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NISAW 2016 – Tropical Soda Apple

NISAW 2016 – Tropical Soda Apple

Immature TSA fruit are resemble tiny watermelons. Mature fruit turn yellow and contain 40-50 seeds each. Photo credit: UF Hayslip Biological Control Research and Containment Laboratory

Immature TSA fruit are resemble tiny watermelons. Mature fruit turn yellow and contain 40-50 seeds each. Photo credit: UF Hayslip Biological Control Research
and Containment Laboratory

Florida ranchers know Tropical Soda Apple (TSA) as the “Plant from Hell”. It was first noticed in south Florida, but its seeds survive in the digestive tract of animals and it spread north through the movement of hay and cattle. TSA plants are covered with thorns and can make large sections of pasture nearly useless for livestock. Concerted efforts to lessen the population of TSA since its arrival have reduced the populations in pastures but it persists in sheltered or waste locations. Cattle, birds, deer and feral hogs ingest the mature fruits and spread the plants to loafing and browsing areas that may be inaccessible to mechanical treatment with anything larger than a hoe. According to Dr. Jeff Mullahey,  who has been working on TSA since its appearance in south Florida, one plant can produce  40,000-50,000 seeds with seed germination ranging from 75%-100%. The seeds remain viable for at least three years. Be on the lookout for these while engaged in outdoor activities.

 

Isolated plants can be controlled by mechanical means. You won’t want to pull them up barehanded, though. Additional information and control methods are available at http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/uw097, or contact your local Extension agent.

The rounded seedling leaf in the foreground has few spines, but all the later leaves do have them. Photo by Jed Dillard

The rounded seedling leaf in the foreground has few spines, but all the later leaves do have them. Photo by Jed Dillard

PG

Author: Jed Dillard – dillardjed@ufl.edu

Jefferson County Livestock and Natural Resources Agent with a commercial cow/calf background. My degree is in animal breeding, but I do more work wth forage systems. Long time clover/legume booster for both livestock and wildlife

Panhandle Outdoors

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/blog/2016/03/01/nisaw-2016-tropical-soda-apple/