Large-flowered Kangaroo Apple

Solanum laciniatum Aiton

Synonyms - Often confused with S. aviculare.

Family: Solanaceae

Names:

Kangaroo apple.

Summary:

Large-flowered Kangaroo Apple (Solanum laciniatum) is a perennial hairless shrub to 3 m high. The leaves are 10-40 cm long, usually deeply dissected with up to 7 pointed lobes, although some remain unlobed. The trumpet shaped flowers are purple, in a long-stalked cluster, with each flower being 3-5 cm across with 5 notched petals. The conspicuous drooping sprays of berries are yellow to orange-yellow, succulent, egg-shaped and 10-18 mm across. The stems are hairless, often striped and round to polygonal with a ridge running down the stem from each leaf.
Native to eastern Australia, Large Flowered Kangaroo Apple is now a weed of rivers, creeklines and disturbed areas. It is quite common from Denmark to Cape Riche in WA and flowers in spring and summer.

Description:

See the Weedy Solanum Key.

Cotyledons:

Two.

Leaves:

Stipules - None. Emerging shoots in leaf axils may look like leafy stipules.
Petiole - 2-50 mm long x 1-4 mm wide. Round, ridged and grooved.
Blade - Leaves without lobes are narrowly egg shaped, 40-200 mm by 6-40 mm. Lobed leaves are 100-400 mm long x 60-250 mm wide and deeply divided usually into 7 lobes about 100 mm long. Surface hairless.

Stems:

Green to purple brown and often striped. Round to polygonal in cross section with a ridge running down the stem from the base of the petiole. Surface hairless and with no prickles.

Flower head:

Up to 10 flowers in a cyme that branches on one side and then the other. The flower head is on a stalk 5-40 mm long.

Flowers:

5 lobed, purple-blue, trumpet shaped flowers on stalks 5-40 mm long.
Ovary -
Sepals - 4-6 mm long, with 2-3 mm triangular lobes with pointed tips and papery edges. They enlarge slightly with the fruit.
Petals - Deep purple to blue. Wheel shaped, with 5 notched lobes flared at right angles to the short tube. 30-50 mm wide.
Stamens -
Anthers - Oblong. 3-5 mm long.

Fruit:

Yellow to orange egg shaped, succulent berry. 14-22 mm x 12-18 mm.

Seeds:

Reddish brown. 2-2.5 mm long.

Roots:

Taproot.

Key Characters:

Perennial hairless shrub to 3 m high.
Leaves are 10-40 cm long, usually deeply dissected with up to 7 pointed lobes, although some remain unlobed.
Deep purple to blue trumpet shaped flowers with 5 petals which are notched.
Yellow to orange egg shaped, succulent berry. 14-22 mm x 12-18 mm.

Biology:

Life cycle:

Perennial. Produces its first fruit and seed when 2 or more years old.

Physiology:

Reproduction:

Flowering times:

January to February.

Seed Biology and Germination:

Seed longevity in soil is long.

Vegetative Propagules:

Roots forms suckers and stems coppice especially when damaged.

Hybrids:

Population Dynamics and Dispersal:

Probably spread by birds and mammals. Birds eat succulent fruit.

Origin and History:

Introduced to Western Australia. Native to SA, Vic, Tas and New Zealand.

Distribution:

ACT, NSW, SA, TAS, VIC, WA.

Courtesy Australia's Virtual Herbarium.

Habitats:

Climate:

Mediterranean.

Soil:

Winter waterlogged sandy duplex and others.

Plant Associations:

Often occurs in plantations and other ungrazed areas frequented by birds.

Significance:

Beneficial:

Cultivated as a source of solasodine for corticosteroid drugs.
Ripe fruit was an aboriginal food in Tasmania.

Detrimental:

Weed of disturbed areas and gardens.

Toxicity:

Green fruits produce a burning sensation in the mouth and throat (Hurst, 1942). Suspected to be toxic in NSW. Cattle appear to be more susceptible than other stock. Contains solasonine. Green fruits are probably most toxic followed by green leaves then ripe fruits.

Symptoms:

Variable and may include unsteady walking, gastro-enteritis.

Treatment:

Legislation:

None

Management and Control:

Herbicides provide good control of plants.

Thresholds:

Eradication strategies:

Apply a mixture of 100 mL Access® in 6 L diesel to the lower 500 mm of trunk of trees. Young actively growing seedlings can be overall sprayed with 1 L/ha Starane® or hand sprayed with 20 mL Starane® in 10 L water in late spring. Seedlings and young plants can also be hand pulled. Control infestations within 5 km of the target area to reduce the spread of seed by birds. Plant perennial species which provide a good mulch on the soil. Grazing and mowing usually provide control. Kangaroo Apples tend to flourish in areas that have been recently fenced off and in new plantations.

Herbicide resistance:

None reported.

Biological Control:

Unlikely because it is a native plant.

Related plants:

See the Weedy Solanum Key.
Afghan Thistle (Solanum hoplopetalum)
Apple-of-Sodom (Solanum hermannii or Solanum linnaeanum)
Bittersweet (Solanum dulcamara)
Blackberry Nightshade (Solanum nigrum)
Brazilian Nightshade (Solanum seaforthianum)
Buffalo Burr (Solanum rostratum)
Desert Nightshade (Solanum oligacanthum)
Devils Apple (Solanum capsicoides)
Devils Fig (Solanum torvum)
Devils Needles (Solanum stelligerum)
Eggplant (Solanum melongena)
Flannel bush (Solanum lasiophyllum)
Giant Devils Fig (Solanum hispidum)
Glossy Nightshade (Solanum americanum)
Goosefoot Potato bush (Solanum chenopodinum)
Green-berry Nightshade (Solanum opacum)
Kangaroo Apple (Solanum aviculare)
Kangaroo Apple (Solanum laciniatum)
Kangaroo Apple (Solanum vescum)
Madeira Winter Cherry (Solanum pseudocapsicum)
Menindee Nightshade (Solanum karense)
Narrawa Burr (Solanum cinereum)
Oondooroo (Solanum simile)
Porcupine Solanum (Solanum hystrix)
Potato bush (Solanum ellipticum)
Potato climber (Solanum jasminoides)
Potato tree (Solanum erianthum)
Potato (Solanum tuberosum)
Quena (Solanum esuriale)
Rock Nightshade (Solanum petrophilum)
Silver-leaved Nightshade (Solanum elaeagnifolium)
Thargomindah Nightshade (Solanum sturtianum)
Three flowered Nightshade (Solanum triflorum)
Tomato bush (Solanum quadriloculatum)
Western Nightshade (Solanum coactiliferum)
White-edged Nightshade (Solanum marginatum)
Wild Tobacco tree (Solanum mauritianum)
Woolly Nightshade (Solanum villosum)
Solanum arbutiloides
Solanum centrale
Solanum chippendalei
Solanum dimidiatum
Solanum dioicum
Solanum oldfieldii
Solanum orbiculatum
Solanum papaverifolium
Solanum sisymbriifolium

Plants of similar appearance:

Solanum aviculare is a weed with pointed petals without lobes, an orange red berry and smaller seeds.
Solanum simile and Solanum symonii are native species which may be confused with the Kangaroo Apples. They are shrubs to 2 m high with entire to shallowly lobed leaves and stalked clusters of lilac to purple flowers, but their berries are green tinged with purple and sometimes becoming black with age.

References:

Everist, S.L. (1974). Poisonous Plants of Australia. (Angus and Robertson, Sydney). P655-656.

Gardner, G.A. and Bennetts, H.W. (1956). The toxic plants of Western Australia. (West Australian Newspapers Ltd, Perth). P165.

Hurst, E. (1942). The Poison Plants of New South Wales. (Poison Plants Committee N.S.W. Sydney, Australia.)

Lazarides, M. and Hince, B. (1993). CSIRO handbook of economic plants of Australia. (CSIRO, Melbourne). #1140.24.

Marchant, N.G., Wheeler, J.R., Rye, B.L., Bennett, E.M., Lander, N.S. and Macfarlane, T.D. (1987). Flora of the Perth Region. (Western Australian Herbarium, Department of Agriculture, Western Australia). P535.

Acknowledgments:

Collated by HerbiGuide. Phone 08 98444064 or www.herbiguide.com.au for more information.