Dense-thorned bitter apple

Dense-thorned bitter apple

Solanum sisymbriifolium

Common Name:

Dense-thorned bitter apple

Scientific Name:

Solanum sisymbriifolium

Alternative common names:

Wild tomato, sticky nightshade, fire-and-ice plant (English); wildetamatie, tamatiedissel, digdoringbitterappel (Afrikaans)


A very spiny low shrub with many branches up to 1,5m high covered with sticky, glandular hairs and bright orange-red to brown-yellow spines up to 20mm long. It has an extensive root system. The leaves are dull green, hairy, deeply lobed and toothed and have prominent spines on the midrib and veins. White, cream or bluish flowers appear all year. The fruits are shiny green berries turning bright red. The unripe fruit is poisonous.

Additional Information

Where does this species come from?

Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay in South America

What is its invasive status in South Africa?

Existing legislation: CARA 2002 - Category 1 NEMBA - Category 1b

Where in South Africa is it a problem?

Western and Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga, Gauteng and Limpopo Provinces

How does it spread?

Seed dispersal.

Why is it a problem?

Competes with crop plants and indigenous pioneering species. Poisonous.

What does it look like?

General description: A distinctly thorny shrub growing up to 1,5m in height and covered with sticky, glandular hairs.
Leaves: Leaves are dull green, hairy, deeply lobed and toothed and covered in sharp thorns.
Flowers: White, cream or bluish flowers all year.
Fruit/seeds: Fruits shiny berries, green turning bright red.

Does the plant have any uses?

Birds eat the fruits.

Leave a Reply