Quick Facts

  • Mature Tropical Soda Apple are 1-2 m tall and are armed on the leaves, stems, pedicles, petioles, and calyxes with broad-based white to yellowish thorn-like prickles up to 1 cm long
  • Leaves and stems are pubescent
  • Flowers are white with five recurved petals and white to cream-colored stamens
  • Immature fruits are mottled light and dark green like a watermelon
  • Mature fruits are smooth, round yellow, and 1-3 cm in diameter with leathery skin surrounding a thin-layered, pale green, scented pulp and 180-420 flattened, reddish-brown seeds
  • Seeding emergence occurs primarily in dry season
  • New plants emerge either from seed or from roots of existing plants
  • Roots have buds that regenerate new shoots

Species Facts:

Tropical soda apple, Solanum viarum, is a federal noxious weed and is a serious weed pest in Florida, where it is widely established. The primary means of dispersal seems to be livestock(cattle) and wildlife, such as raccoons, deer, feral hogs, and birds that feed on fruits. Intra- and inter- county and state movement of livestock that have recently fed on Tropical Soda Apple may be the primary vector for its spread. However, contaminated hay, seeds, and bags of manure for composting also serve as a means of its dispersal.

The Tropical Soda Apple is a threat to the vegetable crop industry as a competitive weed and because it is an alternate host for numerous pathogens that cause disease in eggplant, peppers, potatoes, tomatoes, etc. These vegetable crop pathogens include the cucumber mosaic virus, gemini virus, potato leafroll virus, potato virus Y, tobacco etch virus, tomato mosaic virus, tomato mottle virus, and the fungal pathogen, Alternaria solani.

Portions of this article courtesy of: Global Invasive Species Database
Image of Tropical Soda Apple
(Photo from: www.bugwood.com Credit to: Charles T. Bryson)