Litchi Tomato Pictures

jeroldrburrow(SoCal 10a)May 18, 2011

Here are some pictures of a Litchi tomato plant I have growing in a SWC. I was surprised to see the flowers were rather large at about 1.5 inches across. Also, those thorns are no joke -- I can't imagine having to tend to an entire row of these.

Anyone else growing these? How did they taste?

You can view the rest of the garden pictures via the link below.

Here is a link that might be useful: Garden - May 2011

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wertach zone 7-B SC

Is that really a tomato???? Looks scary to me!

    Bookmark   May 18, 2011 at 2:32PM
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I don't know if I could eat a tomato that could eat me!

    Bookmark   May 18, 2011 at 2:55PM
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OMG that thing looks mean!

    Bookmark   May 18, 2011 at 3:06PM
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I've never seen anything like this! Might try finding an expert in your area and see what they say. I would like to ask you how you post your photos - If you have time. Thanks!

    Bookmark   May 18, 2011 at 3:08PM
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I did some Googling as I'm always interested in finding Unusual, rare, no longer popular edible plants like this.

I found people describe the taste as

The flavor is hard to describe, and varies, depending upon the weather at time of harvest. To me, the berries taste like a mix of cherry & gooseberry. The skin is very thin & tender. They are fairly seedy though


The fruit is very tasty. It does have a tomato-y taste, in a way, but I thought it tasted mostly cherry-like. I feel it's the best-tasting of the solanum-family "cherries" but that's a matter of opinion. (I also like ground cherries really well.) The fruit is rather seedy, though. Definitely woth growing, unless the garden is very small. I plan to grow some again this year.

Thanks for sharing !! I want to try it now. I think I'll plant it outside the window of my 15 year old Sister inlaws room :)

    Bookmark   May 18, 2011 at 3:21PM
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It looks like cross pollination of eggplant and tomato. Thorns and the flowers resemble eggplant and the leaves and flower buds resemble tomato!!

Could be some wild tomato. Interesting to see and taste the fruit.
Please keep us updated.


    Bookmark   May 18, 2011 at 3:58PM
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jeroldrburrow(SoCal 10a)

I'll be sure to post back if/when the plant sets fruit. I purchased my seeds from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds in case anyone is interested.

Trill, I use Picasa to upload my pictures to my Google account. From my Google account, I can copy the HTML code to display the pictures straight into my GardenWeb post.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2011 at 4:52PM
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I saw this in the catalog last winter and wanted to order it but had enough curiosities to keep me busy this season. Maybe next year. It sure sounds interesting, but looks positively nasty with those thorns. Can you imagine if it were to escape and become an invasive species?

To read more information about this interesting plant from South America then click here.

Nice, healthy plant btw.


    Bookmark   May 18, 2011 at 6:19PM
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dan_staley(5b/SS 2b AHS 6-7)

I saw that in the catalogue too. Looks like a good burglar deterrent that provides food!


    Bookmark   May 18, 2011 at 7:05PM
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Your right! the thorns are no joke. the fruit is very sweet, with a slight tomato flavor. fruit is prone to cracking, so back off on the water when the husks start to open. the fruit will pull away from the husk easy when ripe.
I couldn't discern any Cherry type flavor, but perhaps that is due to location...Oh, BTW, these plants get huge!

    Bookmark   May 18, 2011 at 7:22PM
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I really like the flavor of the ripe fruit. It's most similar to the sweeter types of cherry tomatoes (think Sungold), bt it has hints of sour cherry and watermelon. I have found that the flavor improves and gets more fruity later in the season, as a result of the cooler weather I believe.

Yes, the plants are very vicious. I'm going to plant some in my side yard this year where the municipality installed a pedestrian pathway. That hopefully will help keep out the people who feel that a path is just a license to venture even further into my yard.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2011 at 8:10PM
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My local Whole Foods had seedlings of those. With young children, lifelong clumsiness and a very crowded garden, a big plant with that many thorns didn't seem like a smart idea for my garden, so I skipped it. It's certainly intriguing, though!

    Bookmark   May 18, 2011 at 8:51PM
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Hhhmmmm maybe that would keep the cats out of my garden, and people out of our yard!

    Bookmark   May 18, 2011 at 9:27PM
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You will find these commonly mentioned as rootstock for grafted tomatoes.


    Bookmark   May 18, 2011 at 10:01PM
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girlgroupgirl(8 ATL)

A few years ago a friend planted the garden of good and evil, she still has it. I need to see if our Whole Foods is selling these, they would be perfect! Half her small front yard is either incredibly spikey, thorny plants or carniverous plants, the other half is happy flowery soft things.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2011 at 11:04PM
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I have some seedlings of these. Decided to try them this year. They are ready to go into the garden. Yikes! I forgot about the thorns! I'm anxious to try the flavor of these things. The pix were great!

    Bookmark   May 19, 2011 at 12:45PM
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I sware I had couple seedlings grow out of some of my seeds and one of them turned into a monster looking like this one. when it was 6 inches, I got suspicious and destroyed it thinking it was wild weed or something.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2011 at 6:04PM
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A plant with protection like that,the fruit has to taste good.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2011 at 9:59AM
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missingtheobvious(Blue Ridge 7a)

No one would ever doubt this is related to Carolina horse nettle ... which unfortunately grows every few feet in my back 1.2 acres....

    Bookmark   August 15, 2011 at 10:39AM
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zeedman Zone 5 Wisconsin

Really nice photos, JB.

"Can you imagine if it were to escape and become an invasive species?"

It volunteers heavily in my Wisconsin garden, so that is a possibility. But to be invasive, something would have to spread the seed... and I haven't seen any birds willing to brave the thorns. The seeds are larger than those of ground cherry, though, and I've caught myself spitting a few out - so people might spread them. ;-)

This is probably the only Solanum that I would categorize as a bee plant. The large blossoms are borne heavily until frost... and the plants usually survive the first few frosts. Ditto on Denninmi's comment on flavor, it seems to be at its best in the cooler days of late summer. I've noticed some taste variation between plants, so selective breeding might be able to improve the flavor. Baker Creek did request some seed from me several years ago, so the genetics of my stock might be at least partially represented in their seed (I think they used several sources).

Oh, and you probably don't want to grow this if you grow potatoes... it seems to attract Colorado potato beetle. In my garden, it has proven to be a good trap crop for that purpose, it keeps the beetles away from my eggplant.

The species name, for any who might be interested in looking up more info, is Solanum sisymbriifolium. Here's a photo of the fruit:

In my garden, wasps often feed on the cracked fruit in late summer... as if the thorns weren't enough!

    Bookmark   August 16, 2011 at 2:11AM
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