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FLIP

FLIP: Florida Invasive Plants

Solanum viarum

Common Name(s): Tropical soda apple

Origin

Brazil, Paraguay, Argentina.

Ecological Impact

It is estimated that approximately one million acres of pasture, sod farms, forests, ditches, and natural areas, are covered with tropical soda apple in Florida. This plant is extremely prolific, producing roughly 40,000 to 50,000 seeds per plant. Seed is spread primarily via livestock and wildlife, such as raccoons, deer, and birds that consume the fruit. Tropical Soda Apple is listed as a Category 1 invasive by the Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council.

Description

Tropical soda apple is a bushy herbaceous perennial, growing 3-6 feet tall. Leaves are pubescent, deeply divided into pointed lobes. White to yellowish thorns up to 0.4 inch long found on the stems, flower stalks, both upper and lower surfaces of the leaves, and calyxes.  White flowers with yellow stamens have 5 petals and are found on the stem below the leaves. Fruits are globular in shape and are green in color when young, yellow at maturity.

Identification Tips

The immature berries are green with dark veining that looks like a tiny watermelon. Mature berries are yellow and have about 400 seeds per berry.

History

In 1985 Tropical soda apple was accidentally introduced into Florida from Brazil by cattle carrying undigested seeds in their intestinal tracts.

Range

Throughout Florida.

Management Strategies

The most effective means of controlling tropical soda apple is the prevention of fruit production. In addition, tropical soda apple has been regulated by the prevention of cattle movement and transport of contaminated seed, sod, hay, manure, and soil from infested areas to areas that are not infested.

Photos

Most photos courtesy of the Atlas of Florida Plants; click for additional plant details.

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Florida Invasive Plants