This species occurs in humid to sub-humid evergreen forests on inselbergs of gneiss or granite and also on limestone. The plant is often seen growing over vegetation and rocks. Capuchin and brown howler monkeys feed on the fruits of P. aculeata, and in some regions of Brazil they are its main dispersers. This species is common and widespread. The population trend is decreasing at the same rate as the forest in which it occurs; however, the species is still quite abundant. This plant is a declared weed in South Africa where it does extensive damage to forest areas by smothering indigenous trees. The plant has a tendency to form large, impenetrable clumps and the spines on the stems make control of large infestations difficult. The plants can regrow from leaves or pieces of stem.