Pond apple (Annona glabra)

PROHIBITED MATTER: If you see this plant report it to the NSW Invasive Plants & Animals Enquiry Line 1800 680 244

Profile

Impact

Pond apple is a very hardy, semi-deciduous woody tree that can form extremely dense thickets maturing into dark forests. This aggressive invader usually grows to a height of between 3 and 6 m but can grow as tall as 15 m.

Pond apple was introduced to Australia as a salt- and water-tolerant grafting stock for the closely related, commercially produced, custard apple (Annona reticulata). It is still used as a rootstock for custard apple in northern Queensland.

The commercial impact of this environmental weed is increasing as it is spreading into creeks, along fence lines, farm drains and dams on sugar cane and cattle enterprises. Pond apple is regarded as one of the worst weeds in Australia because of its invasiveness, potential for spread, and economic and environmental impacts.

Distribution

Pond apple is a native of North, Central and South America and West Africa and thrives in areas that are moist and sunlit. It is found in a wide range of disturbed and undisturbed wetlands and rainforests, including streams, riverbanks, wetlands, sedgelands, mangrove communities and high tide zones on beaches. It is not prevalent in areas that are permanently flooded or too shady.

In Australia, the areas at immediate risk from pond apple are the estuaries and floodplains of north-eastern Cape York. It has spread through much of the wet tropics in northern Queensland (mostly between Ingham and Cooktown but also south to Mackay and north to some of the Torres Strait islands). It also has the potential to invade the Top End of the Northern Territory and the thin coastal strip from the tip of Cape York to Bundaberg in Queensland. There are currently no known infestations in New South Wales (NSW).

Spread

Pond apple produces extremely large quantities of seed. The seeds are spread by water and animals. Both the fruit and seed float in water and the seeds can remain viable for some time in fresh, brackish or sea water. When the fruits are eaten by animals, the seeds can be dispersed long distances e.g. 1–2 km by cassowaries and as far as 10 km by feral pigs. Disturbances (natural e.g. canopy gaps created by storms or cyclones; or human-made e.g. land reclamation activities that reduce native vegetation) can enable pond apple to germinate and invade.

Description

Pond apple can be confused with native mangroves as superficially they look similar and are often found growing together. Pond apple plants are usually single-stemmed with grey bark. When seedlings germinate together, they can form multiple-stemmed plants that can fuse together and appear single-stemmed.

Key identification features

  • Leaves (7–12 cm) are alternate with a prominent midrib. The upper surface is light- to dark green, depending on age. The underside of the leaf is paler.
  • Flowers are small, creamy white to light yellow (2–3 cm in diameter) and not easily seen on the tree. There are three leathery outer petals and three smaller inner petals with a red inner base.
  • Fruit (5–15 cm diameter) is edible and smooth-skinned (similar in shape to a custard apple).
  • Seeds look similar to pumpkin seeds, and each fruit contains approximately 140 seeds.

Habitat

Pond apple can grow in the same environments as native mangroves due to its ability to tolerate flooded areas and salt water.

Acknowledgements

Adapted by AnDi Communications from the CRC for Australian Weed Management Weed Management Guide: Pond apple.

Reviewed by Rod Ensbey. Edited by Elissa van Oousterhout, Birgitte Verbeek.

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Control

Your local council weeds officer will assist with identification, control information and removal and eradication of pond apple. Infestations can be spread by inappropriate control activities.

Herbicide options

Contact your local council weeds officer for control advice for Pond apple (Annona glabra).

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Biosecurity duty

The content provided here is for information purposes only and is taken from the Biosecurity Act 2015 and its subordinate legislation, and the Regional Strategic Weed Management Plans (published by each Local Land Services region in NSW). It describes the state and regional priorities for weeds in New South Wales, Australia.

Area Duty
All of NSW General Biosecurity Duty
All plants are regulated with a general biosecurity duty to prevent, eliminate or minimise any biosecurity risk they may pose. Any person who deals with any plant, who knows (or ought to know) of any biosecurity risk, has a duty to ensure the risk is prevented, eliminated or minimised, so far as is reasonably practicable.
All of NSW Prohibited Matter
A person who deals with prohibited matter or a carrier of prohibited matter is guilty of an offence. A person who becomes aware of or suspects the presence of prohibited matter must immediately notify the Department of Primary Industries

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For technical advice and assistance with identification please contact your local council weeds officer.
For further information call the NSW Invasive Plants and Animals Enquiry Line on 1800 680 244 or send an email to weeds@dpi.nsw.gov.au

Reviewed 2017