Pond apple (Annona glabra)

PROHIBITED MATTER: If you see this plant report it. Call the NSW DPI Biosecurity Helpline 1800 680 244

Pond apple is a hardy tree with yellow-green fruit that can grow in areas that flood with fresh and salty water. It forms very dense thickets affecting native plants and movement of animals and vehicles.

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How does this weed affect you?

Pond apple is an agricultural and environmental weed that:

  • forms very dense thickets that restrict movement of animals, people and vehicles 
  • shades and outcompetes other plants
  • invades rainforests, riparian zones, freshwater wetlands and mangrove swamps
  • reduces habitat and food for native animals
  • can invade crops like sugarcane, block farm drains and damage fences. 

What does it look like?

Pond apple is a semi-deciduous tree. Leaves on mature trees sometimes turn yellow and fall off in the dry season. Most plants are 3–6 m tall, but they can grow up to 15 m. Pond apple usually have a single trunk with grey bark. Sometimes multiple stems will emerge and fuse to form a single tree trunk. Older plants may have swollen trunks at the base with buttressed roots. 

Leaves are:

  • 7–12 cm long and up to 6 cm wide
  • light to dark green on top with a prominent midrib
  • paler underneath
  • oval but tapered at the base and pointed at the tip
  • alternate on the stem.

Flowers are:

  • creamy white to light yellow, with a bright red centre
  • 2–6 cm in diameter
  • leathery with 3 triangular outer petals enclosing 3 smaller inner petals 
  • short-lived and are not easily seen on the tree
  • present in summer.

Fruit are:

  • 5–15 cm in diameter
  • green, ripening to yellow, then turning black
  • like a smooth-skinned custard apple 
  • full of seeds (100-200 per fruit) and orangey-pink pulp.

Seeds are:

  • light brown
  • 1.5 cm long and 1 cm wide 
  • like pumpkin seeds.

Similar looking plants

Pond apple looks like some native mangrove species because they have similar leaves and trunks and can grow in the same habitat. The most similar native mangrove species is the grey mangrove (Avicennia marina). You can tell them apart using the following features:

  • Pond apple has alternately arranged leaves, cream and red flowers with six petals and very large, rounded fruit (5-15 cm wide)
  • Grey mangrove has oppositely arranged leaves, yellow-orange flowers with four petals and small fruit (2-3 cm wide).

Where is it found?

There are currently no known infestations of pond apple in New South Wales. In 2013, pond apple was found in a fruit garden on the North Coast but the plants were removed.

Pond apple grows in the wet tropics in northern Queensland and has also been found on the Sunshine Coast and in parts of the Northern Territory. It was introduced to Australia as a salt and water-tolerant rootstock for custard apple (Annona reticulata).

Pond apple is native to North, Central and South America and West Africa. 

What type of environment does it grow in?

Pond apple grows in tropical and subtropical climates and prefers moist areas in full sun.  It tolerates being flooded in either fresh or salt water for weeks but grows poorly in permanently flooded areas. It does not grow well in very shady or very sandy areas. In agricultural areas it grows along fence lines and in farm drains.

It can grow in many natural environments including:

  • in wetlands and sedgelands
  • in rainforests, especially along the edges
  • along streams and riverbanks
  • alongside mangroves
  • in the high tide zones of beaches. 

Maps and records

  • Recorded presence of Pond apple during property inspections (Map: Biosecurity Information System - Weeds, 2017-2022)
    These records are made by authorised officers during property inspections under the Biosecurity Act 2015. Officers record the presence of priority weeds in their council area and provide this to the NSW Department of Primary Industries. Records reflect the presence of the weed on the date of inspection.

How does it spread?

By seed

Pond apples produce extremely large quantities of fruit and seeds. Up to 20 million seeds per hectare have been recorded. Fruit fall from the tree when they are ripe. Seeds on the soil surface or just below are highly viable and most sprout within the first 3 months. Less than 3% of seeds remain in the seedbank after 12 months. If fruiting trees are removed there would be no viable seeds left in the soil after 3 years.  

Much of the fruit falls into waterways. Both the fruit and seeds can float and most seeds are spread to new sites by flowing water. Flood water and ocean currents can carry seeds long distances. Fruit usually sinks within a few weeks but the seeds can float for over a year. Over a third of seeds are still viable after 12 months of floating in either fresh or saltwater.

Many native and feral animals eat the fleshy fruit. However, only larger animals such as pigs and wallabies can spread the seeds though their dung. Pigs can spread the seeds up to 10 kilometres. Flying foxes have been seen carrying whole fruit.

Storm damage or tree clearing can create gaps in dense tree canopy that can allow pond apple seedlings to grow and invade these open areas preventing native species from recolonising.

References

Agriculture & Resource Management Council of Australia & New Zealand, Australian & New Zealand Environment & Conservation Council and Forestry Ministers. (2001). Weeds of National Significance Pond Apple (Annona glabra) Strategic Plan. National Weeds Strategy Executive Committee, Launceston.

Setter, S. D., Setter, M. J., & Campbell, S. D. (2004). Longevity of pond apple (Annona glabra L.) seeds and implications for management. In Fourteenth Australian Weeds Conference, 551-554.

Setter, S. D., Setter, M. J., Graham, M. F., & Vitelli, J. S. (2008). Buoyancy and germination of pond apple (Annona glabra L.) propagules in fresh and salt water. Weed Management, 140-142.

Setter, S. D., & Patane, K. A. (2011). Dispersal of pond apple (Annona glabra) by rodents, agile wallabies and flying foxes. In 23rd Asian-Pacific Weed Science Society Conference (p. 487).

Vitelli, J., & Madigan, B. (2011). Evaluating the efficacy of the EZ-Ject herbicide system in Queensland, Australia. The Rangeland Journal, 33(3), 299-305.

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Control

Please do not attempt to treat or dispose of this weed yourself. Report this plant if you see it anywhere in NSW by calling the helpline listed at the top of this page immediately.

NSW DPI will lead an initial response for the treatment and disposal of the plant to stop it from spreading.

Herbicide options

WARNING - ALWAYS READ THE LABEL
Users of agricultural or veterinary chemical products must always read the label and any permit, before using the product, and strictly comply with the directions on the label and the conditions of any permit. Users are not absolved from compliance with the directions on the label or the conditions of the permit by reason of any statement made or not made in this information. To view permits or product labels go to the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority website www.apvma.gov.au

See Using herbicides for more information.


PERMIT 9907 Expires 31/03/2025
Fluroxypyr 200 g/L (Comet® 200 herbicide)
Rate: 500 mL to 1 L per 100 L water
Comments: Spot spray. Do not treat plants growing in a body of water.
Withholding period: Do not graze failed crops and treated pastures or cut for stock feed for 7 days after application. See label for further information.
Herbicide group: I, Disruptors of plant cell growth (synthetic auxins)
Resistance risk: Moderate


PERMIT 9907 Expires 31/03/2025
Fluroxypyr 333 g/L (Staraneā„¢ Advanced)
Rate: 300 to 600 mL per 100 L water
Comments: Spot spray. Do not treat plants growing in a body of water.
Withholding period: Do not graze failed crops and treated pastures or cut for stock food for 7 days after application. See label for more information.
Herbicide group: I, Disruptors of plant cell growth (synthetic auxins)
Resistance risk: Moderate


PERMIT 9907 Expires 31/03/2025
Glyphosate 360 g/L (Various products)
Rate: One part product to 50 parts water
Comments: Spot spray
Withholding period: Nil.
Herbicide group: M, Inhibitors of EPSP synthase
Resistance risk: Moderate


PERMIT 9907 Expires 31/03/2025
Glyphosate 360 g/L (Various products)
Rate: One part product to 1.5 parts water
Comments: Cut scrape and paint
Withholding period: Nil.
Herbicide group: M, Inhibitors of EPSP synthase
Resistance risk: Moderate


PERMIT 9907 Expires 31/03/2025
Glyphosate 360 g/L (Various products)
Rate: One part product to 9 parts water
Comments: Splatter gun
Withholding period: Nil.
Herbicide group: M, Inhibitors of EPSP synthase
Resistance risk: Moderate


PERMIT 9907 Expires 31/03/2025
Glyphosate 360 g/L (Various products)
Rate: One part product to 20 parts water
Comments: Wipe onto leaves. Do not treat plants growing in a body of water.
Withholding period: Nil.
Herbicide group: M, Inhibitors of EPSP synthase
Resistance risk: Moderate


PERMIT 9907 Expires 31/03/2025
Metsulfuron-methyl 600 g/kg (Various products)
Rate: 10 - 20 g per 100 L water plus surfactant
Comments: Spot spray. Do not treat plants growing in a body of water.
Withholding period: Nil (recommended not to graze for 7 days before treatment and for 7 days after treatment to allow adequate chemical uptake in target weeds).
Herbicide group: B, Inhibitors of acetolactate synthase (ALS inhibitors)
Resistance risk: High


PERMIT 9907 Expires 31/03/2025
Metsulfuron-methyl 600 g/kg (Various products)
Rate: 10 g per 1 L of water plus surfactant
Comments: Wipe onto leaves
Withholding period: Nil (recommended not to graze for 7 days before treatment and for 7 days after treatment to allow adequate chemical uptake in target weeds).
Herbicide group: B, Inhibitors of acetolactate synthase (ALS inhibitors)
Resistance risk: High


Fluroxypyr 333 g/L (Staraneā„¢ Advanced)
Rate: 900 mL per 100 L of diesel
Comments: Basal bark: Plants up to 20 cm basal diameter. Do not treat plants growing in a body of water.
Withholding period: Do not graze failed crops and treated pastures or cut for stock food for 7 days after application. See label for more information.
Herbicide group: I, Disruptors of plant cell growth (synthetic auxins)
Resistance risk: Moderate


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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 DPI Biosecurity Helpline on 1800 680 244 or send an email to weeds@dpi.nsw.gov.au

Reviewed 2020