The Solanaceae plant family includes a very large genus of herbs, shrubs, trees and even climbing plants. It also contains plants such as tomato, potato, eggplant, petunia, and many invasive species such as tropical soda apple, aquatic soda apple and horsenettle. Plants in this family are usually hairy and often prickly, with a distinctive tomato-like smell. Most species within the genera Solanum are poisonous and should not be consumed by humans or wildlife. Many Solanum species are listed as Category II exotic invasives by the Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council.
Solanum spp. that comprises the nightshades are erect, multi-branching, herbaceous perennial shrubs able to grow up to 13 feet in height. Stems are covered with short, dense hairs that are often armed with thorns. Leaves are alternate and vary in morphology, often ovate to elliptic with an acute tip and rounded to oblique base. Leaf margins are shallowly and irregularly lobed. Flowers are borne in corymbs at intervals on the stems. Yellow, globose fruit contain many seeds. Frugivorous birds eat the fruit and spread the seeds.
Solanum spp. are prolific seed producers which may produce seed throughout the year. New plants can emerge from seed or roots. Root buds on existing plants are able to generate shoots, producing new plants. Root systems can be fairly extensive, reaching as far as 3 to 6 feet into the ground.
The most effective means of controlling Solanum is the prevention of fruit production.
Mulches may provide control of emerging seedlings.
Remove the entire plant by hand. Mowing will be effective but frequency is critical for complete control and is particularly effective prior to fruiting.
The leaf-eating chrysomelid beetle Leptinotarsa undecimlineata, is reported to be host-specific and might be a useful control agent.
Susceptible to translocated herbicides, including glyphosate, 2,4-D, and triclopyr applied to the foliage. Repeat applications will be necessary to control plants from seedlings.
Excerpted from the University of Florida, IFAS Extension, Circular 1529, Invasive Species Management Plans for Florida, 2008 by:
Greg MacDonald, Associate Professor Jay Ferrell, Assistant Professor and Extension Weed Specialist
Brent Sellers, Assistant Professor and Extension Weed Specialist
Ken Langeland, Professor and Extension Weed Specialist Agronomy Department, Gainesville and Range Cattle REC, Ona
Tina Duperron-Bond, DPM – Osceola County
Eileen Ketterer-Guest, former Graduate Research Assistant