WELCOME to the second edition of Weed of the Month.
Clarence Valley Council will provide a monthly update on new and existing weeds impacting on our productive and protected environments.
Tropical soda apple was first identified in Australia in the Kempsey area on the Mid North Coast of New South Wales, in August 2010.
However, this weed is believed to have been present in this area for several years.
Subsequent surveys have identified other smaller infestations in surrounding areas, including Wingham, Casino and Grafton.
In Australia it has the potential to spread in coastal regions of NSW and Queensland.
Tropical soda apple featured in a television commercial which screened in the Grafton to Nambucca region on Southern Cross 10 during August.
The commercial advised stock owners to hold new cattle in yards for seven days to prevent spread of the weed to their properties.
If you suspect that you may have tropical soda apple on your property, give the Council's weed officer a call on 6641 7241 to arrange an inspection.
Information on tropical soda apple
- An aggressive prickly perennial shrub, one metre to two metres high.
- Tropical soda apple is a native of north-eastern Argentina, south-eastern Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay.
- Upright and much branching, it has broad-based, straight, cream-coloured prickles to 12mm long scattered on most plant parts.
- Leaves are mostly 10-20cm long and 6-15cm 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 five petals 2-4mm long. They occur in clusters of three to six, off a short stem.
- Mature fruit are yellow and golf ball-size (20-30mm in diameter). When immature they are pale green with dark green veins, like immature water melons.
- Tropical soda apple reproduces by seed and can regenerate from root material.
- In NSW cattle movement is likely to be the major vector of spread.
- The occurrence of the weed near saleyards (Casino) in NSW supports this theory.
- However, seed can also be spread by feral animals and birds that feed on the fruit and via water and contaminated produce, soil and equipment.
- Tropical soda apple invades open to semi-shaded areas, including pastures, forests, riparian zones, roadsides, recreational areas, horticultural areas and cropping areas.
- It reduces biodiversity in natural areas by displacing native plants and disrupting ecological processes.
- Its foliage is unpalatable to livestock, thus reducing carrying capacity.
- Prickles on this plant restrict native animal and stock grazing and can create a physical barrier to animals, preventing movement 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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