Monday, December 13, 2010

Tree Tomato

Picture from Logee's Tropical Plants
 Angela did the research to come up with the scientific name for that New Zealand tropical "Tree Tomato" that I've been growing for about 15 years now, and that folks asked about at the Christmas Party.  It's a Cyphomandra crassicaulis and it does belong to the same family of plants as the tomato, Solanacea.  It's also not native to New Zealand, as I thought, but Peru.  Another common name for the fruit is tamarillo.

More information here and here.  

The taste of the fruit is said to be tomato-like.  I don't agree - it's more tropical, and not to my liking, for some reason I find hard to pinpoint.  I do use it as a garnish, though, and I like the large leaves and conversational aspects of growing it.  It does take a lot of water during the summer.

If others are interested, I'll save some seeds and try to propagate it.


  1. I've never heard of it and am tempted... Is the taste anything like Husk Cherrys?

    And, random question but, do you know anyone around here who's sucessfully growing a banana tree?

  2. Hmm. Not like husk cherries - more like a bitterish (rather than tart, or acidic) guava, or pomegranate. Some sweetness detected, too. I've only eaten them raw, and did not remove the skins, as suggested, so that may make a difference. I'll probably start some from seed, since my plant is getting old, and to see if I can do it.

    I had a banana tree - never flowered or fruited, though. Lost it when I overwintered it in a greenhouse whose heater failed. It had beautiful mottled, green with a dark reddish splotchy pattern in the middle, leaves. I used the leaves as plates for a cheese platter, sometimes.

  3. Bluestone Perennials has this for sale on their web site. I have ordered many times from them and have always been pleased.

  4. I didn't know you could eat the leaves. Maybe I'll give it a try. But I was hoping for some locally grown bananas to munch on!

  5. I've never actually eaten the banana leaves, just used them as disposable plates, or for display. I understand you can use them as wraps for cooking, like corn husk tamales, but with Asian cuisine so I don't think there's anything toxic about them. Never got that ambitious.

    As much as I support local, in season, fresh eating and growing, I'll never give up bananas, Chilean grapes in winter, or clementines, let alone coffee and olive oil. There are limits! Cheers!