Tropical soda apple invades pastures, fields, and parks. The soda apple forms thick stands that can be impenetrable to livestock, large wildlife, and humans-mostly because of the numerous thorns on stems and leaves.Flowering occurs year-round, with most reproduction occurring from September to May. The flowers produce 1″ diameter fruit that looks like a tiny watermelon. It has broad leaves and thorns. Tropical soda apple is spread by cattle, deer and other wild animals who feed on the fruit and spread the seeds in their feces, and also through harvested hay and turf grass from an infested pasture. Since each fruit contains hundreds of seeds and each plant can produce 10’s of thousands of seeds, it can be highly prolific.
So far the only successful control of TSA has been the release of a tiny beetle (gratiana boliviana) into the pasture or field. Since it is a biological control, the beetles continue to thrive as long as there is TSA to consume. For further information and to contact the University of Florida about the beetles, visit this link: https://plants.ifas.ufl.edu/plant-directory/solanum-viarum/