Be on the Lookout for Tropical Soda Apple or TSA

Tropical Soda Apple in fruit
Tropical Soda Apple in fruit

Local land managers in the Bellingen Shire are being urged to look out for any new infestations of one of the State’s most wanted weeds after Council’s invasive plants staff recently made new discoveries of Tropical Soda Apple in the Raleigh area.

What does it look like?
Tropical Soda Apple aka TSA is an aggressive upright shrub 1-2m high with broad straight cream coloured prickles 12mm long covering most parts of the plant. Flowers are white but the key identifying feature is the fruit which has a green watermelon like appearance when young and a bright yellow look when mature, each containing up to 600 seeds.

How is it spread?
Although the spikes on TSA are a deterrent for livestock the fruits are sweet and cattle can easily reach to eat these fruit making them a major vector in the spread of TSA. TSA seeds are very sticky therefore can spread by machinery, birds, mammals and pest animals; however the plant can also spread from vegetative matter.

TSA fruits float easily making waterways and flood zones priority areas for monitoring, as the majority of infestations are found in low lying areas and around water courses.

What to do if you find it
It is important to find and control plants early, before fruiting. Any fruit collected can be given to Council's Invasive Plants staff for appropriate disposal.

Since Tropical Soda Apple was discovered in Bellingen Shire, Council has been continually working hard with landholders and key stakeholders to keep our shire free of this highly invasive plant that can form extensive pure stands and are very difficult to control as all fruits need to be collected and deep buried before control is implemented on the infestation.

Bellingen Shire Mayor Cr King said “the urgency of removing new infestations cannot be underestimated and it is vital to continue monitoring the area of and adjacent to known infestations”.

“Council requires the assistance of the public in the reporting of TSA, which has detrimental and costly outcomes for all landholders and property owners. It is only with sheer diligence that we can have all infestations controlled and monitored. Our aim is to for the Bellingen Shire to be TSA free,” added the Mayor.

The Biosecurity risk of this weed to the farming community and the environment is extreme. For voluntary reported infestations of TSA, Council’s Invasive Plants team will provide free inspections, plant identification and control advice to assist landholders with meeting their Biosecurity Act 2015 obligations.

Tropical Soda Apple is regulated by a Control Order under the NSW Biosecurity Act 2015 and applies to all landholders and carriers of stock. The Control Order specifies that individuals must report occurrences of this weed within 24 hours of detection.

If you suspect you have seen this plant or would like more information regarding invasive plants (weed) management please contact Council’s Invasive Plants Team on (02) 6655 7300.

Below: 1) Tropical Soda Apple Plant and 2) Leaf showing cream prickles 

TSA PlantTSA leaf showing cream prickles