Tropical soda apple (TSA) was nearly eradicated across the state during a recent federally funded eradication program. However, with termination of program funding, reports of this non-native invasive species are on the rise. Tropical soda apple is of concern as it can form very dense infestations in open to semi-shady areas, especially in pastures where it can greatly reduce forage productivity. Timely identification and control of this non-native, invasive Federal Noxious Weed will help prevent its spread.
How do I identify tropical soda apple? There are several species in the nightshade genus (Solanum)
that might be confused with tropical soda apple, but the most common look-a-like is horsenettle (S. carolinense). Tropical soda apple looks a bit like horsenettle on steroids – the plants are bigger, the leaves are bigger, the thorns are bigger and the fruit is bigger. Below are key features to help identify tropical soda apple.
How can I control tropical soda apple? Tropical soda apple is very shallow rooted and small shrubs can be pulled with a sturdy pair of gloves (make sure they can withstand the thorns!). When hand pulling, try to remove the lateral roots if possible. Cutting and mowing can be used to prevent seed formation, but will not control the plants and should be avoided after the plants have set fruit.
What herbicides can I use to spray tropical soda apple? The best herbicide options for tropical soda apple in pastures are picloram + fluroxypyr, picloram + 2,4-D or aminopyralid + 2,4-D. In forests, the best options are aminopyralid, triclopyr and glyphosate. All of these herbicides benefit from the addition of a nonionic surfactant at 0.25% v/v. Always read and follow the herbicide label. One treatment will not eradicate tropical soda apple and follow-up monitoring and retreatment is critical. Treatments can be applied anytime during the late spring through early fall.
*See label for specific forest information.
Prepared by: Nancy J. Loewenstein, Extension Specialist, School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences and Stephen F. Enloe, former Extension Weed Specalsit, Department of Crop Soil, and Environmental Sciences, Auburn University.
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