Though its name sounds like a snappy tasting drink, this poisonous and invasive Florida weed is quite deadly and found across the entire State. Its scientific name is “Solanum viarum Dunal” and continues to be an extensive weed growth problem on perennial landscapes and pastures.
The easiest way to spot the TSA is from its immature fruit, which looks like tiny watermelons. The fruit’s size ranges from 1-1.5 inches in diameter and displays the same green with white mottling found on melons. Also, be careful not to touch or grab its thorny stems or leaves.
How Does The Tropical Soda Apple Spread?
Though livestock will consume the foliage, its taste is nauseating, rancid, and not palatable. Wildlife, such as deer, raccoons, and feral hogs, feed on the fruit and, like cattle, spread the seeds through their feces.
The yellow fruit from the Tropical Soda Apple contains 200-400 seeds per fruit. Fruit production occurs throughout the year, mainly from September through May, providing 40,000–50,000 viable seeds per plant per year.
How Large Will The TSA Grow?
The TSA can measure from 3–6 feet in height and the same distance across the plant. The leaves approaching puberty will be 4-7 inches long and extend 2–6 inches across. On the leaves, stems, and flower stalks, you will see white to yellowing 0.4 inch long thorns. Avoid touching them.
During the dry season, October to May is when seedlings start to appear. It has also been discovered; new TSA plants come from seeds or the perennial root system. Its root system is extensive and can extend 3-6 feet from the plant’s crown along with its roots generating new bud shoots.
How To Prevent The Spread Of Tropical Soda Apple
Should your home or commercial property sit on or near perennial landscapes or pastureland, you have a few prevention options at your disposal. Though you cannot stop wildlife from spreading the seeds, you can regularly clean your mower, shoes, garden equipment, and vehicles which can easily spread these seeds as well.
As for using chemicals to control the Tropical Soda Apple from spreading, we recommend speaking with a professional about dense infestation herbicides. Furthermore, after chemical sprays, you must continually scout for new growth.
The fruit from a Tropical Soda Apple plant can produce seeds at any time during Florida’s growing season. For that reason, you will have to monitor your property carefully before and after spraying. By doing so, you prevent new fruit production and eliminate any reestablishment.
Think You Might Have Tropical Soda Apple?
Should you discover Tropical Soda Apple on your property, and need to speak to us, give us a call at 850-422-3001 or contact us. Our team of landscaping experts is here to help you eliminate invasive plants.