Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide


Solanum torvum
(turkey berry)



Solanum torvum (turkey berry)


  • Last modified
  • 13 December 2018
  • 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

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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


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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):


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.


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.


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


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

Top of page 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.


Top of page 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).


Top of page 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.

Continent/Country/RegionDistributionLast ReportedOriginFirst ReportedInvasivePlantedReferenceNotes


BangladeshRestricted distributionHolm et al., 1991; EPPO, 2014
Brunei DarussalamPresentPeregrine and Ahmad, 1982
CambodiaPresentHolm et al., 1991
ChinaRestricted distributionHolm et al., 1991; EPPO, 2014
-GuangxiPresentWang, 1980
-YunnanPresentWang, 1980
IndiaPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-AssamPresentIsahaque and Chaudhuri, 1985
-KeralaPresentSingh and Gopalakrishnan, 1997
IndonesiaRestricted distributionHolm et al., 1991; EPPO, 2014
-JavaPresentBacker and, 1973
JapanPresentMatsuzoe et al., 1996
MalaysiaRestricted distributionNarikawa et al., 1988; EPPO, 2014
PhilippinesRestricted distributionHolm et al., 1991; EPPO, 2014
Sri LankaRestricted distributionHolm et al., 1991; EPPO, 2014
ThailandRestricted distributionHolm et al., 1991; EPPO, 2014


BurundiPresentIntroduced Invasive Witt and Luke, 2017
CameroonRestricted distributionHeine, 1963; EPPO, 2014
Congo Democratic RepublicRestricted distributionHolm et al., 1991; EPPO, 2014
Côte d'IvoireRestricted distributionHolm et al., 1991; Goly and Tehe, 1997; EPPO, 2014
Equatorial GuineaPresentHeine, 1963
EthiopiaPresentIntroducedWitt and Luke, 2017Naturalized
GhanaRestricted distributionHeine, 1963; Holm et al., 1991; EPPO, 2014
GuineaRestricted distributionHolm et al., 1991; EPPO, 2014
LiberiaRestricted distributionHeine, 1963; Holm et al., 1991; EPPO, 2014
MalawiPresentHolm et al., 1991
MauritiusRestricted distributionAnon, 1998b; Holm et al., 1991; EPPO, 2014
NigeriaRestricted distributionHeine, 1963; Holm et al., 1991; EPPO, 2014
RwandaPresentIntroduced Invasive Witt and Luke, 2017
SenegalPresentHeine, 1963; Holm et al., 1991
Sierra LeonePresentHeine, 1963
TanzaniaPresentIntroduced Invasive Witt and Luke, 2017
ZambiaPresentIntroducedWitt and Luke, 2017Naturalized

North America

MexicoRestricted distributionHolm et al., 1991; Breedlove, 1998; EPPO, 2014
USAWidespreadHolm et al., 1991; EPPO, 2014
-FloridaPresentWestbrooks and Eplee, 1988
-HawaiiPresentLiquido et al., 1994
-North CarolinaPresentNorth Carolina Dept of Agriculture and Consumer Se

Central America and Caribbean

Costa RicaRestricted distributionHolm et al., 1991; EPPO, 2014
CubaPresentAlmaguel et al., 1984
DominicaPresentFournet and Hammerton, 1991
GrenadaPresentFournet and Hammerton, 1991
GuadeloupePresentFournet, 1973
HondurasRestricted distributionHolm et al., 1991; EPPO, 2014
JamaicaRestricted distributionHolm et al., 1991; EPPO, 2014
MartiniquePresentFournet, 1973
MontserratPresentFournet and Hammerton, 1991
PanamaRestricted distributionHolm et al., 1991; EPPO, 2014
Puerto RicoRestricted distributionHolm et al., 1991; EPPO, 2014
Saint Kitts and NevisPresentFournet and Hammerton, 1991
Saint LuciaPresentFournet and Hammerton, 1991
Saint Vincent and the GrenadinesPresentFournet and Hammerton, 1991


ItalyPresentAnon, 1998a


American SamoaPresentWaterhouse, 1997
AustraliaRestricted distributionHolm et al., 1991; EPPO, 2014
-Australian Northern TerritoryPresentHnatiuk, 1990
-New South WalesPresentHnatiuk, 1990
-QueenslandPresentHnatiuk, 1990
FijiRestricted distributionParham, 1958; Holm et al., 1991; Waterhouse, 1997; EPPO, 2014
French PolynesiaPresentWaterhouse, 1997
GuamPresentWaterhouse, 1997
New CaledoniaPresentMacKee, 1985; Waterhouse, 1997
NiuePresentWaterhouse, 1997
Papua New GuineaRestricted distributionHenty and Pritchard, 1975; Holm et al., 1991; EPPO, 2014
SamoaPresent Invasive Whistler, 1983; Waterhouse, 1997; Space and Flynn, 2002
Solomon IslandsWidespreadHancock and Henderson, 1988; Waterhouse, 1997
TongaPresentWhistler, 1983; Waterhouse, 1997
VanuatuWidespreadWaterhouse, 1997


Top of page 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

Top of page 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.

Biology and Ecology

Top of page 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

Top of page 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.


Top of page 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).


Top of page 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).

Similarities to Other Species/Conditions

Top of page 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.


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Breedlove DE, 1998. Floristic list for Mexico. IV. Flora of Chiapas. World Wide Web page at http//

Chadhokar PA, 1976. Control of devil's fig (Solanum torvum Sw.) in tropical pastures. PANS, 22(1):75-78

Datar VV, Ashtaputre JU, 1988. Studies on resistance to Phomopsis fruit rot in eggplant. Indian Phytopathology, 41(4):637-638

EPPO, 2014. PQR database. Paris, France: European and Mediterranean Plant Protection Organization.

Fournet J, 1973. Anthracnose of eggplant in the Antilles II. Methods of control. Annales de Phytopathologie, 5(1):15-25

Fournet J, Hammerton JL, 1991. Weeds of the Lesser Antilles. Paris, France: Department d'Economie et Sociologie Rurales, Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique

Goly PG, TThT H, 1997. Effects of pineapple weeds on Pratylenchus brachyurus in C(te d'Ivoire. Cahiers Agricultures, 6(3):199-202; 17 ref

Hamilton K, 1997. PESKEM - USES - PESTS: The Australian Directory of Registered Pesticides and their Uses. 15th edition. Gatton, Queensland, Australia: University of Queensland

Hancock IR, Henderson CP, 1988. Flora of the Solomon Islands. Research Bulletin No. 7. Honiara, Solomon Islands: Dodo Creek Research Station

Hebert Y, 1985. Comparative resistance of 9 Solanum species to bacterial wilt (Pseudomonas solanacearum) and to the nematode Meloidogyne incognita. Importance for breeding aubergine (Solanum melongena L.) in a humid tropical zone. Agronomie, 5(1):27-32

Heine H, 1963. 151. Solanaceae. In: Hutchison J, Dalziel JM, Hepper FN, eds. Flora of West Tropical Africa, Volume 2. London, UK: Crown Agents, 325-335

Henty EE, Pritchard GH, 1975. Weeds of New Guinea and their Control. Lp, Papua New Guinea: Department of Forests, Division of Botany, Botany Bulletin No.7

Hnatiuk RJ, 1990. Census of Australian Vascular Plants. Australian Flora and Fauna Series Number 11. Canberra, Australia: Australian Government Publishing Service

Holm LG, Pancho JV, Herberger JP, Plucknett DL, 1991. A Geographic Atlas of World Weeds. Malabar, Florida, USA: Krieger Publishing Company

Isahaque NMM, Chaudhuri RP, 1985. A new alternate host plant of brinjal shoot and fruit borer Leucinodes orbonalis Guen. in Assam. Journal of Research, Assam Agricultural University, 4(1):83-85

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Jadari R, Sihachaakr D, Rossisgnol L, Decreux G, Rousselle Bourgeouis F, Rouselle P, 1992. Transfer or resistance to Verticillium dahliae from Solanum torvum Sw. into potato by protoplast electrofusion. Proceedings of the Joint Conference of the EAPR Breeding and Varietal Assessment Section and the EUCARPIA Potato Section, Landerneau, France, 1992. Ploudaniel, France: INRA, 97-98

Liquido NJ, Harris EJ, Dekker LA, 1994. Ecology of Bactrocera latifrons (Diptera: Tephritidae) populations: host plants, natural enemies, distribution, and abundance. Annals of the Entomological Society of America, 87(1):71-84

Lorenzi H, 1982. Weeds of Brazil, terrestrial and aquatic, parasitic, poisonous and medicinal. (Plantas daninhas de Brasil, terrestres, aquaticas, parasitas, toxicas e medicinais.) Nova Odessa, Brazil: H. Lorenzi, 425 pp

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Narikawa T, Sakata Y, Komochi S, Melor R, Heng CK, Jumali S, 1988. Collection of solanaceous plants in Malaysia and screening for disease resistance. JARQ, Japan Agricultural Research Quarterly, 22(2):101-106; 3 ref

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Shetty KD, Reddy DDR, 1985. Resistance in Solanum species to root-knot nematode Meloidogyne incognita. Indian Journal of Nematology, 15:230

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Space JC, Flynn T, 2002. Report to the Government of the Cook Islands on invasive plant species of environmental concern. Honolulu, USA: USAL USDA Forest Service, 146 pp

Symon DE, 1981. Solanum in Australia. Journal of the Adelaide Botanic Gardens, 4:115-116

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Waterhouse DF, 1997. The major invertebrate pests and weeds of agriculture and plantation forestry in the southern and western Pacific. Canberra, Australia: Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research. 93 pp. [ACIAR Monograph No. 44]

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Witt, A., Luke, Q., 2017. Guide to the naturalized and invasive plants of Eastern Africa, [ed. by Witt, A., Luke, Q.]. Wallingford, UK: + 601 pp. doi:10.1079/9781786392145.0000

Links to Websites

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GISD/IASPMR: Invasive Alien Species Pathway Management Resource and DAISIE European Invasive Alien Species Gateway source for updated system data added to species habitat list.
Global register of Introduced and Invasive species (GRIIS) source for updated system data added to species habitat list.

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