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Tropical Soda Apple

Tropical Soda Apple (Solanum viarumi)  is declared noxious in the Illawarra District Weeds Authority control area (including Kiama, Shellharbour and Wollongong council areas).

The weed control class is 1. This means that:

The plant must be eradicated from the land and the land must be kept free of the plant”.

Description: Tropical Soda Apple is an aggressive, prickly, upright, much branching perennial shrub 1–2 m high. It has broad-based, straight, cream-coloured prickles to 12 mm long scattered on most plant parts. Leaves are mostly 10–20 cm long and 6–15 cm wide. The upper and lower leaf surfaces are densely covered in short hairs; mid-veins and primary lateral-veins are cream-coloured on both sides of the leaves. Flowers are white, with 5 petals 2–4 mm long. They occur in clusters of 3–6 off a short stem. Mature fruit are yellow and golf ball-size (20–30 mm in diameter). When immature they are pale green with dark green veins, like immature water melons. In the USA plants produce an average of 45,000 seeds. A native of South America.

Problem: Tropical Soda Apple invades open to semi-shaded areas including pastures, forests, riparian zones, roadsides, recreational areas, horticulture and cropping areas. It reduces biodiversity by displacing native plants and disrupting ecological processes. Its foliage is unpalatable to livestock, thus reducing carrying capacities. Prickles on this plant restrict grazing by native animals and livestock and thickets can create a physical barrier for animals preventing access to shade and water. The plant is a host for many diseases and pests of cultivated crops, and it contains solasodine which is poisonous to humans.

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