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Lycopersicon - Mill.                
Common Name Tomato
Family Solanaceae
Synonyms L. lycopersicum.
Known Hazards All green parts of the plant are poisonous[19, 76].
Habitats Not known in a truly wild situation.
Range Original habitat is obscure, probably Western S. America, a cultivated form of L. cerasiforme[132].
Edibility Rating  
Medicinal Rating  
Half Hardy Moist Soil Full sun


Physical Characteristics       
 icon of manicon of flower
Lycopersicon is a ANNUAL growing to 2 m (6ft) by 0.4 m (1ft 4in).
It is hardy to zone (UK) 9 and is frost tender. It is in flower from Jun to September, and the seeds ripen from Aug to October. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Insects, self.The plant is self-fertile.

USDA hardiness zone : 8-11

Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers moist soil.

Lycopersicon Tomato

Lycopersicon Tomato
Edible Uses                                         
Fruit - raw or cooked[1, 2, 3, 37]. It can be used as a savoury vegetable or flavouring in cooked foods, or can be eaten out of hand as a dessert fruit. It is much used in salads and as a flavouring in soups and other cooked foods[183]. A juice made from the fruit is often sold in health food shops[183]. The fruit can also be dried and ground into a powder that can be used as a flavouring and thickening agent in soups, breads, pancakes etc[183]. An edible oil is obtained from the seed[46, 61, 171]. Suitable for culinary purposes[183]. The seed is small and it would be very fiddly to utilize. It is only viable to use the seed as a source of oil if large quantities of the plants are being grown for their fruits and the seed is not wanted.
Medicinal Uses
Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

The pulped fruit is an extremely beneficial skin-wash for people with oily skin. Sliced fruits are a quick and easy first aid treatment for burns, scalds and sunburn[201]. A decoction of the root is ingested in the treatment of toothache[218]. The skin of tomato fruits is a good source of lycopine, a substance that has been shown to protect people from heart attacks. It seems to be more effective when it is cooked and so can be obtained from food products such as tomato ketchup and tinned tomatoes[246]. Lycopine has also been shown to have a very beneficial effect upon the prostate and is being used increasingly to treat enlarge prostate and the difficulties in urination that accompany this disorder. A homeopathic remedy is made from the plant[7]. It is used in the treatment of rheumatism and severe headaches[7].
Other Uses
The strong aroma of this plant is said to repel insects from nearby plants[7, 18, 20]. A semi-drying oil is obtained from the seed. It can be used in making soap[46, 61, 171]. See the notes above regarding utilization. A spray made from tomato leaves is an effective but very poisonous insecticide[201]. It is especially effective against ants[7] but should be used with great caution because it will also kill beneficial insects and, if ingested, is toxic to humans[K]. The pulp of the fruit is used cosmetically in face-packs[7].
Cultivation details                                         
Requires a rich well-drained soil in a warm sunny position. The tomato is widely grown throughout the world for its edible fruit. There are many named varieties and over the considerable period of cultivation by humans two distinct types have emerged[183]. These are:- L. esculentum cerasiforme (Dunal.)A.Gray. This is the cherry tomato. Closer to the original species, it produces a large crop of small fruits with a delicious sweetness. L. esculentum esculentum. This is the more commonly grown tomato with much larger fruits. There are a very large number of cultivars with a wide variety of colours and fruit shapes and sizes. Tomato plants are not frost-tolerant and generally need to be started off in a greenhouse in the spring if they are to succeed outdoors in Britain. They also need a hot sunny summer if they are to fruit well. Some varieties have been developed that can be successfully grown outdoors during the summer in temperate climates such as Britain, although good summers are still required in order to get reasonable yields. Varieties have been developed in Eastern Europe that can flower and set fruit at 7°c (this is compared with a temperature requirement of 11 - 13°c in earlier varieties). These varieties could provide a basis for the commercial outdoor cultivation of tomatoes in Britain[141]. Tomatoes grow well with asparagus, parsley, brassicas and stinging nettles[18, 54]. They are also a good companion for gooseberries, helping to keep them free of insect pests[201]. They dislike growing near fennel, kohl-rabi, potatoes[18, 20] and brassicas[20] (this is not a typing error, merely a difference of opinion between different books). This species hybridizes with L. pimpinellifolium (which is called L. esculentum pimpinellifolium by some botanists) but it does not hybridize with L. peruvianum[114].
Seed - sow early spring in a warm greenhouse. Germination is usually quick and good. Pot up the seedlings into individual pots of fairly rich compost as soon as the first true leaf appears and plant them out after the last expected frosts. Seed can also be sown in situ under a cloche at the end of April, though in a cool summer the results may be disappointing. The seedcoat may carry tomato mosaic virus. However, by sowing the seed 15mm deep the seedcoat will remain below the soil surface when the seed germinates and the disease will be inactivated[124].
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Expert comment                                         
Botanical References                                         
Links / References                                         

  [K] Ken Fern Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.

[1]F. Chittendon. RHS Dictionary of Plants plus Supplement. 1956
Comprehensive listing of species and how to grow them. Somewhat outdated, it has been replaces in 1992 by a new dictionary (see [200]).
[2]Hedrick. U. P. Sturtevant's Edible Plants of the World.
Lots of entries, quite a lot of information in most entries and references.
[3]Simmons. A. E. Growing Unusual Fruit.
A very readable book with information on about 100 species that can be grown in Britain (some in greenhouses) and details on how to grow and use them.
[7]Chiej. R. Encyclopaedia of Medicinal Plants.
Covers plants growing in Europe. Also gives other interesting information on the plants. Good photographs.
[18]Philbrick H. and Gregg R. B. Companion Plants.
Details of beneficial and antagonistic relationships between neighbouring plants.
[20]Riotte. L. Companion Planting for Successful Gardening.
Fairly good.
[37]Thompson. B. The Gardener's Assistant.
Excellent general but extensive guide to gardening practices in the 19th century. A very good section on fruits and vegetables with many little known species.
[46]Uphof. J. C. Th. Dictionary of Economic Plants.
An excellent and very comprehensive guide but it only gives very short descriptions of the uses without any details of how to utilize the plants. Not for the casual reader.
[54]Hatfield. A. W. How to Enjoy your Weeds.
Interesting reading.
[61]Usher. G. A Dictionary of Plants Used by Man.
Forget the sexist title, this is one of the best books on the subject. Lists a very extensive range of useful plants from around the world with very brief details of the uses. Not for the casual reader.
[114]Chakravarty. H. L. The Plant Wealth of Iraq.
It is surprising how many of these plants can be grown in Britain. A very readable book on the useful plants of Iraq.
[124]RHS. The Garden. Volume 113.
Snippets of information from the magazine of the RHS, including details on Podophyllum, Canna and Protea species.
[141]Carruthers. S. P. (Editor) Alternative Enterprises for Agriculture in the UK.
Some suggested alternative commercial crops for Britain. Readable. Produced by a University study group.
[171]Hill. A. F. Economic Botany.
Not very comprehensive, but it is quite readable and goes into some a bit of detail about the plants it does cover.
[183]Facciola. S. Cornucopia - A Source Book of Edible Plants.
Excellent. Contains a very wide range of conventional and unconventional food plants (including tropical) and where they can be obtained (mainly N. American nurseries but also research institutes and a lot of other nurseries from around the world.
[201]Allardice.P. A - Z of Companion Planting.
A well produced and very readable book.
[218]Duke. J. A. and Ayensu. E. S. Medicinal Plants of China
Details of over 1,200 medicinal plants of China and brief details of their uses. Often includes an analysis, or at least a list of constituents. Heavy going if you are not into the subject.
[246]Radio 4 AM
A news item on the Radio 4 morning news programme 'AM', 15/10/97.

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Subject : Lycopersicon  

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