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Invasive weeds alert: Tropical Soda Apple

Tropical Soda Apple Weed Alert

Port Macquarie-Hastings Council is urgently calling for all local landholders to inspect their farms and properties for a noxious weed called Tropical Soda Apple.

An outbreak of the highly invasive weed Tropical Soda Apple (Solanum viarum) has been detected on a farm in Bellangry. This weed has the ability to spread rapidly and impact all landscapes. It invades pastures and riparian zones, but also forests, roadsides, recreational areas, and horticultural and cropping areas. It reduces biodiversity by displacing native plants and disrupting ecological processes. Its foliage is unpalatable to livestock, thus reducing carrying capacities on farms, however cattle eat the fruit and spread viable seeds in manure. Thorny thickets of this plant 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.

For these reason Tropical Soda Apple has the highest biosecurity control obligations under the Biosecurity Act 2015 in the state. Landholders who have found this plant must contact their local council weeds officer for assistance with identification, control and eradication. Owners and occupiers of land on which there is tropical soda apple must; destroy the plants including the fruit; ensure subsequent generations are destroyed; and ensure the land is kept free of the plant.

Infestations can be spread by inappropriate control activities, partially with cattle movements.Landholders in affected areas should focus their efforts on checking for this plant, and holding any new cattle that come onto their properties for at least 6 days. It is illegal to knowingly transport the seeds of this plant inside an animal, or to knowingly buy or sell an animal that contains seeds.

Tropical soda apple (Solanum viarum), is an aggressive, prickly, perennial shrub 1–2 m high. If not controlled a few plants will form a hectare sized thicket in 6 months, with each plant producing 150 fruit containing 45 000 seeds each year. Herbicides kill the plants, but do not kill the seeds inside the fruit. In the USA, this plant infested over half a million hectares in 5 years.

To assist landholders in correctly identifying Tropical Soda Apple, please refer to the  attached image1MB jpg(JPG, 1MB) which compares it to its two look-a-likes, Devil’s apple and Apple of Sodom.

 It is important to find plants early. Checking paddocks and waterways every 3 weeks is essential, particularly during spring and summer is critical for finding new plants. Landholders in areas where the plant is known to occur need to be vigilant.

  • Check cattle camps, stock yards, feed-out areas and holding paddocks.
  • Check waterways, drains, gullies, floodplains, flats and areas of flood debris.
  • Check fence lines, forested areas, tracks, roads and feral animal haunts.

If you find tropical soda apple, contact your Council’s weeds officer on 65818111 as soon as possible for advice and assistance to eradicate it from your property.

The Biosecurity Risk of this weed to the farming community and the environment is extreme. For voluntary reported infestations Port Macquarie – Hastings Council’s Invasive Weed Team will provide free inspection and control service of this plant for the first year to assist with landholders meeting their Biosecurity Act obligations

Tropical Soda Apple is regulated by a Control Order under the NSW Biosecurity Act 2015 and applies to all landholders and carriers of stock. The Control Order specifies that individuals must report occurrences of this weed within 24 hours of detection.

This page was last updated on: 09 January 2019