We have recently published ‘Food Forest Plants for Hotter Conditions’: i.e. tropical and sub-tropical regions. We rely on regular donations to keep our free database going and help fund development of this and another book we are planning on food forest plants for Mediterranean climates. Please give what you can to keep PFAF properly funded. More >>>

Follow Us:


Solanum lycopersicum - L.

Common Name Tomato, Garden Tomato
Family Solanaceae
USDA hardiness 10-12
Known Hazards All green parts of the plant are poisonous[19 , 76 ]. Although providing many well-known foods for people, including the potato, tomato, pepper and aubergine, most plants in the family Solanaceae also contain poisonous alkaloids. Unless there are specific entries with information on edible uses, it would be unwise to ingest any part of this plant[K ].
Habitats Not known in a truly wild situation.
Range Original habitat is obscure, probably Western S. America[132 ].
Edibility Rating    (5 of 5)
Other Uses    (3 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (3 of 5)
Care (info)
Tender Moist Soil Full sun
Solanum lycopersicum Tomato, Garden Tomato

Solanum lycopersicum Tomato, Garden Tomato


Translate this page:


Solanum lycopersicum, Tomato, is a species belonging to the Solanaceae family that originated in Central and South America and now grown worldwide for its edible fruits. It is perennial in its native habitat but grown as an annual in temperate climates, usually growing about 3 m in height. It is covered with fine short hairs. The leaves are compound, odd pinnate, with five to nine leaflets on petioles. The flowers are yellow in cyme inflorescence. The fruits are classified as berries. Tomato fruits can be used for first aid treatment for burns, scalds, and sunburn. Root decoction is ingested for relief from tooth pain. Tomatoes are rich in lycopene, a substance with beneficial effects on the heart and prostate. It is also used for rheumatism and headaches.Tomato fruits are consumed in many various ways and forms, either raw or cooked. It can also be made into juice, or dried and ground into a powder. The seeds yield edible oil. The oil can also be used in making soap. Tomato leaves can be made into a spray as an effective insecticide.

Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of flower
Solanum lycopersicum is a ANNUAL growing to 2 m (6ft) by 1.5 m (5ft) at a fast rate.
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 10. The flowers are pollinated by Insects. The plant is self-fertile.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: mildly acid and neutral soils and can grow in very acid soils.
It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers moist soil.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Lycopersicon cerasiforme Dunal Lycopersicon esculentum Mill. Lycopersicon humboldtii (Willd.) Dunal

Plant Habitats

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Fruit  Oil  Seed
Edible Uses: Drink  Oil

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 ]. It can be used raw in salads, or used to make margarine[418 ]. 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.

References   More on Edible Uses

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.
Antirheumatic  Leprosy  Odontalgic  Skin

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. The leaves, in a mixture with castor oil (Ricinus communis), is used in the treatment of incipient leprosy spots[348 ]. A paste of the leaves is applied to filarial worm swellings on a painful groin[348 ]. A homeopathic remedy is made from the plant[7 ]. It is used in the treatment of rheumatism and severe headaches[7 ].

References   More on Medicinal Uses

The Bookshop: Edible Plant Books

Our Latest books on Perennial Plants For Food Forests and Permaculture Gardens in paperback or digital formats.

Food Forest Plants for Hotter Conditions: 250+ Plants For Tropical Food Forests & Permaculture Gardens.
Edible Tropical Plants

Food Forest Plants for Hotter Conditions: 250+ Plants For Tropical Food Forests & Permaculture Gardens.

Plants for Your Food Forest: 500 Plants for Temperate Food Forests & Permaculture Gardens.
Edible Temperate Plants

Plants for Your Food Forest: 500 Plants for Temperate Food Forests & Permaculture Gardens.

PFAF have eight books available in paperback and digital media.
More Books

PFAF have eight books available in paperback and digital formats. Browse the shop for more information.

Shop Now

Other Uses

Companion  Cosmetic  Insecticide  Oil  Repellent  Soap making  Teeth

Agroforestry Uses: 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). 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 ].

Special Uses

Food Forest

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

A plant of the tropics, it is also widely cultivated in the subtropics and temperate zone (where it is often grown under protection). In the tropics it can be grown at elevations from sea level up to 2,000 metres, but generally fruits better above 1,000 metres[418 ]. It grows best in areas where annual daytime temperatures are within the range 20 - 27°c, but can tolerate 7 - 35°c[418 ]. It prefers a diurnal temperature variation of at least 5 - 6°c[300 ]. The plant cannot tolerate frosts[K ]. It prefers a mean annual rainfall in the range 600 - 1,300mm, but tolerates 400 - 1,800mm[418 ]. High rainfall and high relative humidity adversely affect growth[300 ]. Requires a fertile, humus-rich, well-drained soil in a warm sunny position[300 ]. Slightly acid conditions, with a pH in the range 5.8 - 6.8, are preferred, though the plant can tolerate 5 - 7.5[300 , 418 ]. Yields of ripe fruit from upright forms of the plant can commence 2 - 3 months after sowing the seed; other forms might take 4 - 5 months[300 , 418 ]. Yields of 15 tonnes per hectare can be obtained[300 ]. Yields are mainly between 20 - 40 tonnes per hectare, but yields up to 150 tonnes have been recorded[418 ]. 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. This species hybridizes with the currant tomato (S. Pimpinellifolium), but does not hybridize with the wild tomato (S. Peruvianum)[114 ].

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

Temperature Converter

Type a value in the Celsius field to convert the value to Fahrenheit:



The PFAF Bookshop

Plants For A Future have a number of books available in paperback and digital form. Book titles include Edible Plants, Edible Perennials, Edible Trees,Edible Shrubs, Woodland Gardening, and Temperate Food Forest Plants. Our new book is Food Forest Plants For Hotter Conditions (Tropical and Sub-Tropical).

Shop Now

Plant Propagation

Seed - sow in containers or in a seedbed. Germination is usually quick and good. Plant out into permanent positions when about 8 - 10cm tall[300 ]. Seed can also be sown in situ. 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 ].

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

dumádu, garden tomato, love apple, lycopersicum esculentum, tomate, tomato, tomato extract containing lycopene, tomato|thakkali, tumatis.

Africa, Central Africa, Congo, Haiti.

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status : This taxon has not yet been assessed

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther
Solanum aethiopicumMock Tomato, Ethiopian nightshadeShrub2.5 10-12  LMHNM322
Solanum ajanhuiriAjanhuiriPerennial0.0 9-11  LMHSNM20 
Solanum americanumAmerican Nightshade, American black nightshadeAnnual1.0 0-0  LMHNM100
Solanum andigenumAndigenaPerennial0.0 -  LMHNM20 
Solanum aviculareKangaroo Apple, New Zealand nightshadeShrub1.8 8-11  LMHNM222
Solanum boreale Perennial0.0 -  LMHNM10 
Solanum boyacense Perennial0.0 -  LMHNM10 
Solanum cari Perennial0.0 -  LMHSNM10 
Solanum carolinenseHorse Nettle, Carolina horsenettlePerennial1.0 3-7  LMHSNM021
Solanum chauchaChauchaPerennial0.0 -  LMHSNM10 
Solanum curtilobumRuckiPerennial0.0 -  LMHSNM20 
Solanum dulcamaraBittersweet. Bittersweet Nightshade, Climbing nightshade, Bittersweet, Deadly Nightshade, PoisonousPerennial Climber2.5 4-8 MLMHSNM030
Solanum fendleriWild Potato, Fendler's horsenettle, Texan horsenettlePerennial0.0 0-0  LMHNM32 
Solanum jamesiiColorado Wild Potato, Wild potatoPerennial0.2 8-11  LMHNM20 
Solanum juzepczukiiRuckiPerennial0.0 -  LMHSNM20 
Solanum kurzii Perennial0.0 -  LMHSNM10 
Solanum laciniatumKangaroo AppleShrub3.0 8-11  LMHNM222
Solanum linearifoliumMountain Kangaroo AppleShrub0.0 -  LMHNM20 
Solanum liximitante Perennial0.0 -  LMHSNM10 
Solanum luteum Annual0.0 -  LMHSNM10 
Solanum lyratum Perennial Climber2.0 -  LMHNM12 
Solanum maglia Perennial0.0 -  LMHNM20 
Solanum melongenaAubergine, EggplantPerennial1.0 8-11  LMHNM32 
Solanum muricatumPepinoShrub1.0 8-11  LMHNM400
Solanum nigrumBlack Nightshade, Common Nightshade, Poisonberry, Black NightshadeAnnual0.6 0-0  LMHNDM222
Solanum paniculatumJurubeba, NightshadeShrub2.0 10-12 FLMHSNM040
Solanum phurejaPhureja, NightshadePerennial0.0 8-11  LMHSNM30 
Solanum piliferum Perennial0.0 -  LMHNM20 
Solanum pimpinellifoliumCurrant TomatoAnnual/Biennial1.0 10-12 FLMHNM422

Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.


Expert comment



Botanical References

Links / References

For a list of references used on this page please go here
A special thanks to Ken Fern for some of the information used on this page.

Readers comment

Add a comment

If you have important information about this plant that may help other users please add a comment or link below. Only comments or links that are felt to be directly relevant to a plant will be included. If you think a comment/link or information contained on this page is inaccurate or misleading we would welcome your feedback at [email protected]. If you have questions about a plant please use the Forum on this website as we do not have the resources to answer questions ourselves.

* Please note: the comments by website users are not necessarily those held by PFAF and may give misleading or inaccurate information.

To leave a comment please Register or login here All comments need to be approved so will not appear immediately.

Subject : Solanum lycopersicum  
© 2010, Plants For A Future. Plants For A Future is a charitable company limited by guarantee, registered in England and Wales. Charity No. 1057719, Company No. 3204567.