Solanum lycopersicum: Tomato

Family: Solanaceae
Common name: Tomato

Tomato is technically a fruit, but for all practical purposes, it’s considered a vegetable. It’s a vegetable that a kitchen cannot do without; and a plant that a kitchen garden cannot do without.

The plants are usually annual, growing to a height of 2-3 meters, and dying away after a bountiful crop of rich, red, plumpy deliciousness. The stem of the tomato plant is usually weak and needs support especially after fruiting. Some varieties like cherry tomatoes have stems that spread along the soil, and the plant does not need support.

The stems of tomato plants are covered with tiny hairs, and they are capable of rooting here the stem nodes touch the soil. The leaves are about 15-25 cms long with 5-9 leaflets.

The common varieties of tomatoes are cherry tomatoes, grape tomatoes and plum tomatoes, although there are more hybrid varieties with differences in taste and in shape. Size of the tomatoes vary from 1-10 cms diameter depending on the the species and the variant.

China is the largest producer of tomatoes, followed by India and US. Tomatoes are used in pizza and pasta sauces, salads, juices, jams, jellies, desserts and curries. Most Indian dishes are incomplete without tomatoes in the form of purees or slices.

Propagation can be from seeds or from small shoots that grow on the sides of the plant.

Photo Courtesy: love4gardening