Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Datasheet

Solanum capsicoides
(cockroach berry)

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Datasheet

Solanum capsicoides (cockroach berry)

Summary

  • Last modified
  • 08 November 2018
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Documented Species
  • Host Plant
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Solanum capsicoides
  • Preferred Common Name
  • cockroach berry
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Plantae
  •     Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •       Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •         Class: Dicotyledonae
  • Summary of Invasiveness
  • S. capsicoides is a herbaceous flowering shrub in the Solanaceae family. Its native range has been much disputed, but recently it has been agreed that it is native to coastal states of Brazil. S. capsicoide...

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Pictures

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PictureTitleCaptionCopyright
Solanum capsicoides (cockroach berry); foliage and ripe fruit. Carr Farm, Alachua County, west of Micanopy, Florida, USA.
TitleFoliage and fruit
CaptionSolanum capsicoides (cockroach berry); foliage and ripe fruit. Carr Farm, Alachua County, west of Micanopy, Florida, USA.
CopyrightPublic Domain - Released by the USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database/original by Mark A. Garland
Solanum capsicoides (cockroach berry); foliage and ripe fruit. Carr Farm, Alachua County, west of Micanopy, Florida, USA.
Foliage and fruitSolanum capsicoides (cockroach berry); foliage and ripe fruit. Carr Farm, Alachua County, west of Micanopy, Florida, USA.Public Domain - Released by the USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database/original by Mark A. Garland
Solanum capsicoides (cockroach berry); foliage and unripe fruit. Carr Farm, Alachua County, west of Micanopy, Florida, USA.
TitleFoliage and fruit
CaptionSolanum capsicoides (cockroach berry); foliage and unripe fruit. Carr Farm, Alachua County, west of Micanopy, Florida, USA.
CopyrightPublic Domain - Released by the USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database/original by Mark A. Garland
Solanum capsicoides (cockroach berry); foliage and unripe fruit. Carr Farm, Alachua County, west of Micanopy, Florida, USA.
Foliage and fruitSolanum capsicoides (cockroach berry); foliage and unripe fruit. Carr Farm, Alachua County, west of Micanopy, Florida, USA.Public Domain - Released by the USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database/original by Mark A. Garland
Solanum capsicoides (cockroach berry); foliage and typically Solanaceous flowers. USA.
TitleFoliage and flowers
CaptionSolanum capsicoides (cockroach berry); foliage and typically Solanaceous flowers. USA.
Copyright©Jeffrey W. Lotz/Florida Dept of Agriculture & Consumer Services/Bugwood.org - CC BY 3.0 US
Solanum capsicoides (cockroach berry); foliage and typically Solanaceous flowers. USA.
Foliage and flowersSolanum capsicoides (cockroach berry); foliage and typically Solanaceous flowers. USA.©Jeffrey W. Lotz/Florida Dept of Agriculture & Consumer Services/Bugwood.org - CC BY 3.0 US

Identity

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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Solanum capsicoides All.

Preferred Common Name

  • cockroach berry

Other Scientific Names

  • Solanum arrebenta Vell.
  • Solanum bodinieri H. Lév. & Vaniot
  • Solanum ciliare Willd.
  • Solanum ciliatum Lam.
  • Solanum sinuatifolium Vell.
  • Solanum sphaerocarpum Moric.

International Common Names

  • English: devil’s apple; love apple; red soda apple; soda apple
  • Spanish: mata cucaracha
  • Chinese: niu qie zi

Local Common Names

  • Brazil: joá-vermelho
  • Cook Islands: poro‘iti taratara
  • Dominican Republic: berenjena cimarrona; berenjena de gallina; berenjena de pollo
  • Lesser Antilles: poison diable
  • Malaysia/Peninsular Malaysia: terong asam hutan; terong perat; terong puyoh
  • Samoa: polo ‘ula; polo su‘i ‘ula
  • Sudan: terong kori; terong tenang
  • Sweden: guldbärsskatta
  • Thailand: khuea hin; ma khuea kham; ma khuea khuen
  • USA/Hawaii: akaaka; akaka; kikania lei

Summary of Invasiveness

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S. capsicoides is a herbaceous flowering shrub in the Solanaceae family. Its native range has been much disputed, but recently it has been agreed that it is native to coastal states of Brazil. S. capsicoides has been widely introduced around the world where it has naturalized and is reported as invasive in China, Taiwan, South Africa, Mexico, Hawaii and elsewhere. This species is also regarded as invasive in its native range (Lorenzi, 2000), however, there is little information available with regards to the impact of this species on the economy and environment. In the Cook Islands, S. capsicoides has been reported as a problem in cultivation. This species is also toxic to insects, mammals and livestock. A number of closely related species, including the fast growing and aggressive invader S. viarum, are also invasive. A PIER (2014) risk assessment gives this species a high risk score of 15.

Taxonomic Tree

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  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Plantae
  •         Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •             Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •                 Class: Dicotyledonae
  •                     Order: Solanales
  •                         Family: Solanaceae
  •                             Genus: Solanum
  •                                 Species: Solanum capsicoides

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

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The family Solanaceae consists of 90 genera and 3000-4000 species with great variation in habit and distribution on all continents except Antarctica, with the majority of species diversity in Central and South America (PBI Solanum Project, 2014). Taxonomy of the genus and its seven subgenera have undergone many revisions, but the overall genus consists of herbs, shrubs, trees, or herbaceous or woody vines, usually with spines or prickles, glabrous or pubescent with simple or stellate hairs (Acevedo-Rodriguez, 1996). The genus Solanum contains almost half of all the species within this family (ca. 1250-1700 species) and many formerly independent genera like Lycopersicon or Cyphomandra are now included in Solanum as subgenera or sections (Weese and Bohs, 2007; Stevens, 2012). The phylogenetic position of S. capsicoides places it firmly in the Ancanthophora clade and it is hypothesized to have shared a common ancestor with S. atropurpureum, S. tenuispinum and S. acerifolium approximately 2–5 million years ago (Sarkinen et al., 2013). Using molecular markers, Anilkumar and Murugan (2014) made a dendrogram cluster analysis and indicated three distinct clusters, one comprising accessions of S. mauritianum, S. capsicoides (spiny accession) and S. trilobatum,

For years the most commonly used name was S. ciliatum Lam., despite the legitimately published S. capsicoides name (derived from cultivated material in Italy) having been published nearly 20 years previously (Gras, 1863; Nee, 1979a; Nee, 1979b).

The Solanaceae is commonly known as “the nightshade family” due to the poisonous alkaloids present in some species (Weese and Bohs, 2007). While the etymology of the genus’ scientific name is unclear, it may be derived from the Latin word “sol”, meaning "sun," referring to its affinity for sunlight, or from the Latin word “solare”, meaning "to soothe”, the Latin word “solamen”, meaning "a comfort", or the Akkadian word “sululu”, meaning “happy”, in reference to the narcotic effects of some Solanum species after ingestion (Smith, 1971; Wiart, 2006; Quattrocchi, 2012; New Zealand Plant Conservation Network, 2014).

The common name of S. capsicoides, cockroach berry, refers to the supposed use of the fruits for cockroach and rodent control, for example in Puerto Rico (Nee, 1979a; Mabberley, 1997; Levin et al., 2005; Staples et al., 2005).

Description

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The following description is taken from Nee et al. (2014);

Habit: Shrubs 0.3–1 (–2) m tall, much branched, sprawling, occasionally appearing scandent. Young stems terete, often conspicuously flexuous, with abundant minute white lenticels making a very fine speckled pattern visible to the naked eye, with minute stipitate glands, otherwise nearly glabrous to moderately pilose with slender, spreading simple trichomes, 3–5 mm long, ca. 8-celled, hyaline, sparsely to densely prickly with straight and slightly reflexed prickles 10-15 mm long, to 2 mm thick at the base, gradually tapering distally, yellowish, with a few minute stipitate glands near the base. Sympodial structure: Sympodial units difoliate, geminate. Leaves: Leaves entire or with a few lobes, the blades 7–12 cm long, 6–11 cm wide, about as long as wide, with the major leaf about twice the size of the minor, broadly ovate to suborbicular, membranous, armed on both surfaces with straight acicular prickles, the large prickles similar to those of the petiole, grading down to minute ones on smaller veins; adaxial surfaces pubescent with minute stipitate glands, sparsely and evenly pilose with uniform 4–5-celled simple hyaline trichomes 1.5–2.8 mm long, these visible to the naked eye as shiny white hairs in well preserved specimens; abaxial surfaces sparsely pilose with scattered 5–7-celled simple hyaline trichomes 2.2–3.6 mm long and with conspicuous white dots, lacking stellate hairs; base cordate; margins lobed, usually with 2–3 pairs of acute lobes, sometimes lobed 2/3 of the way to the midrib and these often lobed again with coarse acute teeth, sometimes merely coarsely dentate, ciliate; apex acute; petioles of larger leaves 2–10 (–13) cm, the pubescence similar to that of the stem, with 8–15 straight acicular prickles to 15 mm long, ca. 2.4 mm wide at the base, these mostly larger than the stem prickles. Inflorescences: Inflorescences lateral, almost sessile, unbranched, with 1-7 flowers, with pubescence similar to that of the stem; moderately armed with straight prickles 1–4.5 mm long from somewhat enlarged bases; peduncle less than 5 mm; pedicels ca. 1 cm long, little enlarged at the apex, articulated at the base; pedicel scars spaced 0–1 mm apart. Flowers: Flowers 5-merous, heterostylous, the plant andromonoecious, only the lower 1 or 2 flowers long-styled and fertile, the rest short-styled and staminate. Calyx ca. 5 mm, pubescent with minute stipitate glands and pilose with 4–6-celled simple hyaline hairs 2–3 mm long, unarmed or with a few prickles, the lobes ca. 3 mm long, 2 mm wide, triangular, with green tips and somewhat scarious lateral margins. Corollas 1.5–2 cm in diameter, white, glossy light greenish at base, stellate, lobed ca. ¾ of the way to the base, the lobes 8–10.5 mm long, 3–3.6 mm wide, narrowly triangular, recurved, sometimes the tips making a complete coil, glabrous or with a few simple hyaline hairs 2–3 mm long abaxially. Stamens equal, connivent, the filament tube minute, the free portion of the filaments ca. 1.8 mm long, glabrous; anthers 5–6.5 mm long, ca. 2 mm wide, tapering, dark yellow on the outside surface at the base, fading to lighter yellow at tips and on inside, poricidal at the tips, the pores small and directed distally. Ovary ca. 1.8 mm in diameter, white, minutely stipitate-glandular; style ca. 8 mm long in long-styled flowers, exceeding the stamens by 1.5 mm, glabrous except for a few minute stipitate glands at the base; capitate, slightly bilobed, bright green in live plants, minutely papillose. Fruits: Fruit a globose berry, 1 (-2) per infructescence, 2–3.5 cm in diameter, the pericarp 2.5–4 mm thick, tough, bright matte orange, glabrous, the endocarp white, spongy, with scant tasteless watery sap; fruiting calyx lobes elongating and becoming thickened, the lobes ca. 6 mm long, heavily armed with prickles 1–7 mm long with conspicuously enlarged bases; fruiting pedicels 1.5–2 cm long, curved. Seeds: 175–415 per fruit (average = 300, n = 15), 4–6 mm long, 4-5 mm wide, flattened and irregularly circular, straw-colored, winged, the wing 0.8–1.5 mm wide.

Plant Type

Top of page Herbaceous
Perennial
Seed propagated
Shrub
Woody

Distribution

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S. capsicoides has been regarded as native in North America, the Caribbean Islands and northern South America (Boggan et al., 1997; Acevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012; Bryson et al., 2012; USDA-NRCS, 2013; Markle et al., 2014; Wunderlin and Hansen, 2014). However more recently it has been agreed that this species is not native to the Caribbean or North America and is native only to coastal states of Brazil (Nee, 1979a; Staples et al., 2005; Stehmann et al., 2014). Evidence supports this and suggests that S. capsicoides is native to Eastern Brazil in “restinga”, Caatinga and in disturbed parts of the Atlantic Rainforest (Michael Nee, personal communication, Richland Center, Wisconsin, 2014; Stehmann et al., 2014).

Furthermore the inconsistent native status that S. capsicoides has been given in the Caribbean Islands and North America (Acevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012), including sites that are not that distant from each other e.g. Cuba and Florida, seemed difficult to explain in the absence of human mediated dispersal. Upon making further enquiries during the preparation of this report the authors revised their designation as a native species for that region. In conclusion there is no evidence that this plant is native outside of eastern parts of coastal South America, north and south of Rio de Janeiro.

Distribution Table

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The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.

Continent/Country/RegionDistributionLast ReportedOriginFirst ReportedInvasiveReferenceNotes

Asia

CambodiaPresentIntroducedGBIF, 2014
ChinaPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-FujianWidespreadIntroduced Invasive Zhang et al., 1994; Flora of China Editorial Committee, 2015
-GuangdongWidespreadIntroduced Invasive Zhang et al., 1994; Flora of China Editorial Committee, 2015
-GuangxiWidespreadIntroduced Invasive Zhang et al., 1994; Flora of China Editorial Committee, 2015
-GuizhouWidespreadIntroduced Invasive Zhang et al., 1994; Flora of China Editorial Committee, 2015
-HainanWidespreadIntroduced Invasive Zhang et al., 1994; Flora of China Editorial Committee, 2015
-HenanPresentIntroducedFlora of China Editorial Committee, 2015
-Hong KongWidespreadIntroduced1895 Invasive Xu et al., 2012
-HunanPresentIntroducedFlora of China Editorial Committee, 2015
-JiangsuWidespreadIntroduced Invasive Zhang et al., 1994; Flora of China Editorial Committee, 2015
-JiangxiWidespreadIntroduced Invasive Zhang et al., 1994; Flora of China Editorial Committee, 2015
-LiaoningPresent only in captivity/cultivationIntroducedFlora of China Editorial Committee, 2015
-SichuanWidespreadIntroduced Invasive Zhang et al., 1994; Flora of China Editorial Committee, 2015
-YunnanWidespreadIntroduced Invasive Zhang et al., 1994; Flora of China Editorial Committee, 2015
-ZhejiangWidespreadIntroduced Invasive Zhang et al., 1994; Flora of China Editorial Committee, 2015
IndiaPresentIntroducedGBIF, 2014
IndonesiaPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-JavaWidespreadIntroducedBlomqvist and Nguyen, 1999Naturalized
-SumatraWidespreadIntroducedBlomqvist and Nguyen, 1999Naturalized
JapanPresentIntroducedGBIF, 2014Satsuma, Oshima
LaosPresentIntroducedGBIF, 2014
MalaysiaPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-Peninsular MalaysiaWidespreadIntroducedBlomqvist and Nguyen, 1999Naturalized
Sri LankaWidespreadIntroducedBlomqvist and Nguyen, 1999Naturalized
TaiwanWidespreadIntroduced1899 Invasive D'Arcy and Peng, 1998; Wu et al., 2004; Flora of China Editorial Committee, 2015
ThailandWidespreadIntroducedBlomqvist and Nguyen, 1999Naturalized

Africa

Côte d'IvoirePresentIntroducedBurkill, 1995
GhanaPresentIntroducedGBIF, 2014
LiberiaPresentIntroducedBurkill, 1995
RwandaPresentIntroducedGBIF, 2014
Saint HelenaPresentIntroducedGBIF, 2014
Sao Tome and PrincipePresentIntroducedGBIF, 2014Princes Island
South AfricaPresentIntroduced Invasive Welman, 2003; SANBI, 2013
TanzaniaPresentIntroducedGBIF, 2014

North America

MexicoPresentIntroduced Invasive Villaseñor and Espinosa-Garcia, 2004; GBIF, 2014
USAPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-AlabamaWidespreadIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2013
-FloridaPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2013; Wunderlin and Hansen, 2014
-HawaiiWidespreadIntroduced1837 Invasive Staples and Herbst, 2005; Imada, 2012
-LouisianaWidespreadIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2013
-MississippiWidespreadIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2013
-North CarolinaLocalisedIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2013
-South CarolinaLocalisedIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2013
-TexasLocalisedIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2013

Central America and Caribbean

Antigua and BarbudaPresentIntroducedAcevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012
BahamasPresentGBIF, 2014
BarbadosPresentIntroducedAcevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012
CaribbeanPresentIntroducedNee, 1979
Costa RicaWidespreadGBIF, 2014
CubaPresentIntroducedAcevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012
DominicaPresentIntroducedAcevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012
Dominican RepublicPresentAcevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012
GrenadaPresentIntroducedAcevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012
GuadeloupePresentIntroducedAcevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012
HaitiPresentAcevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012
HondurasPresentMast et al., 2015
JamaicaPresentGBIF, 2014
MartiniquePresentIntroducedAcevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012
NicaraguaWidespreadGBIF, 2014
PanamaPresentGBIF, 2014
Puerto RicoWidespreadIntroducedAcevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012; USDA-NRCS, 2013
Saint Kitts and NevisPresentIntroducedAcevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012
Saint LuciaPresentIntroducedAcevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012
Saint Vincent and the GrenadinesPresentIntroducedAcevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012
Trinidad and TobagoPresentAcevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012

South America

ArgentinaPresentGBIF, 2014Isla Apipé Grande
BrazilWidespreadNative Not invasive Stehmann et al., 2014; Flora of China Editorial Committee, 2015
-AlagoasWidespreadNative Not invasive Stehmann et al., 2014
-BahiaWidespreadNative Not invasive Stehmann et al., 2014
-CearaWidespreadNative Not invasive Stehmann et al., 2014
-Espirito SantoWidespreadNative Not invasive Stehmann et al., 2014
-Minas GeraisWidespreadNative Not invasive Stehmann et al., 2014
-ParaibaWidespreadNative Not invasive Stehmann et al., 2014
-ParanaWidespreadNative Not invasive Stehmann et al., 2014
-PernambucoWidespreadNative Not invasive Stehmann et al., 2014
-Rio de JaneiroWidespreadNative Not invasive Stehmann et al., 2014
-Rio Grande do NorteWidespreadNative Not invasive Stehmann et al., 2014
-Rio Grande do SulWidespreadNative Not invasive Stehmann et al., 2014
-Santa CatarinaWidespreadNative Not invasive Stehmann et al., 2014
-Sao PauloWidespreadNative Not invasive Stehmann et al., 2014
-SergipeWidespreadNative Not invasive Stehmann et al., 2014
ChilePresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-Easter IslandPresent only in captivity/cultivationIntroducedMeyer, 2009
ColombiaPresentMissouri Botanical Garden, 2014
EcuadorPresentGBIF, 2014
-Galapagos IslandsPresent only in captivity/cultivationIntroducedGuézou et al., 2007Floreana, Isabela and San Cristobal Islands
GuyanaPresentBoggan et al., 1997
ParaguayPresentGBIF, 2014
PeruPresentLevin et al., 2006
SurinamePresentIntroducedBoggan et al., 1997
VenezuelaPresentMissouri Botanical Garden, 2014

Europe

AustriaPresentIntroducedDAISIE, 2015
BelgiumPresentIntroducedVerloove, 2006; DAISIE, 2015
FrancePresent only in captivity/cultivationIntroducedGBIF, 2014
SwedenPresent only in captivity/cultivationIntroduced
UKPresent only in captivity/cultivationIntroducedClement and Foster, 1994

Oceania

AustraliaPresentIntroduced Invasive
-New South WalesWidespreadIntroduced1885 Invasive Council of Heads of Australasian Herbaria, 2014First herbarium record in Great Lakes Region
-QueenslandWidespreadIntroduced1987 Invasive Council of Heads of Australasian Herbaria, 2014Near Brisbane
Cook IslandsPresentIntroduced Invasive McCormack, 2013; PIER, 2014
French PolynesiaWidespreadIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2014Hiva Oa, Ua Huka (Huahuna, Uahuka), Ua Pou (Huapu, Uapou, Uapu), Raiatea (Havai) , Tahiti, Raivavae, Rimatara and Rurutu Islands
New CaledoniaPresentIntroducedGBIF, 2014
SamoaPresentIntroduced Invasive Space and Flynn, 2002Present at Asau on Savai‘i
TongaPresentIntroduced Invasive Space and Flynn, 2001Present in ‘Eua and Vava‘u becoming widespread
VanuatuPresentIntroducedPIER, 2014

History of Introduction and Spread

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S. capsicoides is widespread in tropical and subtropical regions of the world having been introduced from Brazil (Staples et al., 2005). It was not identified by early botanists in the West Indies, so being prima facie proof that it was introduced (it was first recorded in the early 1800s). Nee (1979a) suggests that this species was introduced in post-Columbian times to North America, Mexico, Hawaii and the Old World. 

There is evidence to suggest that S. capsicoides was introduced into a number of countries for ornamental purposes during the nineteenth century. These include Hawaii (1837), New South Wales, Australia (1885), Queensland, Australia (1887), Hong Kong (1895) and Taiwan (1899) (Wu et al., 2004; Staples et al., 2005; Xu et al., 2012; Council Heads of Australasian Herbaria, 2014).

Introductions

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Introduced toIntroduced fromYearReasonIntroduced byEstablished in wild throughReferencesNotes
Natural reproductionContinuous restocking
Hawaii 1837 Horticulture (pathway cause) Yes Staples and Herbst (2005) First record, likely to have been introduced as an ornamental
Hong Kong 1895 Horticulture (pathway cause) Yes Wu et al. (2004) First record, likely to have been introduced as an ornamental
New South Wales 1885 Horticulture (pathway cause) Yes Council of Heads of Australasian Herbaria (2014) First record, likely to have been introduced as an ornamental
Queensland 1887 Horticulture (pathway cause) Yes Xu et al. (2012) First record, likely to have been introduced as an ornamental
Taiwan 1899 Horticulture (pathway cause) Yes Wu et al. (2004) First record, likely to have been introduced as an ornamental

Risk of Introduction

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A PIER (2014) risk assessment gives this species a high risk score of 15 due to its wide climatic tolerances. It is likely that this species will be intentionally introduced into new areas. For example, S. capsicoides has been suggested for use as a root stock to be grafted to S. melongena and S. lycopersicum in cooler climates. It is however unclear whether the author of the article correctly identified the species of “devil plant” (Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, 2014). Seeds of S. capsicoides are also available online.

Habitat

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S. capsicoides is a pioneer species and generally prefers lowland unshaded humid, mesic to wet tropical to subtropical sites, doing best in frost-free areas or where frosts are infrequent. It occurs in sites with climates moderated by oceanic influences (Weakley, 2012; Council of Heads of Australasian Herbaria, 2014; GBIF, 2014; Nee et al., 2014). It prefers sandy sites, but is also recorded on wet alluvial clay and limestone derived soils (Nee et al., 2014). S. capsicoides is declared a facultative wetland plant, though probably does not grow in sites with permanent standing water (USDA-NRCS, 2013). It is often associated with disturbed sites and has been described as a weed of waste places, roadsides, pastures, old coffee plantations, cultivated lands, open woods and around dwellings (Zhang et al., 1994; Nee et al., 2014).

In its native range it occurs in low stature and open forests, open shrubland and a distinct type of coastal tropical and subtropical moist broadleaf forest, found in eastern Brazil called 'restinga' (Michael Nee, personal communication, Richland Center, Wisconsin, 2014). The habitat description for the Brazilian checklist of plants includes 'caatinga', which is a drier habitat type and hints that S. capsicoides has broad tolerance of conditions. However, the area has a strong rainy season during which would enable plants to grow and reproduce (Stehmann et al., 2014).

Habitat List

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CategorySub-CategoryHabitatPresenceStatus
Terrestrial
 
Terrestrial – ManagedCultivated / agricultural land Principal habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
Cultivated / agricultural land Principal habitat Natural
Cultivated / agricultural land Principal habitat Productive/non-natural
Managed grasslands (grazing systems) Principal habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
Managed grasslands (grazing systems) Principal habitat Natural
Managed grasslands (grazing systems) Principal habitat Productive/non-natural
Disturbed areas Principal habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
Disturbed areas Principal habitat Natural
Rail / roadsides Principal habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
Rail / roadsides Principal habitat Natural
Terrestrial ‑ Natural / Semi-naturalWetlands Principal habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
Wetlands Principal habitat Natural

Biology and Ecology

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Genetics

A chromosome number of 2n= 24 has been reported for S. capsicoides (Acosta et al., 2005).

Reproductive Biology

S. capsicoides reproduces by producing fruit which contain a large number of seeds. Fruit 2-5 cm in diameter are round and pale green, turning yellow then persimmon red to scarlet at maturity, sometimes splitting open to reveal 160-420 compressed winged hyaline margined seeds (3-6 mm in diameter) (Levin et al., 2005; Bryson et al., 2012).

Physiology and Phenology

S. capsicoides flowers year round, even in Florida (Nee et al., 2014). After planting seeds under greenhouse conditions, plants will emerge within 10 days, with the first flowers appearing after 49 days with the average height at this time being 62 cm (Bryson et al., 2012). Fruits are usually dry at maturity and split irregularly to permit broad winged seeds which may be adapted to wind or water dispersal.

According to Nee (1979b) the plant is adapted to disturbed habitats such as the 'restinga' and coastal sand dunes, as evidenced by a lower growing, more spreading form than erect and single-stemmed relatives of mesic and wooded habitats such as S. acerifolium or S. atropurpureum.

Longevity

S. capsicoides is an annual or short lived species (PIER, 2014).

Climate

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ClimateStatusDescriptionRemark
Af - Tropical rainforest climate Preferred > 60mm precipitation per month
As - Tropical savanna climate with dry summer Preferred < 60mm precipitation driest month (in summer) and < (100 - [total annual precipitation{mm}/25])
Aw - Tropical wet and dry savanna climate Preferred < 60mm precipitation driest month (in winter) and < (100 - [total annual precipitation{mm}/25])
Cf - Warm temperate climate, wet all year Tolerated Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, wet all year
Cw - Warm temperate climate with dry winter Tolerated Warm temperate climate with dry winter (Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, dry winters)

Soil Tolerances

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Soil reaction

  • acid
  • alkaline
  • neutral
  • very acid
  • very alkaline

Soil texture

  • heavy
  • light
  • medium

Natural enemies

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Natural enemyTypeLife stagesSpecificityReferencesBiological control inBiological control on
Euoidium lycopersici Pathogen Leaves not specific Lebeda and Mieslerová, 1999
Leveillula taurica Pathogen Leaves to genus Bubici and Cirulli, 2008
tropical soda apple mosaic virus Pathogen Leaves to genus Adkins et al., 2007

Notes on Natural Enemies

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A number of pathogens are known to infect S. capsicoides. These include soda apple mosaic virus (Adkins et al., 2007), tomato powdery mildew (Oidium lycopersici [Euoidium lycopersici]) (Lebeda and Mieslerová, 1999) and powdery mildew (Leveillula taurica) (Bubici and Cirulli, 2008).

The leaf beetle Metriona elatior from Brazil and Argentina was found to feed lightly on S. capsicoides, but could not complete its lifecycle on it (Medal et al., 1999; Gandolfo et al., 2008). During host range testing of biocontrol agents for S. viarum, the leaf feeding beetle Gratiana boliviana was seen to feed on S. capsicoides during no choice tests. This species however did not feed on the plant in the field when the agent was released (Medal et al., 2008; Overholt et al., 2008). As a result S. capsicoides is not considered to be a fundamental host for these insects.

Means of Movement and Dispersal

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Natural Dispersal

Seeds of S. capsicoides are winged suggesting that they are dispersed by wind (Nee, 1979a; Levin et al., 2005; Levin et al., 2006). Seeds can float on water and are dispersed into new areas (PIER, 2014).

Vector Transmission

It has been suggested that seeds may also be dispersed either externally or internally by cows (Markle et al., 2014). In Australia, birds are also suspected agents of dispersal (Hank Bower, personal communication, Manager Environment/World Heritage Lord Howe Island Board, 2014).

Accidental Introduction

Seeds of related species are known to spread via equipment used for transport of livestock and other farming equipment.

Intentional Introduction

In some Pacific Islands, S. capsicoides is used for lei making and is sometimes regarded as an ornamental plant (Space and Flynn, 2001; Space and Flynn, 2002a; Space and Flynn, 2002b; Staples et al., 2005). Additionally, S. capsicoides is promoted as a rootstock for grafting S. melongena and S. lycopersicum. As a result this species is readily available for trade and sale on the internet (Staples et al., 2005).

Pathway Causes

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CauseNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
Crop productionPrevalent in cow pastures in Florida Yes Yes Markle et al., 2014
Cut flower tradeused in lei making Yes Yes Staples and Herbst, 2005
Digestion and excretionMay be dispersed by cows Yes Markle et al., 2014
DisturbanceWeed of waste areas Yes Yes Zhang et al., 1994
Escape from confinement or garden escapeUsed as an ornamental and promoted as rootstock for eggplant Yes Yes Staples and Herbst, 2005
Flooding and other natural disastersSeeds known to float Yes Yes Levin et al., 2005
Garden waste disposalSeeds could be a contaminant in garden waste Yes
Internet salesSeeds available online Yes Yes
Nursery trade Yes Yes
Ornamental purposesIntroduced intentionally for its attractive and bright coloured fruit Yes Staples and Herbst, 2005
Seed tradeSeeds sold online Yes Yes

Pathway Vectors

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VectorNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
Clothing, footwear and possessions Yes
LivestockAssociated with pastures and areas disturbed by cows Yes Markle et al., 2014
Mail Yes Yes
Water Yes Yes Levin et al., 2005
Wind Yes Levin et al., 2005

Impact Summary

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CategoryImpact
Cultural/amenity Positive and negative
Economic/livelihood Positive and negative
Environment (generally) Negative
Human health Negative

Impact: Economic

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As a spiny perennial shrub common in disturbed sites, S. capsicoides could easily become a nuisance, can degrade pasture quality and interfere with crop production (Markle et al., 2014). In the Cook Islands, S. capsicoides is present in cultivation and thus has a negative impact on crop yields. Nevertheless, no assessment on the economic impact of this has been made.

Impact: Environmental

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There is little information with regards to the impact of S. capsicoides on the environment. It is regarded as a minor environmental weed in Australia although the impacts are not stated (Queensland Government, 2015).

Impact: Social

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Although S. capsicoides is toxic to people and livestock there are no references to it causing major problems.

Risk and Impact Factors

Top of page Invasiveness
  • Invasive in its native range
  • Proved invasive outside its native range
  • Has a broad native range
  • Abundant in its native range
  • Highly adaptable to different environments
  • Tolerates, or benefits from, cultivation, browsing pressure, mutilation, fire etc
  • Pioneering in disturbed areas
  • Benefits from human association (i.e. it is a human commensal)
  • Fast growing
Impact outcomes
  • Modification of successional patterns
  • Negatively impacts agriculture
  • Negatively impacts cultural/traditional practices
  • Negatively impacts human health
  • Negatively impacts animal health
  • Reduced amenity values
  • Transportation disruption
Impact mechanisms
  • Causes allergic responses
  • Competition - monopolizing resources
  • Competition - shading
  • Pest and disease transmission
  • Poisoning
  • Rapid growth
  • Produces spines, thorns or burrs
Likelihood of entry/control
  • Highly likely to be transported internationally accidentally
  • Highly likely to be transported internationally deliberately
  • Difficult to identify/detect as a commodity contaminant

Uses

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Social Benefit

S. capsicoides is toxic and plants have been used for insect and rodent control (Levin et al., 2005).

Despite its toxicity, it is sometimes eaten or used in traditional medicine under specific methods of preparation (Blomqvist and Nguyen, 1999; Staples et al., 2005). The fruits can be charred and pounded into oil and used to treat skin complaints (Blomqvist and Nguyen, 1999). In Peninsular Malaysia, the pounded roots have been applied to the gums to treat toothache and the smoke of dried, pounded and burned seeds has been inhaled to cure an ulcerated nose (Blomqvist and Nguyen, 1999). The fruits of S. capsicoides are supposedly edible when roasted or cooked in curry (Staples et al., 2005).

S. capsicoides is sometimes cultivated as an ornamental for its decorative fruits and used as a lei making material (Blomqvist and Nguyen, 1999; Staples et al., 2005).

Uses List

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Animal feed, fodder, forage

  • pesticide, pest repellent

General

  • Sociocultural value

Medicinal, pharmaceutical

  • Source of medicine/pharmaceutical
  • Traditional/folklore

Ornamental

  • Seed trade

Detection and Inspection

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DNA sequences are available at NCBI (NCBI, 2014; Nee et al., 2014) which can be used for molecular identification to determine whether plant material is this species.
 

Similarities to Other Species/Conditions

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S. capsicoides has a number of distinctive features which allow it to be distinguished from other similar weedy spiny Solanum species (Nee et al., 2014). Regional keys should allow specimens to be distinguished from other similar plants (Wagner et al., 1999; Staples et al., 2005; Wunderlin and Hansen, 2014). Photos are provided in Bryson et al. (2012).

S. capsicoides is morphologically similar to a number of related species in the genus Solanum. These include S. rostratum, S. carolinense, S. jamaicense, S. mammosum, S. dimidiatum, S. elaeagnifolium, S. sisymbriifolium, S. viarum, S. torvum and S. tampicense. S. capsicoides can be easily distinguished when its orange-red fruit are present, especially because the seeds are unique being a yellowish, compressed discoid with a conspicuous orbicular wing, that are about 4-6 mm in diameter, including wings (Nee, 1979a; Zhang et al., 1994; Bryson et al., 2012). The following species possess flowers with narrow, deeply lobed petals; S. capsicoides (0.5–2.5 cm wide; corolla white), S. bahamense (1.5–2.5 cm wide; corolla violet blue to white), S. myriacanthum (0.7–1.5 cm wide; corolla yellowish-green to white), S. jamaicense (1.0–1.25 cm wide; corolla white), S. donianum (1.0–1.6 cm wide, corolla white), S. mammosum (1.8–3.0 cm wide; corolla lavender to purple), S. viarum (0.7–1.5 cm wide; corolla white, deeply lobed, petals recurved) and S. tampicense (0.5–1.5 cm wide; corolla white to creamy-white, deeply lobed, petals straight or slightly recurved).

A useful comparison of morphological and developmental characters of several similar spiny nightshades is given by Bryson et al. (2012).

Prevention and Control

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Prevention

Eradication

Possible incipient populations of S. capsicoides were identified via surveys of private properties in Galápagos (Guézou et al., 2010; Guézou et al., 2007). As a result this species is considered a possible target for eradication on Isabela Island in the Galápagos (Guézou et al., 2007).

Control

Cultural Control and Sanitary Measures

Care should be taken when attempting to control S. capsicoides so that plants or seeds are not accidentally transported into new locations.

Physical/Mechanical Control

Some control ofS. capsicoides can be achieved by hand pulling plants, especially on sandy soils. However, this is best undertaken prior to fruiting.

Chemical Control

Specific control methods for S. capsicoides are not available however a few herbicides are recommended for control of a number of closely related species of Solanaceae. For example, foliar applications of aminopyralid, triclopyr, glyphosate, dicamba, 2,4-D plus dicamba and picloram plus 2,4-D have all been suggested (Call et al., 2000; Motooka et al., 2002; Markle et al., 2014).

Ecosystem Restoration

Planting of trees or shubs to provide shade could competitively exclude the shade intolerant S. capsicoides.

Gaps in Knowledge/Research Needs

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There is very little information on a number of aspects of S. capsicoides. For example, there is limited information on the biology and control of this species. Despite being recorded as a high risk species (PIER, 2014) there is also very little information available with regards to the impact this species (social, environmental and economic).

References

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Contributors

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12/07/2014 Original text by:

Christopher E. Buddenhagen, Department of Biological Sciences, Florida State University, Florida, USA

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