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Tropical Soda Apple

Solanum viarum

Description:

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.

Habitat:

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.

Notes:

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.

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4 Comments

Karen Hileman
Karen Hileman 10 years ago

I think it is a shrub. It spreads out across the ground but also gets tall and bushy looking. I haven't seen it grab onto any other vegetation and climb like a vine.

auntnance123
auntnance123 10 years ago

And it's a shrub rather than a vine?

Karen Hileman
Karen Hileman 10 years ago

Thanks auntnance. I learned that this plant is really bad news for the cattle ranchers because it out competes the native grasses and reduces the number of cattle that can feed on their lands.

auntnance123
auntnance123 10 years ago

Nice spotting with lots of great info. Thanks for sharing.

Karen Hileman
Spotted by
Karen Hileman

Florida, USA

Spotted on Apr 7, 2012
Submitted on Jul 30, 2012

Spotted for Mission

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