Tropical Soda Apple crosses the Divide
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North West NSW cattle producers are being advised to look out for the new weed Tropical Soda Apple after a detection near Tamworth earlier this month.
“An infestation of Tropical Soda Apple was identified on a property at Attunga and was probably introduced by cattle imported from the NSW Mid North Coast around Kempsey,” said Lester McCormick, Technical Specialist Pastures with Industry & Investment NSW.
“The weed infestation at Attunga has been eradicated but cattle producers are asked to be vigilant for this plant and to prevent its further spread.”
Tropical Soda Apple is a very aggressive weed that can quickly invade pastures.
The first known infestation in Australia of Tropical Soda Apple was found earlier this year near Kempsey and State and local government weeds officer are now working with landholders to contain and eradicate the menacing weed.
Mr McCormick said the weed is often spread by cattle and other animals or birds feeding on the mature fruit.
“The animals and birds are attracted by the sweet smell of mature fruit and the seeds pass through their digestive systems unharmed,” he said.
“When purchasing livestock it always good to have a holding paddock, to limit the spread of unknown weeds around your property.”
Mr McCormick said Tropical Soda Apple is an upright much branching perennial shrub growing to 1.5 metres in height.
“It has broad-based straight cream coloured spines up to 12 mm long scattered on most parts of plant,” he said.
“When plants become dense thickets, stock movement is prevented and carrying capacity is reduced.
“In the US it is termed ‘the plant from hell’.”
Leaves of Tropical Soda Apple plants are mostly 10–20 cm long and 6–15 cm 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 curved petals 2–4 mm long. They occur in clusters of 3–6 off a short stem.
The immature fruit are pale green with dark green veins, like immature water melons. At maturity the fruit turns yellow and are golf ball size, 20–30 mm in diameter.
Producers are asked to report suspected Tropical Soda Apple to your local Council Weeds Officer for positive identification and further assistance.
Further information is also available from the web site www.dpi.nsw.gov.au
Media contact: Phil Bevan 0429 458 053