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Tropical soda apple is in the Nightshade family. It is an herbaceous perennial, growing 3-6 feet tall. Leaves have small hairs and are deeply divided into pointed lobes. The plant is heavily armored. Long white to yellowish thorns are found on the stems, flower stalks and the upper and lower surfaces of the leaves. The flowers are white with yellow stamens and are found on the stem below the leaves. Fruits are round balls that look like tiny watermelons when they are immature and turn yellow at maturity.
Tropical Soda Apple is highly invasive. Since its introduction into the U.S., tropical soda apple has spread rapidly, and currently infests an estimated one million acres of improved pastures, citrus groves, sugar cane fields, ditches, vegetable crops, sod farms, forestlands (oak hammocks and cypress heads), natural areas, etc. in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and Mississippi. Although it can be a threat to a variety of habitat, it tends to be most problematic in pastures in the MidSouth.
Tropical soda apple is extremely prolific, producing roughly 40,000 to 50,000 seeds per plant. Seed are spread primarily by livestock and wildlife, such as raccoons, deer, and birds that eat the fruit.