the identification...." -George Staples (Bishop Museum), 26 October 2001 (e-mail to T. Lau)

"Sandy Lloyd, Marcia Vistisen and I have been looking through the pictures we have of Pereskia and agree with George. P. aculeata has yellow new growth and a folded leaf with ridges so it may not be this sp. We saw plenty that look similar but flowers and fruit will clinch it." -Rod Randall, 31 October 2001

"Pereskia is as good a guess as any without flowers or fruit for plant #5." -Forest Starr & Kim Martz, 30 October 2001

"Following George's 'guess', the plant looks like Pereskia aculeata. As an escape it almost always is vine/liana-like. (It can form a trunk if trained/shaped to do so, therefore it is sometimes described as 'shrublike'). There are a few hortic[u]ltural varieties, which could account for its arrival here. It is a category 1 weed of South Africa and it is also listed a 'Prospective Invasive Species for Pacific Islands' by PIER []. There is a decent description at [ed.: link is dead 20DEC2004/ ]." -Curt Daehler (Univ. Hawaii Botany Dept.), 31 October 2001

If you have further information about this plant--especially identification confirmation or knowledge/examples of its invasive potential--please e-mail !


More images of mystery plant #5

Mystery plant #5

Mystery plant #5

Mystery plant #5

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The template for this page was created on 25 March 2000 by PT, and was last updated on 20 December 2004 by PT using the Automatic HTML-Generating Software (AHGS) system. The "Mystery Plants" database was retired on 25 August 2006, so this page is now manually updated; it was last updated on 25 August 2006 by PT. Questions? Send e-mail to