Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Datasheet

Solanum torvum
(turkey berry)

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Datasheet

Solanum torvum (turkey berry)

Summary

  • Last modified
  • 19 November 2019
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Pest
  • Host Plant
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Solanum torvum
  • Preferred Common Name
  • turkey berry
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Plantae
  •     Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •       Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •         Class: Dicotyledonae
  • Summary of Invasiveness
  • The following summary is from Witt and Luke (2017):

    Description

    Erect shrub or small tree [0.8–3 (–5) m tall], y...

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Pictures

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PictureTitleCaptionCopyright
Flowers and leaves of a mature plant of S. torvum, near Honiara, Solomon Islands, April 1988.
TitleMature plant
CaptionFlowers and leaves of a mature plant of S. torvum, near Honiara, Solomon Islands, April 1988.
CopyrightJohn T. Swarbrick
Flowers and leaves of a mature plant of S. torvum, near Honiara, Solomon Islands, April 1988.
Mature plantFlowers and leaves of a mature plant of S. torvum, near Honiara, Solomon Islands, April 1988.John T. Swarbrick

Identity

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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Solanum torvum Sw.

Preferred Common Name

  • turkey berry

Other Scientific Names

  • Solanum largiflorum CT White (1917)

International Common Names

  • English: devil's fig; prickly Solanum; terongan; wild tomato
  • Spanish: belangera cimarrona
  • French: belangere batarde

Local Common Names

  • Fiji: katai; kausoni
  • Singapore: shu qie zi; terong pipit

EPPO code

  • SOLTO (Solanum torvum)

Summary of Invasiveness

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The following summary is from Witt and Luke (2017):

Description

Erect shrub or small tree [0.8–3 (–5) m tall], younger stems green or purplish, densely covered with hairs and sometimes sparsely covered with prickles or thorns (3–7 mm long), old stems brown or greenish-brown with no hairs.

Origin

Belize, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Venezuela and the Caribbean.

Reason for Introduction

Ornament and as a contaminant.

Invades

Forests, forest margins, waterways, plantation crops, roadsides, pastures, disturbed sites and waste areas.

Impacts

Once established, S. torvum can, by sprouting from the roots, form dense thickets capable of overrunning farmlands and pastures, and of displacing native vegetation. Turkey berry can rapidly overtop most herbs, grasses and other shrubs but cannot survive under a closed forest canopy. The vicious spines on the stem and small prickles on the leaves, inhibit the free movement of people, livestock and wildlife. Often consumed in traditional meals there have been reports of poisoning in humans.

Taxonomic Tree

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

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

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The genus Solanum contains about 1700 species. The generic name is derived from classical Greek and Roman terms, and means comforter a reflection of the medicinal properties of many members of the genus. The species name torvum means harsh, fierce or sharp.

The chromosome number is variously reported as n = 12 or 24 (Symon, 1981), and the plant may be polyploid.

Description

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S. torvum is an erect or spreading prickly shrub, 1 to 3 m tall. It reproduces solely by seed.

The root system consists of a deep and strong, woody taproot with numerous woody laterals.

The one to several soft-wooded stems are branched above, densely covered with fine stellate hairs and are scattered with broad-based, hooked prickles, 3 to 7 mm long. The stems are initially green becoming brown as they mature.

The leaves occur singly along the stems and are broadly ovate and 5-20 cm long, usually with seven broad, blunt lobes. Both surfaces are covered with very fine stellate hairs and have scattered prickles along the main veins. The upper surface is darker than the lower. The leaves have finely hairy petioles, 1 to 5 cm long, and vary considerably in shape and size depending on genetic origin and plant vigour.

The inflorescence is a dense, compact, branched head consisting of 50-100 flowers at the ends of branches. These occur laterally (between two leaves) as the stems elongate. Each flower has five slender finely hairy sepals 2 to 3 mm long, five white to cream star-shaped petals each about 1 cm long, five elongate yellow stamens and a central stigma.

The fruits are globular berries 1-1.5 cm across, at first green and scurfy but ripening to dull yellow and containing few to many flat, woody, often reddish seeds, 1.5 to 2 mm long.

The seedlings have a short, erect, hairy hypocotyl and a pair of bluntly tapering green cotyledons. The juvenile leaves develop singly and are stalked and entire, later becoming lobed (Ivens et al., 1978).

Distribution

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Although S. torvum originated in the West Indies, it has been spread as a useful plant and consequently as a weed throughout the tropics and subtropics.

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.

Last updated: 30 Jun 2021
Continent/Country/Region Distribution Last Reported Origin First Reported Invasive Reference Notes

Africa

BurundiPresentIntroducedInvasive
CameroonPresent, Localized
Congo, Democratic Republic of thePresent, Localized
Congo, Republic of thePresent
Côte d'IvoirePresent, Localized
Equatorial GuineaPresent
EthiopiaPresentIntroducedNaturalizedNaturalized
GabonPresent
GhanaPresent, Localized
GuineaPresent, Localized
LiberiaPresent, Localized
MalawiPresent
MauritiusPresent, Localized
NigeriaPresent, Localized
RéunionPresent
RwandaPresentIntroducedInvasive
SenegalPresent
Sierra LeonePresent
TanzaniaPresentIntroducedInvasive
ZambiaPresentIntroducedNaturalizedNaturalized

Asia

BangladeshPresent, Localized
BruneiPresent
CambodiaPresent
ChinaPresent, Localized
-GuangdongPresent
-GuangxiPresentOriginal citation: Wang, 1980
-GuizhouPresent
-HainanPresent
-JiangsuPresent
-JiangxiPresent
-YunnanPresentOriginal citation: Wang, 1980
Hong KongPresent
IndiaPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-Andhra PradeshPresent
-Arunachal PradeshPresent
-AssamPresent
-JharkhandPresent
-KarnatakaPresent
-KeralaPresent
-MeghalayaPresent
-OdishaPresent
-Tamil NaduPresent
-TripuraPresent
-Uttar PradeshPresent
IndonesiaPresent, Localized
-JavaPresentOriginal citation: Backer and (1973)
JapanPresent
MalaysiaPresent, Localized
NepalPresent
PakistanPresent
PhilippinesPresent, Localized
SingaporePresent
Sri LankaPresent, Localized
TaiwanPresent
ThailandPresent, Localized
VietnamPresent

Europe

FrancePresent
ItalyPresent
-SicilyPresent
SpainPresent

North America

BelizePresent
Costa RicaPresent, Localized
CubaPresent
DominicaPresent
El SalvadorPresent
GrenadaPresent
GuadeloupePresent
HondurasPresent, Localized
JamaicaPresent, Localized
MartiniquePresent
MexicoPresent, Localized
MontserratPresent
NicaraguaPresent
PanamaPresent, Localized
Puerto RicoPresent, Localized
Saint Kitts and NevisPresent
Saint LuciaPresent
Saint Vincent and the GrenadinesPresent
Trinidad and TobagoPresent
U.S. Virgin IslandsPresent
United StatesPresent, Widespread
-FloridaPresent
-HawaiiPresent
-North CarolinaPresentOriginal citation: North Carolina Dept of Agriculture and Consumer Se

Oceania

American SamoaPresent
AustraliaPresent, Localized
-New South WalesPresent
-Northern TerritoryPresent
-QueenslandPresent
Federated States of Micronesia
-KosraePresent
FijiPresent, Localized
French PolynesiaPresent
GuamPresent
New CaledoniaPresent
NiuePresent
PalauPresent
Papua New GuineaPresent, Localized
SamoaPresentInvasive
Solomon IslandsPresent, Widespread
TongaPresent
VanuatuPresent, Widespread

South America

BrazilPresent
-ParaibaPresent
-PernambucoPresent
-Rio de JaneiroPresent
ColombiaPresent
French GuianaPresent
VenezuelaPresent

Habitat

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S. torvum grows in a wide range of habitats throughout the tropics and subtropics. It grows best in warm moist fertile conditions, but once established it can withstand drought by shedding its leaves. In Papua New Guinea it grows from sea level to about 2000 m (Henty and Pritchard, 1975).

Hosts/Species Affected

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As a perennial species, S. torvum is unable to survive to maturity in annual crops and, as such, is most commonly a weed in perennial crops. In pastures it can be a major nuisance as it is woody, prickly and probably both unpalatable and poisonous. It is also common in uncultivated sites such as roadsides, abandoned farmlands, gardens, forest clearings, and around habitation and farm buildings.

Host Plants and Other Plants Affected

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Plant nameFamilyContextReferences
Ananas comosus (pineapple)BromeliaceaeMain
    Cocos nucifera (coconut)ArecaceaeOther
      Coffea (coffee)RubiaceaeOther
        Manihot esculenta (cassava)EuphorbiaceaeOther
          pasturesMain

            Biology and Ecology

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            Little has been recorded about the biology of S. torvum. Reproduction is solely by seed. Seedlings quickly establish their root systems and become woody, at which stage they are fairly resistant to physical control. Under suitable conditions the plants flower early. Pollination is by insects, and the seeds are dispersed by fruit-eating birds and bats as well as by water and in soil and trash.

            Notes on Natural Enemies

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            A number of natural enemies of S. torvum have been reported. These include Hansfordia pulvinata (Singh and Kamal, 1985), Polyphagotarsonemus latus (Almeguel et al., 1984), Leucinodes orbonalis (Isahaque and Chaudhuri, 1985), eggplant anthracnose (Fournet, 1973) and Bactrocera latifrons (Liquido et al., 1994). Many of these, however, also attack useful solanaceous crops such as tomatoes, aubergines and potatoes. Waterhouse and Norris (1987) list a number of polyphagous natural enemies for S. torvum, sugesting that Leptinotarsa undecimlineata may be host-specific.

            Impact

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            S. torvum is an invasive weed of pastures, roadsides and open native vegetation, and is occasionally found in cassava and other perennial crops in which it is not exposed to cultivation. It has been suggested that the plants are poisonous to stock, but no conclusive evidence is available.

            S. torvum is relatively resistant to Meloidogyne spp., and is used as a rootstock for grafting tomatoes in susceptible areas (Shetty and Reddy, 1985). It is also resistant to Pseudomonas solanacearum (Hebert, 1985) and phomopsis fruit rot of aubergine (Datar and Ashtaputre, 1988).

            The species is a natural host for many insects and pathogens (see Natural Enemies section).

            Uses

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            S. torvum is useful as a rootstock for tomatoes in areas sensitive to Meloidogyne spp. (Hebert, 1985; Shetty and Reddy, 1985). Its resistance to a number of pests also makes it useful as a source of resistant gene transfer into useful Solanaceous crops (Jadari et al., 1992).

            Uses List

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            Environmental

            • Graft stock

            Genetic importance

            • Related to

            Human food and beverage

            • Fruits
            • Vegetable

            Similarities to Other Species/Conditions

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            The genus Solanum contains several hundred branched prickly shrubs, many of which have become weeds in various tropical and subtropical countries.

            Although S. torvum is by far the most widespread of these, many other species can be equally or more important locally, and local floras or expertise may be needed to confirm identification. Some examples include S. incanum in Africa, S. sodomeum in Australia, New Zealand, and the USA, S. carolinense in the USA, S. paniculatum and several others in Brazil, illustrated by Lorenzi, 1982 and S. dubium in the Middle East.

            Prevention and Control

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            Due to the variable regulations around (de)registration of pesticides, your national list of registered pesticides or relevant authority should be consulted to determine which products are legally allowed for use in your country when considering chemical control. Pesticides should always be used in a lawful manner, consistent with the product's label.

            Cultural Control

            Seedlings may be hand pulled when the soil is wet, otherwise the plants need to be dug or grubbed out to remove the upper root from the soil either by hand or mechanical cultivation.

            Chemical Control

            Seedlings can be controlled in pasture with 2,4-D (Henty and Pritchard, 1975; Chadhokar, 1976). Australian registrations for the control of S. torvum are restricted to 2,4-D + picloram (Hamilton, 1997).

            Biological Control

            No work has been attempted to establish biological control agents for S. torvum, since it is too closely related to many useful crops and ornamentals.

            References

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            Links to Websites

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            GISD/IASPMR: Invasive Alien Species Pathway Management Resource and DAISIE European Invasive Alien Species Gatewayhttps://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.m93f6Data source for updated system data added to species habitat list.
            Global register of Introduced and Invasive species (GRIIS)http://griis.org/Data source for updated system data added to species habitat list.

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