THE FORESTRY Corporation of NSW has joined forces with Bellingen Shire Council to declare war on the largest known infestation of Tropical Soda Apple (Solanum viarum) located within the Pine Creek State Forest.
Forestry and council staff and contractors inspected seven hectares of forest containing several infestations and took the appropriate action, including the removal and disposal of several kilograms of mature fruits.
A native of South America, the first Australian infestation was identified in 2010 in the Macleay Valley.
Subsequent surveys found infestations at Wingham, Grafton, Bellingen, Coffs Harbour, Bonalbo, Casino, Murwillumbah and Wauchope.
An aggressive, prickly perennial shrub that readily invades riparian and pasture areas, the pest plant spreads quickly and degrades land for agricultural, environmental and amenity use.
Its foliage is unpalatable to livestock, thus reducing carrying capacities.
Prickles on this plant restrict grazing by native animals and livestock, and thickets can create a physical barrier for animals preventing access to shade and water.
The plant is a host for many diseases and pests of cultivated crops and it contains solasodine which is poisonous to humans.
After the clearing operation in Pine Creek State Forest, a single plant found under the Thora Bridge was bagged and removed but is a reminder to all landholders to keep watch for an unwanted invasion.
Forestry Corporation of NSW supervisor Tom Newby said the eradication partnership with council in Pine Creek State Forest began after the highly invasive species was introduced to the hardwood plantation.
"Forestry Corporation worked with forest neighbours to re-establish the old fence lines to restrict any potential seed source," he said.
"We are carrying out joint inspections every three months and removing any new plants to ensure this class one noxious weed is eradicated from Bellingen Shire."
If you think you have seen this plant, contact Carmen Muldoon on 6655 7385.