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Lycopersicon esculentum - Mill.

Common Name Tomato
Family Solanaceae
USDA hardiness 8-11
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    (4 of 5)
Other Uses    (0 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (3 of 5)
Half Hardy Moist Soil Full sun
Lycopersicon esculentum Tomato

Lycopersicon esculentum Tomato


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Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of flower
Lycopersicon esculentum 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 June to September, and the seeds ripen from August to October. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and is 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: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers moist soil.


L. lycopersicum.


 Cultivated Beds;

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Fruit;  Oil.
Edible Uses: 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]. 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.

Antirheumatic;  Cardiac;  Homeopathy;  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 a toothache[218]. The skin of tomato fruits is a good source of lycopene, 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]. Lycopene has also been shown to have a very beneficial effect upon the prostate and is being used increasingly to treat enlarged prostate and the difficulties in urination that accompany this disorder. A homoeopathic remedy is made from the plant[7]. It is used in the treatment of rheumatism and severe headaches[7].

Other Uses

Cosmetic;  Insecticide;  Oil;  Repellent.

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].


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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].

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

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 :

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Readers comment

   Thu Jun 5 15:31:06 2003

This site is an impressive and ambitious idea that seems to be well executed. thank you, I'm sure I'll return.

There is one thing that I've been looking for and you may want to include it since you're obviously working at being a thourough resource.

I'm new to gardenning and would like to know the plant time/harvest time for tomatoes in my hardiness zone (4a/4b). I can't seem to find the answer to this question anywhere.

A similar chart of information for all plants would definately be usefull on a large scale.

Thanks again and if I find myself frequenting this site I'll surely make a donation.

take care

Yvonne Schiebelhut   Sun Nov 28 21:15:04 2004

Your site was very informative but, I need help. I have a tomato plant producing fruit, it is the end of November and the tempature ranges from high 50's to lower 40's. I don't know what to do with all the green tomatos. Do you have a solution as to what I should do? Your help would be greatly appreciated. Thank you Yvonne Schiebelhut.

Bryan French   Fri Jul 13 2007

The benefits of lycopene in plants such as the Lycopersicon genus on prostate cancer and enlarged prostate are now in dispute. Researchers based at the National Cancer Institute and Cancer Research Center have reported that lycopene does not effectively prevent prostate cancer and may infact increase the risk of prostate cancer and other prostate related problems.

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